10 Signs You Need Shadow Work

10 Signs You Need Shadow Work

Curious about the signs you need shadow work?

That’s not surprising! Our natural behavior is to avoid looking at our shadow at all costs.

But unfortunately that’s exactly why it’s so important to do this work.

What you resist, persists.

Meaning the very parts of you that you try so hard to run away from or ignore are often the things you need to work on the most.

They’re secretly responsible for your blocks in life, around money, healthy relationships, and much more.

But if you’re still curious about whether or not you need shadow work, keep reading! Here are ten of the signs and symptoms of an unhealed shadow.

10 Signs You Need Shadow Work

#1: You Have Big Emotional Reactions

It doesn’t take much for you to go from zero to sixty. You’re out there vibing and living life and then suddenly BOOM! You see red, you’re overreacting, you’re maybe even insulting or attacking back.

Maybe it’s the barista who messed up your order. Maybe it’s the car in front of you during the morning commute. Maybe it’s your partner who should know it really bothers you when they chew like that.

Whatever it is, you attack like a tiger back. And then comes the shame spiral.

#2: You Have Dysfunctional Relationships

Settling for less than you deserve in either love or friendship is a huge sign that you need some shadow work.

Like so many things, this symptom often stems from our childhood. If you have core childhood wounds like abandonment or rejection, then your Wounded Inner Child might feel like they have to over-perform and self-abandon just to keep people in their life.

When you begin your healing journey, you will start to see that you deserve more. And when you engage in new relationship dynamics, you will feel safe enough to bring up your wants or needs without worrying that you’ll scare away the other person.

#3: You’re A People Pleaser

Similarly, chronic people-pleasing is another sign that you’re in need of shadow work. This shows a fundamental need to be liked, stemming from our own insecurities. Our subconscious brain lives in fear of the question: what would happen if people didn’t like us or approve of us?

This is especially common for women, who are taught from a young age that they should always think of others first. In theory, that’s a nice thing to teach them. But in reality, it ends up toxic. Most end up learning how to self-abandon themselves and their own needs and desires in pursuit of “helping” others.

Maybe you don’t even know you’re a people-pleaser. Instead, you just feel exhausted all the time. Burnt out, worn out, stressed. That’s because people-pleasing is self-abandonment. There’s no way you can put everyone else first 100% of the time and still have energy left for you.

#4: You Have Toxic Positivity

Thinking positive is a good thing at times. It’s a scientifically proven way of creating a better life for ourselves! But, like with all things, there’s such thing as too much.

Think: avoiding the news, avoiding someone you’ve labelled as “toxic”, ignoring your friends who are having a hard time, or denying/minimizing other people’s emotions.

Shadow work is all about looking at the not-so-great parts of ourselves–and learning to love and accept what we find there. It’s about undoing the shame that work so hard to run away from. If you’re not able to do this even on a superficial level, then of course you’re not doing it with yourself.

#5: You Get Insanely Jealous

When we see someone else with something that we want, it’s only natural to feel a bit envious. However, your feelings aren’t simple envy. This is a full-on green-eyed jealous monster who’s downright angry at this other person.

While envy is wishing that we had something that someone else has, jealousy is the same thing–only not wanting that other person to have it. It’s hate, it’s petty, it’s wanting to ruin someone else’s joy because you think that will make you feel better.

However, such a strong emotional reaction really just shows that we are at war within ourselves. While our conscious mind is telling us we shouldn’t want that, our subconscious mind very much does. To make matters worse, it’s infuriated to see someone else enjoying the very thing we’ve been denying ourselves from. Why do they get to be happy when we don’t?

For example, if you can’t scroll through Instagram without going into a jealous rage over some influencer’s supposedly perfect life, then it’s a pretty clear sign that your shadow needs a little TLC.

#6: You Self-Sabotage

You get an A+ in creating goals and New Years Resolutions.

But the follow through? Not so much.

While you know exactly what you want in life (the money, success, healthy bod, relationship, etc.) your behaviors tell a different story.

For example, you keep telling yourself tomorrow is the day you’re going to start running. But every morning you wake up and hit the snooze button.

Or maybe you tell yourself it’s time to add to the 401K. But instead, you blow your bonus on an online shopping binge.

You keep telling yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “It’s only just this once” or “I’ll get around to it.” But inside you’re experiencing cognitive dissonance from always acting very much not in alignment with the person you really want to be.

#7: You’ve Stopped Setting Goals At All

This pattern is self-sabotage x 100. It happens when you step into victim mode for too long and give away all of your power. You never think about what you want your life to look like because you’ve already decided it will never happen.

After all, you’ve broken trust with yourself. You know you don’t actually do the things you want to do, so instead of trying you’ve given up.

In the end, that might leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, or even depressed.

#8: You Judge Everyone & Everything

Constantly triggered by others? Maybe you’re gossiping or always telling everyone what they should or shouldn’t do.

This is yet another sign of deep shadow wounds. There’s no doubt you judge yourself harshly. So of course you judge everyone else around you the same way.

The problem is that no one ever meets up to your lofty expectations–including yourself.

Criticism and judgment really come from a place of insecurity. We think we can only be loved if we’re a certain way–or perfect. But we end up judging everyone else that way too.

However, relationships are mirrors. The things that we judge the most are just parts of ourselves that we have not learned how to embrace. That’s why doing shadow work is essential for our own mental well-being–and as a bonus, improves our other relationships too.

#9: You Feel Like You’re Stuck

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have a problem you can’t overcome. However, helplessness is never factually true. That means there’s something within us that needs to shift so we can make progress again.

The narratives of “I don’t know what to do” or “I can’t do X are convenient excuses that keep us in our Victim Mindset. We cling to these stories because it’s much easier than admitting the truth: we kind of like our problems.

Yes, really! A shadow part of you might love being broke, the constant drama of your love life, or constantly feeling undervalued at work.

This only sounds crazy at first because we’re so good at ignoring our shadow. It’s only once you can see how you play a part in creating those problems, that you can finally heal and release them.

#10: Buffering/Addictions

People in need of emotional healing often feel the need to escape from reality or their emotional state. Instead of going inwards to face our demons, we find ways to distract ourselves.

This is what we call “buffering”: basically putting yourself in a holding pattern of avoidance.

You might be thinking “Oh this isn’t me at all. I’m not an addict.” But basically all of us engage in one form of buffering behavior or another.

Here are some examples of things that can be buffering behaviors:

  • Social media
  • TV/Netflix
  • Video games
  • Shopping
  • Gossip/drama
  • Gambling
  • Sex/porn
  • Drinking
  • Drugs

That’s not to say everyone with a Netflix membership is doing this! But any behavior that’s normal and healthy in a small dose can easily become a compulsion or addiction. If you’re making excuses for your behaviors or missing out on other life experiences because of it, then it might be time to look into this more closely.

But please don’t hold any shame about it! Society at large has taught us that addiction is a matter of willpower. However, thanks to modern addictions researchers such as Gabor Mate, we now know that the opposite of addiction is connection. When we create space to love our shadow and let our shadow be seen and embraced by others, we will no longer have the compulsion to escape from it.

The Benefits of Shadow Work

Maybe some (or a several) of those symptoms ring true for you and now you’re wondering what’s next?

Just in case the idea of actually facing your shadows and healing them still sounds a bit scary, here are some of the benefits of shadow work:

  • More self-acceptance
  • Improved communications
  • Better relationships (friends & romantic)
  • Fewer emotional rollercoasters or outbursts
  • Improved intuition
  • Stronger sense of control over your life
  • Freedom from uncertainty, fear, and shame
  • Improved confidence & decision making

So what did you think? Did you recognize any of these signs you need shadow work within yourself? Which one resonated the most?

If you’re ready to take the next step on your shadow work journey, check out this post about how to integrate your shadow or shadow work for beginners. Or if you want a more in depth training, come join us inside heal’d! My shadow work workshop is included with your membership.

Remember, you’ve already been through the worst of it. The path to healing will always leave you feeling happier and healthier in the end.

Jenn Stevens The Aligned Life

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10 Signs You Need Shadow Work


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