During the spiritual and healing journey that I’ve gone on, the more I’ve come to understand the power that lies in our own darkness.
Of course, I believe in the power of love and light. But it just doesn’t make sense to ignore the “darker” parts of us.
That’s where shadow work comes in.
This is powerful because right now, most of us are running away from something inside of us.
That never really works out because of course, wherever you go there you are!
Ignoring or minimizing things doesn’t actually heal them. It actually compounds those problems over time.
The more deeply we hide certain aspects of ourselves, the more power they have because we cease to see our own responsibility in the equation.
That can manifest as repeating patterns, feeling stuck, or just feeling like you don’t really understand your own motivations and reactions.
Sure, shadow work can be uncomfortable at times. But it’s also the more fiercely rewarding work that you could do for yourself.
Today, I want to help you get started on your own shadow work journey! Here are my five best tips for beginners.
Shadow Work For Beginners: 5 Tips
Shadow Work For Beginners Tip #1:
Get Honest With Yourself
We have to admit what we’d rather ignore or what brings us shame.
It’s so easy to bat away your thoughts and beliefs, telling yourself “I don’t really believe that”
But if something is coming up for you over and over again, then yes–part of you does believe it.
True self-honesty is tough! We’re used to excuses and stories and playing pretend with ourselves.
So while it might feel rocky to acknowledge the depths of your psyche, just know that a life with more calm, happiness, and confidence is waiting for you on the other side.
Shadow Work For Beginners Tip #2:
Realize Shame Is Self-Inflicted
We have all experienced shame. Yet avoiding shame is one of our primary motivations in life!
That means we might avoid new experiences, necessary conversations and do all kinds of mental backflips just to keep ourselves away from potential shame triggers.
However, we were not born experiencing shame. We only learn to experience it from being around other people. That really just means we get socialized to place a lot of stock in the way other people view us (which is always a losing battle).
If you lived in a void without other people around you, you would never experience shame. So it’s important to realize that you don’t have to in this reality either! It’s a thought choice.
So if you couldn’t experience shame: what feelings come up? What could you safely process and release? What conversations or actions would you be taking?
Living a life burdened with shame is the furthest thing from the joyous loving life that we all crave. But you are the only one with the power to give yourself this gift!
Shadow Work For Beginners Tip #3:
Watch Your Triggers
No one likes getting triggered! But those hot-button moments (when you go from zero to sixty in the flash of an eye) can tell you so much about your shadow.
Whenever we have an intense overreaction to something that we don’t understand, we’re almost definitely dealing with some unresolved small-t trauma and shadow issues.
But that’s not anything to feel shame about! Everyone does this unless they do the work to heal this. So noticing this pattern is the first step of the process.
Sometimes we bury our memories deeply. But even without our knowledge, we’re still carrying them with us. The shunned, rejected or neglected parts of us are lingering on in our shadow, causing us to act in ways that aren’t in our true alignment.
So the next time you’re triggered, don’t get upset with yourself! Get curious and ask:
What does this situation remind you of? When was the first time you felt this way?What do you need right now in order to feel better?
Our emotions are not logical and they do not always come from our immediate circumstances! But we still have the power to shift and heal them, no matter what’s happening or where they originally came from.
Shadow Work For Beginners Tip #4:
Notice Your Mirrors/h3>
The other close humans in our lives are always mirroring back the best and worst parts of ourselves, shadow included.
That means: when someone you love is doing something that’s driving you crazy, there’s probably something about what they’re doing that reminds you of the parts of yourself that you’d rather not see.
Think about it:
The girl at work who talks too much about her boyfriend. Mirror.
Your boyfriend who won’t start looking for a new job even though he hates where he is. Mirror.
Your friend who never follows through on her big future life goals! Mirror!
Simply understanding this phenomenon is so powerful!
For one thing, it softens our hearts and allows us to just show up and accept our friends or family for who they are (instead of trying to change them).
Secondly, it gives us a direct spotlight on the habits and motivations that we don’t want to admit to in ourselves. It’s like the Universe is drawing a big circle and saying “Work on this!”
Again, with shadow work, knowledge is power. If you remain blind to these patterns, they will continue to rule over you. But gaining just a little understanding gives us the pathway to begin our healing journey.
So don’t project that anger and frustration outward! Get curious about what it’s really here to teach you.
Shadow Work For Beginners Tip #5:
Accept Yourself As Is
When our shadow goes unacknowledged and unhealed, it has the most power over us. We can pretend all we want that these parts of us aren’t there but that doesn’t actually make them go away.
It’s only true healing and integration that can do that.
One of the best ways to do this is to think about your own Shadow. Knowing that this part of you contains your rejected selves, what do you think is hiding here?
That might mean your clumsy thirteen-year-old self or your angry eight-year-old self. It might even just mean the parts of you that are loud, bossy, or self-absorbed (or whatever other “negative” attributes you were taught to feel shame about).
These parts of you might trigger shame or guilt but they are nonetheless, still important aspects of you. How can you extend those selves some love? How can you fully accept them into your heart (instead of making them wrong or ugly)?
No matter what you might find here, remember no human is perfect! And we are all 100% deserving of love and acceptance anyway.
One of the bravest acts you can do for yourself is to accept yourself as-is. But that’s truly the path to inner freedom and happiness.
So tell me: which shadow work tip resonated the most? And which one are you starting with first?
Shadow work is truly one of the most rewarding personal growth / spiritual practices I have ever done. It has created more calm and confidence in my world than I ever thought was possible.
Happy healing my friends!