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Shadow work – What it is and what it isn’t.

Recently more and more people are throwing the term ‘shadow’ out a lot and it triggers the righteous in me. Yes, I get triggered when people use terms that are sexy and trendy but not even close to the essence of it. 😔

I learnt about shadow work when I was studying psychotherapy. After 4 years of experimenting, exploring and learning using myself and others, I then officially declare this part of work in 2018. even so.. up to today, i would say i do not know everything. and i won’t, for sure.

But one of my greatest fears is that “shadow work” becomes like “mindfulness”.. over used, trendy, sexy.. but little substance in it by the people who are “doing it” (and not embodying it).

So I want to do my (little, or not so little) part to share as much as I can, what I know and my experience with it to upkeep the quality and value of this work.

I will try to keep it as short as possible so it’s not overwhelming. 🤭

According to Carl Jung, shadows are the “hidden parts of our being”.. “What the conscious ego does not identify in itself”.. “What we reject”..

Shadow ≠ things that hold us back.

It can be, but not necessary. Many people are successful exactly because of their shadows! so stop calling everything that’s holding people back as “shadows”.

Shadows ≠ bad things.

Joy, ease, happiness, confidence, loving.. can all be shadows. so stop associating everything ‘negative’ as shadows.

7 years of learning and exploring this work on and with myself and others.. from my experience, most people do not know their shadows.. which is really on point with what it actually is as mentioned above – hidden and/or rejected.

If you ask someone and they can immediately tell you their shadows, they either have been working on that shadow for a while or are a seasoned shadow work practitioner. (and of course, on top of those, they must also trust you.)

The word here is practitioner, not just a facilitator, coach, teacher, trainer, etc. a practitioner who walks the talk and honors their own practice of the work.

a highly aware, seasoned or experienced inner/self work practitioner is not the same as a seasoned shadow work practitioner. though an experienced self/inner work practitioner has a higher chance to see through bullshit based on their experiences.

Being experienced in self and inner work helps us to easily access the lens to look at what’s happening.. the patterns, the actions, the behaviors, and possibly where it comes from or what is driving it.. eg. trauma, past experiences, beliefs, values etc.

Majority of the people confuse those saboteurs/patterns or even the core of what’s driving those as shadows.. Sometimes, it is. Sometimes, it isn’t the same. They may be the results of having a particular shadow, but not the shadow itself.

eg. if someone believes and acts out as if they are not loveable. their shadow may not be about being not lovable. their shadow can be that they think the whole world is supposed to love them. they are very loveable, should be given priority, should be loved. Yet that exact part that is being rejected shows up and creates patterns and behaviours to show they are not loveable, because they don’t want people to know they think so highly of themselves that everyone should love them.

and having shadows are also not a bad thing all the time. eg. if you are a high profile celebrity. having certain shadows keeps your career on point. help you be in limelight or positive light. it may not serve forever. but it will serve for as long as needed.

Shadows, just as everything else that exists.. Has it’s time and purpose. And certain periods of our lives, they actually do serve us to move forward.. until it doesn’t. until it’s time to learn a certain soul lesson.

You see, shadow work is not the most straightforward sometimes.

when a person says he/she wants to do shadow work, it may take a few twists and turns to dance around the consciousness, subconsciousness and unconsciousness before the real actual work begins. Although an experienced shadow work practitioner may see it easier than others, what is deeper, but I feel it is never 100% accurate because of the complexity of each individual.. especially when it’s something that the consciousness wants to hide and reject.. and each of our mind is so freaking powerful.

Many people eventually will reach shadow work themselves when their inner work reaches a certain depth, when they need to level up a soul lesson

Ironically, sometimes that desire to do shadow work is exactly a shadow itself where the ego wants to look and be a certain way.

It is an important piece of work. But not everyone is ready, not everyone need to do it at a given time.

Although more people are ready to step into this playing field, some of their time is still not here yet and might take a while more. 🖤

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