What is shadow work?
Shadow work is a term that I have heard thrown around a lot in the spiritual community but I’m not sure we actually get what it means. And to be completely honest, I’m not sure I completely get it either. Perhaps there are lots of different ways to embody and do shadow work. Maybe shadow work has multiple definitions. Likely, we are all figuring it out as we go. Maybe as I heal and shift, my understanding will change. But I am going to share with you what I have learned up to this point in my journey around this particular component of shadow work.
So, what is a shadow? A shadow is a part of you that has not been touched by the light. As we heal and grow on our spiritual journey’s we go back and allow ourselves to feel and heal certain wounds that have been festering in our psyche. They are shadows because we don’t really know those parts exist until something bumps up against them (by way of a trigger). Our psyche is mostly driven by our subconscious awareness like a giant iceberg. We don’t see it’s there until it totally knocks us off our feet. Usually triggers occur in an interaction with other people. One of the main reasons we can be hidden in our shadows for many, many moons is because our society is heavily buried in the victim/perpetrator dynamic. And, 150% of the time, we are deeming ourselves as the victim and the other dude is the bad guy. We convince ourselves, If he would only act this way, if she would only talk this way to me, if my dog would stop barking at the neighbors, if my boss would stop being such a dick. And, don’t get me wrong, your boss may very well be a dick, but what do you have control over?????? YOU! And, until you heal the wound, you will just attract someone else in a different meat suit with the same underlying vibration. Your soul wants to heal and have peace. It will do so at any cost.
The way you have control over you and your healing, is that you look at the trigger, find the wound, feel the feelings, and reframe the pattern, belief or thought that is causing you the pain. Let’s look at this step by step in an example.
1) Trigger - For many years, I was attracted to men who weren’t emotionally available. The reason I was attracted to them and kept pulling them into my reality is 1) my soul wanted to heal that dynamic and 2) I was also not emotionally available. When I had this realization, it was one of the first shockers of my spiritual healing. It was super hard for me to look at. Me, not emotionally available??? What?! But yes. I covered this up in many ways, even from myself but deep down, this basic wound was attracting men who were on the same emotional wavelength that I was.
If I had stayed in the victim/perpetrator story, I would have continued to blame every man I was ever in relation with. As I sent out that bat signal, I brought them into my reality in droves. When I started to get tired of feeling some kinda way about relationships, I really started to look at my own dynamics. Looking at my own patterns, beliefs and wounding, allowed me to see what was really being triggered in these dynamics.
2) Wound – My wound in a broad sense was related to my dad. My dad was physically around most of my life, but he was never there emotionally for me. As an empath, this wounding was deep as shit. In childhood I could have really benefited from a man (or masculine energy) who was able to hold space for me as I felt my emotions. Through my original male relationship, I was conditioned to believe a lot of things about masculine energy, relationships, and feelings. But the beauty is my soul choose this lesson, so it also led me down the path to heal it.
3) Feel – Through various methods, modalities and layers, I was allowed to feel the emotions that had been stuffed down for years around this dynamic. Since my dad modeled an emotional absence, I also learned this and modeled it, not only in my relationships with others, but also in my relationship with myself. There were lots of layers to this wound. Afterall, I had 42 years to perfect it. I began to see where I avoided my emotions like the plague. I didn’t allow others to experience their emotions. I tried to manage, control and direct emotions when they made me feel some kinda way, which was most of the time. But ultimately, I had to stop and FEEL. Ugh, this was not my favorite part y’all. But over time I actually kinda grew to accept and appreciate those pesky little fellas.
4) Reframe – As I stopped blaming my dad, and accepted the perfection of the situation, I was grateful I had my childhood. Because of the household I chose to experience, I learned to support myself emotionally, to not rely on men for my emotional well-being. I grew strength and understanding around the dynamic and have helped my clients to tap into their feelings. Over time, I have learned that my depth of feeling is a gift and not some giant curse that I have been burdened with. I thanked my dad’s soul for providing this lesson to me (as my soul requested). I also did a shit ton of forgiveness towards my dad, those men, me and the Big Guy. Because in my belief system, he represents the biggest masculine energy of all. Additionally, I softened my own internal masculine energy. I began to show up for myself in new and exciting ways. As I did this internally, it began to seep into my external dynamics as well.
5) Love and acceptance – One of the key ingredients to shadow work, is to love the SHIT out of yourself. The other problemo with our shadows, is that they are in deep shame and guilt for even existing. We tell ourselves that if anyone knew about this deep, dark part of me, they would find me unlovable. When you have these parts and pieces of yourself that come up, this quickest way to freedom is to love and accept them. Nothing will change until you stop fighting against them. Your shadow is trying to teach you something. But i