As complex beings, we exhibit multifaceted personalities consisting of numerous layers. Although we may consciously recognize some aspects of ourselves, there are certain traits we may tend to conceal from the rest of the world or even fail to recognize. These subconscious elements of our psyche are referred to as the shadow self.
The shadow self holds parts of our personality that we suppress or reject consciously or unconsciously because they can be considered unacceptable, undesirable, uncomfortable, or even shameful. These aspects of ourselves are buried deep within our subconscious and become triggered by our environment and experiences. Triggers may include anger, sadness, resentment, criticism, and fear and can influence our behaviours and actions. Results can range from outward reactions or turning inward and suppressing through numbing, self-sabotage, and avoidance. Our emotions, energy, words, and actions also affect others around us, directly or indirectly.
Many difficulties stored within our subconscious come from our formative years, with the most significant years being ages 0-3. The emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual influences shape our belief systems and dictate our behaviours. Entering the shadow requires travelling back in time. To return to the root cause and develop an understanding to resolve and release from the past.
Our shadow self can also affect our body in numerous ways. For instance, if we suppress our emotions or hold onto difficulties from the past, it can lead to physical symptoms such as tension headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain, only to name a few. Similarly, if we ignore our shadow self, we may unconsciously engage in self-destructive behaviours such as addiction, impulsive actions, or unhealthy relationships.
Moreover, the shadow self can limit our ability to reach our full potential in our careers, relationships, and overall well-being. Our subconscious can override our success by creating self-doubt, self-sabotage, and a lack of confidence. For example, if we have a subconscious fear of failure or abandonment that we have suppressed in our shadow, it may prevent us from taking risks in our careers or relationships.
WHAT IS SHADOW WORK?
Shadow work can range from many different styles of practice. Openmindedness is imperative for creating change, and through dialogue, we can act as an observer and uncover hidden aspects through discussion. Through this method, we can address the root cause within ourselves and come to terms with situations of the past to open new pathways for a better future. Expression through communication allows for the release and letting go of memories and limiting beliefs that reside deep within the subconscious.
Self-awareness is vital for observing our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Most importantly, we must not be hard on ourselves when we fall into subconscious patterns. Accountability, openness, and dedication will lead to profoundly life-changing results allowing for a more authentic and fulfilling life, which can positively impact and inspire those around us.
Inner work is a continual journey. There are endless areas to explore within ourselves. By observing difficult times through a lens of self-reflection and compassion while incorporating constructive practices such as mindfulness techniques, meditation, and journaling, we will create a pathway toward change. Alternatively, if we choose not to do this work, subconscious patterns will continue to repeat and influence our life accordingly.
"Feeling listened to and understood changes our physiology; being able to articulate a complex feeling, and having our feelings recognized, lights up our limbic brain and creates an "aha moment." In contrast, being met with silence and incomprehension kills the spirit."
- Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., from The Body Keeps the Score
The results of this work are profound. Healing the body, releasing harmful emotions, liberating from fears and limitations, and even healing unhealthy relationships are positive results of shadow work. From our inner work, we can also contribute to positive change in the world.
Shadow work is about returning to self, discovering hidden aspects that reside deep within, viewing life through different perspectives, reconnecting with our senses, and increasing our consciousness and self-awareness. Although sometimes shadow work can be uncomfortable and challenging, it is ultimately rewarding, leading to greater self-awareness, increased self-acceptance, authenticity, emotional resiliency, improved relationships, inner peace, creativity, and overall well-being.
WHY THE SHADOW
In conclusion, recognizing and addressing our shadow self is critical to personal growth, self-awareness, and success in all areas of life. By acknowledging and integrating our suppressed aspects, we can move towards a more authentic and fulfilling life, which can positively impact and inspire those around us.
As Carl Jung said, "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious."
Tara Kabatoff is an intuitive healer, educator, and mentor who specializes in guiding individuals toward profound self-discovery and transformation, utilizing the deeper aspects of the subconscious and shadow aspect of the self. Her approach reflects a new paradigm of self-discovery.
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