The shadow, is either an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself; or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.
Shadow work is an introspective psychological practice can lead to a more fulfilling life. When working with the shadow, one may have moments of awakening that can lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom.
The shadow is the “dark side” of our personality because it consists chiefly of primitive, (named as negative) human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, lust, desire, and the striving for power.
What is Shadow?
Shadow is the dark side or negative qualities of our life. Talking about shadows can be anything like selfishness, desire to get more, rage, envy, lust & greed. We are always in denial mode and want to shun these dark sides within us. We simply separate the negative sides from our positive sides by thinking that these are unacceptable, unworthy, evil, and inferior.
Shadows always highlight the parts of our personality which we have abandoned and no longer accept them as our own. Though overlooked through these negative sides it does not go anywhere rather it remains carpeted within us. We face problems when we don’t want to see them actually.
How does the shadow come to life? (How is the Shadow born?)
Every human being has two traits one is positive and the other is negative. But as you start to grow up somehow these positive traits such as love, kindness, compassion becomes accepted and on the other side, the negative ones such as greed, rage are labeled as unacceptable. But as a child when you express negative traits such as anger, society marks you as unruly even if parents find it difficult.
Even in school, a child who is outspoken is marked as talkative. Therefore to adjust to these unwritten positive rules of the society children began to express the positive sides and somehow the negative ones get suppressed. As a result of all these negative things we pile up and stack them into an invisible bag and carry them all throughout our lives. And this is how the shadow is born.
Why should you not ignore the shadow?
It is our nature to disown our own negative traits. Now the point is as you fail to accept that the more it stands against you. Eventually, it starts to ruin your life. Note that the personal shadows actually present those parts that we disowned. This is the reason why the shadows start to work on their own. That means it starts to operate on an autopilot mode. For example, when you are talking in a group you comment on something which you didn’t mean to or simply make faces that were unintentional. Therefore these negative traits start to manifest without your consent.
What happens if the shadow is repressed?
As discussed, shadows represent your dark side. So there are many occasions when you deny a dark side of yours and that particular negative aspect you tend to see in others. And this particular trait is called projection. It means we tend to project a specific negative quality on others that you suppress within you. For example, if you feel distracted when you see someone is short-tempered. It means that you bear this negative quality of getting short-tempered. But somehow in the process of showing your positive self, you have concealed it inside somewhere. Note that you won’t project this consciously rather you do it unknowingly. Therefore by doing so you create a dividing line between the two attributes good and bad. Moreover, it keeps you diverted from reality.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is a psychological process where one needs to see one's inner thoughts and feelings. And that in a way will help them lead a fulfilling life. When you adopt this tendency to see the positive sides of your life you feel quite easy and comfortable. But that is not life actually because at the same time you need to consider the shadow self which is like laziness, accusation, ugly, dependency, etc. You have to accept both the good, bad, pretty, and ugly. Overall you have to embrace all the grey attributes of life. But accepting all the shades of life will let you live all the moments of life and that will pave the way for creativity, mental freedom, and authenticity. But disowning the aspects will keep you disordered and fractured. And you won’t be able to live life fulfilling.
Shadow Work in Life Coaching
Shadow's work in life coaching works on improving the emotional and spiritual well-being, attitude and behavior. Whenever you have any dilemma, the professional trainers do incorporate a series of steps. And that starts with addressing the goal of your life. And finally, when it ends you have already adopted the rule of incorporating that into your life.
Understanding Main pattern
The shadow work helps to identify the main behavioral and emotional issues that are hidden. Throughout the process, you come to identify the main problems automatically it helps to resolve the other underlying problems as well.
Analyzing the risk
Throughout your life, you come across various types of people and if you observe the risk minutely you will be able to make the necessary changes. Now, this so happens because you can control risk and you take it on your terms. Therefore you are aware of the limits you want to extend yourself. Therefore most of the time it is seen that you win it successfully.
A guilt free learning ambiance
Once you start taking up the shadow work Coaching, you would see that it offers you an ambience where you don’t need to feel ashamed or blame yourself. It’s up to you how you want to represent yourself and what you want to choose in your life. The shadow work coaches don’t judge you. And even they say the moment you stop to judge yourself is the time when you can change many things in life.
Shadow Work Process
Analyze your emotional reactions
As you know that shadow is the negative trait of any human being that remains hidden. Any human denial of their own shadows has this tendency of looking for those negative traits in others. But the most fruitful way to do so is to find out how you emotionally react to others' behavior.
Suppose a person you knew is very short tempered , and aggressive, so his or her behavior won’t irritate you unless you possess the same negative qualities. Therefore every time you observe such thing make sure to embrace those negative qualities. Also find out which is the emotion and what irritates you. And it won’t bother you and you can rectify on spot only.
Question the good aspects
You all have this quality of being a good girl and boy from childhood. People call you good and that’s the way you start to accept yourself. But somewhere the bad part gets concealed beneath. Suppose you always say that you are an honest person but somehow the dishonest part in you gets layered. And the very moment you start denying it tends to question the good trait that is the honest part. But once you accept that it won’t create any tussle.
Exchange dialogue with inner self
To address the inner self in the right way, you can engage in an active conversation with the shadow self. Those unidentified personalities will come into the forefront and denying those will. instantly rule over your behavior. There are times when you utter words which were unintentional. Later you might think that it was a mere slip of the tongue. But deeply if you think so, that is not the case, once you start communicating with the shadows you have a chance to correct that at once.
Know about the 3 2 1 shadow process.
You start step 1 with your coach/mentor and discover what are the things that annoy him or her. Note that emotions you bear regarding the person don't need to be negative it can be positive as well.
In the second step, you simply jot down the good qualities of the person or the negative traits in regards to the person that disappoints you. Make sure that you write it down one by one. But write exactly what you feel about no need to ameliorate your words and write something ear soothing.
The next step is to communicate with your coach/mentor, simply ask out some of the questions directly like why are you behaving so weird? Are you angry with someone/something? Now you imagine the response from the character and once you do just pen it down in the journal.
Now you become the person and give your response to those which you have asked earlier. This will give a clear perception regarding the shadows in you that you were denying so far.
Finally, you need to accept those negative qualities. You don’t require to be conceptually correct or simply make it factual. Just accept it and incorporate the quality as a part of yours.
Benefits of Shadow Work Therapy?
Owning the good sides in you is a privilege and disowning the negative sides gives you more chances to improve and develop. Therefore let’s see what are the advantages that you can experience from shadow work therapy
Enhance the relationship
As you start to embrace the self shadow you start to feel that life gets easier and smooth. But disowning that won’t let you accept the dark sides of others. And to be an accomplished human being you need to accept the dark sides as well. This will let you communicate with others easily. Over time, you will see that your relationship with family and friends will improve as well.
Have precise perception & evolve to a higher and deeper level
Accepting yourself as you give clarity regarding yourself. That means as you start accepting the darker parts you start to explore your shadow self and this let you discover how realistic and authentic you are. This self awareness helps you analyze every situation in a balanced way. Indeed the shadow work therapy lets you comprehend every situation accurately and with compassion.
To mature psychologically you need to face the darker side that is the shadow part. And this graceful acceptance will make you an accomplished person. Once you get clear about this you can have accepted the two sides with the same brain easily.
Achieve a great level of creativity
Certainly accepting the dark and positive sides carves out the creative side of yours. And that helps to make you more creative.
Improved mental and physical health
People who get this tendency of suppressing the dark parts which they don’t want to face creates a burden for them. It is because they have to carry those all through their lives. In this way, they invest their energy in the wrong direction. But once you accept the dark sides and place them equally besides the positive sides you become capable of balancing your life. Thus it increases the internal strength and makes you become emotionally and mentally strong.