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Shadow work - what is it?

Yep, we're going there. One of the biggest buzzwords in the healing world and on the internet right now - "shadow work." I want to break it down for you in a simple (and vulnerable) way so that you can understand what it is and how it works.

What the heck is "shadow work?"

Shadow work is like digging into the darker corners of your mind and emotions. It's about facing those parts of yourself that you've shoved aside because they don't fit your idea of who you "should b

e." The parts of you that you stuff down or keep hidden because you consider them or think others will consider them "negative" or "unacceptable," or that you feel embarrassment or shame around.

It's like shining a light on those hidden thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and saying, "Hey, I see you." By embracing these shadowy aspects, you can understand yourself better and grow into a more complete and authentic version of yourself. It's like doing some serious soul-searching but with a flashlight and a willingness to accept all parts of who you are - even in your seemingly "darkest" corners.

I believe that our purpose lies between the acceptance and integration of: 1. what lights us up, what we're most passionate about and

2. the healing we do through accepting our shadows and areas of most resistance.

So how do you go about looking into your shadows to do some shadow work? I want to give you a little personal story in the hope that it inspires you.

1 of my shadows: finding the flaw.

When I found the courage to shine a little flashlight onto some of my shadows, one of the ones that I found was a big limitation for me was finding the flaw.

An example, "How was your day?" I'd respond with, "Really great except for this one thing that wasn't."

Another example would be accomplishing something but then saying, "Well it isn't perfect," or, "It could be better but it'll do." The last example would be if someone did something for me, acknowledging it and saying "thank you," followed by what was missed or how it could have been done differently.

Finding the flaw was my way of both playing small and belittling at the same time. Where could this have stemmed from? Perfectionism - that could have been picked up from childhood - I was the oldest child and I strived to always have perfect grades, do better, and be better. Because I was generally a straight-A student, if I got a B, my family would respond with things like, "What happened, a B?" Therefore, focusing on the flaw rather than the accomplishment. As children, things like this become "conditioned behaviour."

Generally, before we shine a light on the shadow, it may show up in our projections of others. An example of this could be being triggered or bothered anytime one of my parents would find a flaw in a situation, ignoring the positive impact. Our triggers and the things that often bother us the most in others (especially if they're recurring,) are a part of our shadow selves.

Once we can acknowledge the shadow, find where it stemmed from (this isn't always necessary,) find compassion for how it began, (remembering that everyone, including our parents, was doing the best they could, the best they knew how at the time,) we're able to see how we can accept it as it is, or actively begin to change it if it doesn't serve us.

For me, this shadow was a limitation because it was stealing joy and gratitude from my life. It took away the capacity for me to fully feel gratitude for the greatness, the positivity, or the gesture of each situation. Instead, bringing my energy down into lack, disappointment and perfectionism.

Becoming aware of this allowed me to witness it as it came up in my life, acknowledge, and forgive myself for it, and slowly begin to change my focus to the positives, regardless of the seeming "flaw."

This is just one small example of some fairly simple shadow work, but I hope it invites you to shine a little light on your own shadows.

Sometimes what we find, though it may be scary or hurt our ego, can be really expansive and have a wildly positive impact on our life.

Journal questions to ponder if you're considering diving in:

  1. What are some recurring patterns or behaviours in my life that I feel ashamed or guilty about?

  • Reflect on instances where you've felt discomfort or regret. Explore the underlying emotions and beliefs associated with these patterns.

  1. What aspects of myself do I tend to hide or suppress in front of others? Why do I feel the need to keep these parts of myself hidden?

  • Consider the traits, desires, or emotions you keep concealed. Reflect on the reasons behind this secrecy and what it reveals about your self-perception.

  1. When I think of a time when I felt triggered or intensely emotional, what were the circumstances, and what deeper feelings or beliefs were brought to the surface?

  • Recall an experience that stirred strong emotions within you. Delve into the underlying triggers and the unresolved issues they may uncover.

  1. What are some qualities or characteristics in others that I strongly dislike or judge? How might these qualities relate to aspects of myself that I deny or disown?

  • Explore your reactions to certain traits in others. Consider how these judgments might reflect aspects of yourself that you struggle to accept or acknowledge.

  1. If I were to fully embrace and integrate my shadow aspects, how might my life be different? What opportunities for growth and self-acceptance might arise?

  • Envision a scenario where you wholeheartedly accept all parts of yourself, including the shadowy aspects. Reflect on the potential positive outcomes and the liberation that comes from self-acceptance.

And of course, if you need support, please never hesitate to reach out or head over to my "Sessions" page for support in diving deeper.

So much love babe,

Becky xx

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