Let’s just get into it: shadow work is scary. It’s daunting. It’s a process.
What is shadow work, you ask? It is diving into the deepest, darkest parts of our souls. Our shadow can be as simple as dark humor, and as complex as our inner traumas, deeply rooted in our core, that we have no idea even exist. The latter is what mine has turned out to be. I recently embarked on my shadow work journey and let me tell you – it’s a ride. I didn’t even think I had trauma. I didn’t experience any overly traumatic events as a child. I am very fortunate in that I had a great upbringing and most of my family is still alive today. I never felt like I wasn’t cared for. I know not everyone is as fortunate, and if this applies to you, my heart is sincerely with you. But that does not mean that I don’t know pain and suffering. I have had many dark moments, always difficult to share, if I shared them at all.
I have always struggled with expressing myself. Expressing who I truly am, because often times even in my late twenties I still struggle with my true identity as a person. I have struggled with speaking my mind and my truth out of fear of what others may think, how they might judge me, or if I might offend someone. My trauma showed up as little, insignificant events throughout my childhood all the way up to the past couple of years that shifted relationships of all kinds, changed the way I saw myself and others, and the way I lived my life. No thing or person should have such a hold over anyone.
Shadow work helps to shed any limiting beliefs you have about yourself. It takes work, which is why I say it is a process. The night I started on my shadow work, I didn’t feel like much would come from it. One of my friends guided me on how to start: she told me to take a notebook and start word dumping everything that was currently giving me stress, anxiety, fear, and worry. Just write what comes to mind. You don’t need to write your entire life story, but start with the present moment and what you are feeling. For me, this ended up triggering many memories as to where these feelings and beliefs stemmed from.
I had gotten into the first page and a half and wasn’t feeling anything. Then as I continued to write, something struck a chord within me and throughout writing the next seven pages I was sobbing, I was feeling multiple emotions, and I got ugly with it. I then re-read it and cried some more. I had no idea how badly I had suppressed my emotions. I started writing at about 9:00 PM thinking that would give me plenty of time to write and go to bed. Spirit must have known that was a joke because I was up until 1:00 AM! I didn’t even come close to realizing how much work this will really take for me.
Everyone will experience their shadow work differently, as we all are on our own unique path. Nobody else will read what you write, so be real with yourself. After writing, you can re-read it to yourself whether in your head or aloud. The point is to feel your words and thoughts. After you are finished, find a safe place and way to burn the paper (or if you don’t have access to this, rip it up and flush it down the toilet). You need to release everything you have written. Watch the smoke rise and drift away, taking this pain and trauma with you. If needed, find an additional outlet to let these feelings go; whatever feels right for you. The point is to learn and grow!
Why would you even want to put yourself through something like this? To come out shining and stronger on the other side. To get to the next level and eventually awaken to your truest self.
I would love to hear how your shadow work has helped you, and what practices worked for you if you feel called to share in a comment!