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What Is Shadow Work And Why Does It Matter?

why working through our most troubled parts of ourselves leads to the best parts of ourselves.

Shadow work
Credit: peterschreiber.media/ ShutterStock

Shadow work focuses on areas such as emotions and feelings, which we often neglect because they were neglected when we were children. Because they are uncomfortable, Shadow work is important because it gives space to your behaviors which allows you to recognize then who you truly are and what you need to do to better yourself.

Every young child knows how to naturally express love, anger, selfishness, and all the other emotions, but as children grow, their environments become the reason why their initial natural traits are disturbed.

If you grew up in an environment where you weren’t allowed to express anger, then our biological instincts are discarded, and it tells us as children that showing these types of emotions is wrong. As we grow up and become adults, we carry these traits with us, which is why it is hard to do shadow work, as the once norm has now become something that we need to change.

The unconscious and everything we repress becomes our ‘dark side.’ This is where shadow work comes in and helps us to acknowledge our unaccepted and disowned parts of ourselves in order to become healthy, functioning adults.

Credit: agsandrew/ Shutterstock

Your ego is not who you are

Any part of ourselves that we dismiss for long enough will eventually turn against us. It will turn into projection which will alter relationships around us, such as friendships and romantic relationships. We see the same traits in others that we are so desperately trying to hide, such as hiding the fact that we are not confident. If you see someone else who is confident and you are bitter about it, it’s a projection of your own insecurity.

Our ego is our biggest defense, and we use it daily without realizing it. Our egos protect us when they are bruised but what we don’t realize is that our ego is not part of who we really are. Our egos want us to be perceived as ‘good’, so when our real feelings about ourselves clash with our ego, we try even harder to convince ourselves and others we are good. And we do this by people pleasing and trying to adapt to every situation in order to fit in.

Our goal of being seen as ‘good’ is what disconnects us from doing shadow work. We are creating a psychological boundary within ourselves that is disabling us from being honest with ourselves and accepting those parts we need to work on. Instead of making peace with the traits that need work on, we tell ourselves we don’t need to work on anything, which keeps the toxic cycle going.

The shadow grows darker every time we repress, hide or dismiss it. The only way forward is to face it, challenge it and grow for the better.

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