How close are you with your shadow self? You know, that parts of you that you feel ashamed of, or reject completely and are existing in secret or in your blind spot?
For me, I didn’t even know I had a shadow side. I was all light and love and positive vibes only, ignoring and hiding from any wrong doings, or pain I experienced in my past.
Well, it didn’t take long for my shadow to show up, right BEFORE I realized I was burnt out and desperate for a change. It decided to take over and run the show
I was just going through the motions, work hard, play hard, be the best mom, wife, boss, and friend I could be while chasing the pleasures of life and numbing out, neglecting my own needs. My inner wise one was begging for my love and affection. But I was stuck, stuck in habits that didn’t serve me, marijuana was running my life and I was completely addicted. Alcohol was always a substance I would turn to, in good times and bad. I was helping other people heal and live a better life, all while I was silently suffering on the inside.
I’m not going to share just yet how my shadow showed up and the crazy ride it took me on thru self sabotage and destruction, one day I’ll be ready to share those details, but for now, I want to let you know that when I was finally able to acknowledge, accept, and befriend my shadow, my life started to turn around and I was able to turn my wounds into wisdom.
If you are saying to yourself, how do I know if my shadow is showing up, Here are 3 ways you can identify your shadow behavior
1. You’re ashamed of it and feel guilty afterwards
2. You feel like you’re being “taken over” when you enact it
3. You often do it in secrecy
So the question is, where in your life do you see your shadow showing up?
When we embark on the journey of changing our habits, up-leveling our experience, growing our edges, making the big leap that we have desired for a long time, (adulting ourselves, re-parenting ourselves, asking ourselves to expand) – we will inevitably face resistance. And I have learned the work is easier to do with the safety of a guide, a mentor, a coach, a therapist, or a group to help you co-regulate your nervous system.
You see, our shadow, our armor, the part of our brain whose job it is to keep us safe — will emerge as the default feature that is hardwired into our survival programming anytime our organism is threatened with an unrecognizable set of circumstances. For me, I was acting out of trauma, out of survival, out of scarcity and lack mentality. This voice kept whispering in my head,
“You think you are going to become who? Who do you think you are ???”
It is there to keep us safe, but after we no longer need it, or realize it is keeping us small and what we really need to do is Integrate it, befriend it, acknowledge it and interface with it.
It can feel really stifling, as if we have taken 1000 steps backwards or that we are the childhood age from when this patterns formed … basically it’s a suck fest!
No one is exempt from a shadow, and we never get rid of them. We all have little rooms and pockets
of shadows in our inner homes.
And, I believe the most important thing to know … the more light we desire to shine in the world, the bigger obstacles our shadows will cast. However, at this moment, we should rejoice, because it means we are on the right track. It means we have knocked on a previously NOT OPEN FOR BUSINESS door of our own psyches and now the gate keeper is alerted to a possible breech and ready to throw up the shadow. And when we’re new on the path, unaware of this mechanism, have struggling self-esteem or when we flat out refuse to heed the call of our larger, truer Selves we can feel truly lost in the wilderness that is our own inner landscape.
“The Shadow” a term conceived by Carl Jung, refers to the hidden, unconscious aspects of our
psyches. It’s our blind spots – those parts of ourselves that we fail to see or know. John Welwood
describes our shadow as all of our undigested life experiences. We are all born whole, yet very early
on, those parts of ourselves that we are told are “bad” or “unacceptable,” slowly get squashed into the
cellars of our psyches. And because our psyches want to find equilibrium and for our bodies to move
towards health, our shadows will not settle for being looked away forever. In fact, if they stay hidden
for long enough, they’ll start to act out in ways that feel beyond your control. Examples: charging out
to buy a pack of smokes, sitting down with a box full of cookies, spacing out on Facebook, picking
fights, road rage, fill in the blank ….
Here is a 5 step process to show you how to face your shadow so you can stop playing small and create the life you desire
1. Identify your Intention:
What are you calling in to be transformed? List the area(s) in your life where you feel a certain level of tension / intensity / challenge / where you are playing small / where know you are relying on outdated, survival mode tactics. What aspect of yourself needs to be digested? What kind of impact do you want to provoke? What does the impact ROI look like? How big do you want to go? Tap into your Sankalpa, your hearts truest desire.
2. Know your Edges.
What are your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual edges? What do you know you need to let go of but can’t seem to find the courage? What emotions and mental states can yo not tolerate? Where are the boundaries of the terrain you allow yourself to explore? Where is no woman’s land? What experiences / trauma / Trauma from childhood or adulthood have created well marked NO TRESPASSING signs in your interior?
3. Face your Shadow and get to know your go-to shadow settings.
What are your shadows: How do you sabotage? How do you thwart even your own best efforts? How do you collapse in relationships, life, career, social? How do you respond to stress? Explore your relationship to these things. Do you tend to push yourself past your edge, often finding yourself in a crisis as a result? Or do you shy away, preferring not to rock the boat (withdrawal, Netflix binges)? Do you become the angry, irritable bitch that everyone needs to get of the way of? Do you get super sad and melancholy (cue Eeyore )? Or do you worry yourself into an insomnia induced tizzy? Do you burnout from overworking? Or deaden yourself from your lack of effort? When you are at an edge, how do you react? In a yoga pose, as an example of a physical edge: do you push past and injure yourself? Do you say “that’s not for me” and do something else? Do you have “next mat over envy” or beat yourself up ? How will you know your shadow issues are emerging? How will you bring the light of awareness to the shadows and be able to accept it as a part, but not the entirety of you?
4. Work with your Shadow.
Experiment to bring the light of your loving awareness to the shadows. How can you do the work of learning from the shadow so that you may re-integrate, re-invite, “re-parent” that part of yourself back into the whole? What part of you, your ego, your sword, your jewels, your flesh, your very identity, needs to be shed in order to bring the shadow into the light / digest the issue / evolve your identity, make a bigger impact? Sacrifices: What part of you needs to be sacrificed / die the proverbial death of the under world in order to find the gem hidden in the muck / what part of your story needs to be accepted so that you can compost it into and glean fertilizer / nourishment from it?
Cultivate a mood of compassion and gratitude towards yourself and your survival
- Commune with your edge from your courageous heart. Be brave when you feel a shadow
- Stay. Don’t Run. (don’t buy the pack of smokes, the weed, the beer, wine, or amazon must have)
- Tremble, and say YES! Yes, to the bigger you that wants you to transform in order to have a
bigger impact, a larger bank account, a love life that rocks your socks off, fill in the blank
- Look for the sacrifice. What aspect of you is the one who wants the smokes? What does she
believe about herself? What does she tell you is true about you? Is it still true or does it need
to be let go of?
- Flame the fire of your devotion. Connect to your higher power, right then and there.
- Trust and Surrender
- Allow grace to open to you.
- Identify your next keystone habit
- Create a super heroine and give her a name, a cape and a life.
5. Self Reflect.
What have you learned from this process? What are the skills you now need to learn in order to fulfill the next chapter of the story? How can you creatively and constructively use the freed up energy to enact your bigger dharma? What can you see now that you could not before? What flowers are now perennially growing in your topside world due to the work you just did in the underworld? What are the qualities of the inner gem you just unearthed ?
Facing and Befriending your shadow is an ongoing process
As my teacher and mentor says, “It’s time to eat the shit sandwich” and only then will you be able to move past the self sabotaging destructive ways you find your self in throughout the phases of your life. This is on-going work. And the process works, but you have to trust and open yourself up to radical self acceptance and compassion.
If you are craving support and need extra guidance around shadow work and trauma healing, please reach out. You are never alone. Check out ways we can work together or book a free support session with me.