Shadow Work and What to Do With It
Trigger Warning: Psychological issues are discussed having to do with mental and emotional health.
Shadow Work is a term popularized by Carl Jung, which essentially means learning to accept all sides of your character and who you are, or "integrating your shadow." Observing who you are and even the parts of you that you don't necessarily want to look at, for whatever reason, due to past negative memories associated with it, and in order to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of who you are or to overcome internal obstacles that you may have by recognizing them as something that's not truly a part of you. That it's ok and perfectly "normal" and, in some cases, they can even be turned into strengths or already are and you're just becoming more conscious of it.
Aside from the positive side of Shadow Work, which comes with self-acceptance of who you truly are, a big part of Shadow Work can also be discovering negative memories that may come up to the surface, more and more, once you start working with it.
It's similar to when you meditate and become more aware of the thoughts coming to the surface in your mind.
You may begin realizing that you've been unnecessarily holding onto things, sometimes unconsciously, and, in this case, it can create energetic darkness and internal obstacles that you can overcome. These can be memories that you may be holding onto out of guilt or shame, and it can all collectively create layer after layer of thick, energetic darkness that suppresses your energy and prevents you from truly manifesting the full potential of who you are.
Now, again, nothing is inherently wrong with your shadow, by itself, just as actual shadows are a part of light being obstructed in nature, the same can be true of your own nature and that the darkness within you is only natural. And having a dark side can mean having certain tendencies or personality traits that may work for you or help you live more effectively through such traits. However, letting go of memories, emotions, or desires that get in your way is a whole other thing. It's a kind of self imposed darkness, even if it's been projected onto you by others. There are probably many things that have been projected onto you in life that you were able to just let go of and not hold onto, and sometimes there are things that just seem to persist. It all teaches you a little bit more about yourself and how you handle things in life.
If you consider it a part of you that you like, learn to accept it as a part of your personality and who you are. It's ok.
If you consider it a part of you that you don't like or that you want to get rid of, it may be helpful to take time to study why you held onto it, as there may be a connection with it and other things you may be holding onto. But, if it's something that really has to go, and not something you want to hold onto anymore, you can work to get rid of it.
So, how do you get rid of it?
Look at your successes, at the situations and things that happened to you that you didn't hold onto in a negative way. Go through your positive experiences in life, no matter how fleeting, and make a list if it helps you of all your positive experiences, and start realizing when your life has been good.
With the negative memories, look for solutions. At first, look for the problems, but then find an answer or a way to find closure. Look for ways of moving on from situations of the past. If you reinforced these things for many years and have a lot of guilt and shame associated with them, it may vary as to how long it takes to overcome them, but essentially getting to the point where you realize that you're a good person and that what you did or what happened to you doesn't need to be a life sentence.
Pick something really terrible that you did. Well...did you learn from it? Did it teach you how to be a better person? Sentence served.
Be the judge and let yourself off the hook for once when it comes to all your "crimes" and "misdemeanors." Now, the key to unlocking yourself from the mental and emotional prison that you unintentionally kept yourself in is to walk out of it by stopping the behavior that kept you there, and to leave it behind and never return to it again. Imagine the thoughts and emotions of guilt and shame as a prison cell of your own making and walking away from it forever.
Keep walking and don't look back, and if you do, smile and wave knowing that you served you're time and were in the position to free yourself all along. There is nothing to be guilty of! And remind yourself that if you have a tendency to re-rehearse the thoughts and emotions that kept you there, if it was a habit to reinforce them for so long, remember that you served a sentence that you never had to serve for things that you were never really guilty of! It was either self-imposed or imposed by others, but it was your morals that kept you there, but you can see from going through your memories that the good things you've done in life far outweigh the few bad things you accused yourself of doing and moved on from. And now you're the one who's in charge and gets to decide that you're free. You kept yourself there, so, naturally, you're the only one who can truly free yourself. Enjoy your freedom!
Magick & Witchcraft Online Courses
This is not to be used as psychological or medical advice or to diagnose or be a replacement for treatment. Always seek professionals in the related, respective fields.
Would you like to learn more? Check out Matthew's other online courses:
White Magick Course
A Practical Course in Shadow Work, Energy Work, Protection Magic, Spells and Using it for the Good of Others