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Introduction to Shadow Work

Tips and Final thoughtss


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Giselle

3 years ago | 3 min read

Mindfulness, spirituality, and healing are all centered around the same thing. The process and journey of reflection, questioning, and radical acceptance of all the things we hate about ourselves, things we rejected, and the experiences that molded our personalities.

That’s where shadow work comes in. What is shadow work you may ask? First, “[t]he shadow, according to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, consists of those parts of ourselves we choose to repress or hide that we don’t like.” So shadow work is the practice of going to those darker parts of ourselves and confronting them.

The essential idea is commiting to the process of of healing, connecting to yourself, and being present.

How to Get Started

As with meditation or mindfulness, shadow work takes dedication and time. There are many different ways to get started with shadow work and many approaches to healing. There is no one way that I can provide for you, but I do have a small list of things to get you started.

Photo by Luke Carliff on Unsplash
Photo by Luke Carliff on Unsplash
  1. Journaling. This is probably the easiest and the most accessible. What I usually do is take a few minutes to reflect on my state of mind, my day, or just free write, then I look up prompts. These prompts can be as specific as you need them to be. Asking questions like “when was the first time you felt shame?”, “what about yourself do you not like”, “what do you believe are your strengths?” etc. These are all points you can use as tools to guide your self reflection.
  2. Therapy. Therapy is something everyone needs. It’s a space where you can talk out loud with someone who has specialized in what you need. They can help offer live guidance, coping skills, and support. Here is where you can delve into your mental and emotional health in a supported atmosphere.
  3. Meditating. Taking time to truly sit with yourself in any capacity helps create mental strength and curate an objective point of view. The more objective you can be when examining yourself, the more progress you can make. While shadow work is an emotional process, it’s important not to get stuck living in those emotions but rather to work on accepting them and letting them go.
  4. Tarot. Hear me out, I know that most of you might associate tarot with fortune telling and not self reflection, but that’s not the case. Tarot cards are used as points of reflection, of knowledge, and connection. After all, tarot is 70% intuition and 30% knowing the meaning of the cards. The way you read the spreads is what you chose to take away/apply to yourself. Thus it’s a way to tap into your subconscious mind and find out what you need/feel/etc.
  5. Self care. At the end of the day, shadow work is about understanding yourself and your needs. It’s about healing and growth. Therefore, you need to spend time alone with yourself working and time alone taking care of yourself. Self care is crucial to shadow work. I always need time where I can debrief on my reflection and do things that bring me joy. It’s important to take care of yourself and to listen to what you need.
  6. Don’t forget the joy. Shadow Work might seem like it’s only to help you heal from heavy hurt and the like, but it’s also about learning and celebrating that which makes you happy. Just like you’re delving into shame, guilt, and pain; you’re also learning what makes you calm, happy, and laugh. It’s about the radical acceptance of all parts of the shadow.

Tips and Final thoughts

Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash
Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash

It’s easy to get stuck on either just digging up the past or living in denial of past trauma, but it’s important to create a balance between you, your shadow, and healing. Shadow work encpasses all the things you have rejected, the good and bad.

By finding this balance, you’ll find that you feel better. I know I have. As someone who finally has access to regular therapy, has time to journal and reflect, I have been able to learn more about myself and what I need. It’s a slow process and it’s painful at times, but it’s worth it. Finding what works for you, what methods help you heal is important, and it takes trial and error.

Shadow work is a long journey that truly doesn’t ever end. However, incorporating it into your life allows you to feel better and truly understand yourself better.

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Giselle

I'm a recent grad of Brown University. I studied literary arts where I was able to perfect my writing, storytelling, and editing skills. I'm also an avid reader, tarot card reader, and rea drinker.


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