Why do shadow work? There are a variety of reasons to do shadow work.
But before we go into (1) why you should do shadow work and (2) signs you need shadow work, let’s go over some key ideas.
What is Shadow Self & Shadow Work?
Your shadow self, or shadow, is the side of yourself you have no awareness of. It holds all the qualities you disowned during your formative years.
Although you learned to repress these qualities and push them outside of your awareness, they still live underneath the surface.
They unconsciously guide your actions and are the unseen cause for many of the troubles in your life.
Shadow work is the intentional practice of becoming aware of your unconscious shadow and integrating these neglected qualities into your being—becoming whole.
This is a process of building self-awareness, self-acceptance, and universal Love.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”Carl Jung
Why You Should Do Shadow Work
- Your triggers lose power over you.
A trigger is a quality you see in another person that emotionally affects you more than it should. The exaggerated affect is what makes it a trigger.
The behaviors and qualities you find triggering are those you’ve disowned in yourself and have taken refuge in your shadow.
Keep in mind that triggers are very personal.
What you find triggering will appear much more exaggerated in your own eyes than everyone else’s.
For example, a genuinely confident person looks arrogant in the eyes of someone who has disowned their own self-confidence.
By rejecting this quality within yourself, not only do you lack an “inner point of reference,”—but you outright hate it.
This is why you blatantly antagonize and deny having it within yourself. Not realizing that you do have this quality within you as well.
Shadow work is bringing these denied qualities back into your awareness and integrating them into your personality.
When you integrate your shadow, whatever behavior you find triggering will have lost power over you.
What you initially thought was arrogance turned out to be confidence this entire time.
This is because you have reclaimed your “inner sense of reference,” and you learned to accept and love this part of yourself.
- You point blame inwards instead of outward.
When you learn how much influence your unconscious has over your feelings and instincts, you become more willing to see how your lack of self-awareness is the root of your problems.
By not honoring your shadow’s desires and interests, you are not accepting the entire spectrum of your being.
You are more than what you think you are. There is something inside you that’s guiding your life and actions more than you realize.
Shadow work is admitting and accepting this.
It’s acknowledging that the will of your unconscious is more powerful than your own.
And it’s by honoring and giving gratitude to the results of your unconscious that you can have your shadow lend its will unto your own.
Just accept that what you want in the future is what you desire, but you also like the way things are now and will enjoy your current life until it reaches the next stage.
Extend your self-gratitude to your unconscious.
(This is difficult when you don’t completely accept that something within you is more powerful than the ego.)
- You stop judging and self-sabotaging
There is nothing wrong with making a judgment call when it comes to observation.
However, making judgments that carry an expectation of how things should be is a problem.
Especially when these judgments are condescending in nature.
This is because all judgments you make will always come back to bite you in the butt.
For example, let’s say you judge somebody who walks in late into a meeting as somehow incompetent.
One day you will find yourself running late. And you will hesitate to open the door to join the meeting because you will think others will judge you as incompetent/intrusive/etc.
When you judge others, you are imposing an arbitrary standard onto yourself.
And because you are the only perspective you know, you will believe people think the same way you do.
Through shadow work or, more specifically, inner child work, you learn to accept yourself as you are.
By learning to accept yourself, you know to accept others—which causes you to stop judging others.
When you stop judging others, you will free yourself from the fear that others are judging you.
- You can spot healthy people for better relationships.
After doing enough shadow work, you become capable of seeing who has a distorted psyche.
You can get a sense of what shadow material a person carries based on how they talk about people.
Especially if they condemn entire groups of people as somehow “less human” or “more monstrous” than the group they identify with.
Not only is this type of thinking evidence that they lack emotional maturity, but it also indicates that they don’t know themselves. As a result, they love themselves much less than they think.
Note: A person who thinks they are universally better than another human is somebody who lacks self-awareness. They are very likely to be arrogant, proud of their ignorance.
- You tap into your hidden potentials.
Your shadow holds all of your undiscovered potentials that you learned to set aside.
This can be in the form of hidden talents that you didn’t discover because you never got the chance to pursue your interests.
Or it can be a quality that you need to become a more proficient person in life.
A typical example for passive people is the ability to tap into their aggression.
Being unable to tap into any semblance of aggression makes a person too meek and unassertive.
Note: A healthy ego can be assertive; to express their wants confidently with respect to others’ boundaries.
Honoring your shadow not only reveals your interests but also gives you access to the higher guidance that lies within your unconscious mind.
- You transform fear into love.
If you get really into shadow work, you will realize how much projection our mind does.
The mind convinces itself of what it is and what it’s not. From there, it projects anything it doesn’t identify with onto the world.
Your mind forms ideas of what this is and what that is.
For example, the mind has an ideal image of a chair within the psyche. So when you see anything that resembles a chair closely enough—it projects meaning and the surrounding expectations of what you think a chair does onto the chair-looking object.
You do the same things with “man” and “woman.” You project expectations onto what you believe is “other.”
The mind, your ego, believes that it’s in control of life. But it’s not.
It only believes it’s in control because it’s done such a good job convincing you that you are a singular piece instead of being a part of the Whole.
When you look at the universe as One entire being that you perceive from your own personal, limited perspective, you realize how much the mind has been projecting onto the world.
All the stories, including the ego, are made up.
Fear is the belief that this little section of the world is “other,”; that which you feel you have no control over. When in actuality, it’s a part of the Whole—just like you.
It’s by surrendering and letting the chips fall where they may that you integrate your fears into your living experience and accept it as part of the Whole.
4 Signs You Need Shadow Work
- You admire or get excessively upset at others.
People you admire or who you find triggering hold qualities that you have yet to accept within yourself.
Becoming your whole being and reaching your highest potentials means integrating these qualities that you’ve neglected and repressed.
You do this by examining the qualities that you loathe and admire closely. And admit that these qualities are within yourself too.
To integrate these qualities, you must slowly introduce them into your own life and personality.
You do this by finding preferably healthy outlets for these qualities to be expressed.
Over time, you will find that you get less triggered, and you will feel that those you admire are on the same level and no longer seek them.
- You repeatedly get involved in unhealthy relationships.
This is due to the unconscious beliefs about your existence that you picked up during your formative years.
And since you aren’t conscious of these underlying beliefs, you will repeatedly find yourself in positions that validate them.
When you become aware of these “shadow beliefs,” you will see how distorted your psyche is and be able to mend the inner wounds that produced them.
- You demonize or dehumanize other people.
Racism, sexism, scapegoating, and all things related are a product of shadow.
When people hold certain beliefs about the world, they have a tendency to fall into ideology.
Meaning that they believe their view of the world is the whole truth.
But that’s impossible since all ideologies hold some of the truth, but never all of the truth.
This is because you can’t fit all of reality into any model or framework.
People who claim to have the whole truth will scoff at any other views other than their own. This is arrogance—and they are proud of their ignorance.
When you have opposing viewpoints, both sides will naturally project their shadow onto the other.
They start believing they can read others’ minds. Which is absolute insanity.
You’ll also notice that what one side claims about the other tend to be true of themselves.
A great example of this is “the false narrative.”
An “enemy” will not simply take something you do for what it is. Instead, they will take things out of context and project more onto what’s actually happened because they’ve unconsciously selected you to hold their shadow.
If you do ABC, the triggered opposition will project DEFGHIJK onto you.
All of these projections are made-up stories that come from their own psyche.
These stories are much more revealing of themselves and their own disowned qualities.
Especially if they are certain of their position while assuming a hostile and condescending attitude towards you.
- You feel rejected by fate and let down by God.
Life doesn’t go your way when you don’t know yourself.
My advice, and it’s going to be very unpopular, is this—
Get angry at God. Damn God.
You don’t even have to believe in Him.
But by damning God, you indirectly strengthen your belief that there is a power higher than yourself.
By being angry at God, you admit that you don’t have the control you thought you had.
And it’s this false idea that you had this much control over everything that is why you’d get resentful towards the world in the first place.
A “rejection of fate,” or dark night of the soul, happens when you are pulled too far away from what you truly are.
If you are in a dark place, then lay it all on the table. Shake your fist in the sky and admit all of your entitlements and selfishness and arrogance.
Because by the end of all this—you will have developed a recognition of a higher power.
You will become closer to God. Or, in other words—what you truly are.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This resource gets updated at no additional cost.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This series goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for anyone dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Self-Love Subliminal for self-hypnotism that will help you change your behavior and gain self-love, self-awareness, better relationships, greater health, and improve your creativity.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.
Mindful & Mending is a small website that’s about self-hypnosis, affirmations, auto-suggestion, and more techniques & tools to help you shift your unconscious mind. Check it out here.