How to Do Shadow Work: Seven Steps to Simplify Shadow Work

Sharing is good karma!

The idea of “shadow work” is nothing new. And the concept of the shadow is something I’ve been discussing for a while now on my YouTube channel. I believe that we have the “shadow” severely misunderstood! I also believe the idea of shadow work is alot scarier than the actual shadow work itself. This ‘idea’ of the shadow work actually turns people off from it! I created this list of 7 steps to shadow work in order to display how shadow work doesn’t have to be difficult! Here is: Shadow Work: Simplified! 7 Steps on How to Do Shadow Work.

As a reminder: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be! Any claims in this article about how to do shadow work are based on my personal experience and research. Please read my full medical disclaimer before engaging with my content or anecdotes. Also, as a reminder, this post contains affiliate links to certain products and I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you make a purchase based off of my suggestions. 

How to Do Shadow Work: Seven Steps to Simplify Shadow Work

The Concept of the Shadow

The shadow self is our hidden self. This shadow self is made up of the feelings, thoughts, and parts of ourselves that we might not always show to others. There’s a common misconception that the shadow self is dark which implies evil. However, there are often many great traits hidden in the shadow self.

What Hides in the Shadow

Many times there are some negative things like anger, jealousy, insecurities, fears, resentments and more hidden in our shadow. Alongside those negative emotions there can also be traits about ourselves (impatience, insecurities, etc) that we don’t like hiding in the shadow. Alternatively, traits that we suppress in fear of them not being received well by others can hide in the shadow.

There can also be unexpressed desires hidden in our shadow. These are things that we don’t want to admit consciously that we desire because we have a subconscious fear that we don’t deserve these things or won’t ever be able to obtain them.

Oftentimes there are memories or experiences hidden in the shadow – these are often things that our subconscious mind has pushed away because they’re uncomfortable or painful to think about.

But the things hidden in the shadow aren’t all bad! Some of my greatest strengths were hiding in my shadow for me to uncover them. Sometimes our subconscious mind pushes away creative ideas or unique perspectives to protect us from not being received well by society, family, friends, co-workers and other peers.

Other times, some of our biggest strengths and potential lies within our shadow – waiting for us to dig into it. I wouldn’t be here writing these articles and creating my YouTube videos if I didn’t dig into my shadow to find the courage to put myself out there for the world to see! My talent and potential for articulating these things was hiding in my shadow because I was afraid I would fail

Which is why it is imperative to dig into the shadow self – to uproot this subconscious programming. If we don’t learn to control the shadow – the shadow is subconsciously controlling us.

What is Shadow Work?

Imagine your mind is like a big room with lots of stuff in it – your thoughts, feelings, and memories. Shadow work is like cleaning up that room. But it’s not just about picking up the obvious mess. It’s looking in the corners, under the bed and in the back of drawers, hidden aspects of the closet and areas where it’s dark and you might not want to go (or think that you don’t have to because “no one else will ever see it).

Shadow work is shining a light on those things that are hiding in the dark spaces and accepting them as part of who you are. As I mentioned above they aren’t necessarily always “dark” or “bad” things)

When you do shadow work, you’re not just cleaning things up! Shadow work also creates the understanding why they were hidden in the shadow in the first place and learning from it. It’s like turning on a light in that dark room of your mind and seeing that the scary shadows aren’t so scary after all. By facing your shadows, you become more whole and in control of yourself, which can lead to greater happiness and inner peace.

How to Do Shadow Work: Seven Steps to Simplify Shadow Work

I created these “steps” to shadow work so that it can simplify the process and make it a little easier to digest. Oftentimes, we are so afraid of the concept of the shadow or of shadow work that we never even try to dig into the shadow! If we don’t know “how to do shadow work” – we will never do shadow work! I hope that if we knew that the process of “how to do shadow work” was fairly simple, more of us would do it. Without further adieu: here’s the 7 steps and how to do shadow work:

How to Do Shadow Work: Step One

Be prepared to admit harsh truths to yourself.

If you’re not ready to admit you’ve been making mistakes or if your ego is too enlarged to believe that you could possibly do anything wrong (who are you, Jesus?) – this might be the hardest step. Chances are, if you get here, something isn’t working in your life. And shadow work is going to help you to dig into what that “it” might be.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Two

Be prepared to feel emotional pain.

And also prepare for emotional pain that may feel like physical pain. None of this pain will kill you and what doesn’t kill you ~only makes you stronger~. And as they say, “you have to feel it to heal it”.

Sometimes the only way out of emotional pain is through emotional pain.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Three

Self-Reflect

Reflect on repeating patterns or habits or recurring themes throughout your life – these are often subconscious. For me a big pattern that was controlling so much of my life was the fear of rejection and just insecurities tied into that but other common themes are:
-fear of abandonment
-perceived weakness/ avoidiance or denial of vulnerability 
-control issues 
-anger or aggression
-fear of failure
-shame and guilt
-unacknowledged desires (fear of unworthiness or feelings of “not being good enough”) 

It’s also good to self-reflect with others. We are often our own worst critic so I highly recommend confiding in a friend, a family member, a mentor, a therapist, or a spiritual counselor during your period of reflection. Sometimes trusted confidants can give us an alternative perspective that we might be blind to (due to our shadow, subconscious mind).

As a reminder, I also offer one-on-one intuitive guidance sessions via phone call, FaceTime or zoom. Healing is an internal journey but sometimes we need external guidance to navigate it! I’d be honored to hold your hand on your journey. I have 30-minute sessions (which can be booked here) or 60-minute sessions (which can be booked here). If you’re unsure about what working with me would look like and want to chat with me a bit first to see if we’re a good fit – you can book a free 15-minute discovery call here.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Four

Sit With Yourself

Regardless if you’re digging something “positive” or “negative” out of your shadow – bringing those things to the surface may be uncomfortable. Our first instinct when something is uncomfortable? To leave.

Step four of “how to do shadow work” is simply just sitting with yourself. Sitting with the discomfort. Circling back to step two – knowing it won’t kill you.

Spending time with yourself and sitting with yourself and your feelings is necessary for you to understand yourself and the whole point of shadow work is to know and understand yourself better.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Five

Allow The Feelings to Flow

When you’ve committed to steps one through four – preparing to admit harsh truths, preparing for emotional pain, self-reflecting and sitting with yourself… eventually.. feelings are going to bubble up.

Your task with step five of how to do shadow work is to let them. Don’t fight those feelings. Don’t swallow the tears. Let those feelings flow.

When I first started leaning into shadow work and feeling my feelings – it was so foreign and so uncomfortable to me that I had to create safe spaces for me to allow those feelings to bubble up. If feeling (especially the uncomfortable feels) is new to you, like it was to me, I wrote up an article on My Favorite Places and Spaces to Feel my Feelings. I also wrote up a guide on How to Remove Stored Emotions from the Body and Lose Emotional Weight.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Six

Allow the Feelings to Consume You

When I say consume you I mean that literally. This is how we do shadow work! Allowing those feelings to consume you, over power you, to be so fully felt that you feel them all over. As I mentioned earlier, you have to feel it to heal it. And I also noted that sometimes the emotional pain can feel like physical pain. I remind you: it won’t last! It won’t be forever! You won’t die!

I also really implore you to watch my video on how to do shadow work on YouTube because I share more about my own experience and how yes, it hurt, but only for a little bit of time. And after it was over – I felt SO MUCH BETTER and I truly feel invincible.

How to Do Shadow Work: Step Seven

Give Yourself Grace

You might pull some ugly memories or other tough truths to face out of your shadow. Please don’t beat yourself up over what you find in there. You didn’t know better then, so you couldn’t do better. We do shadow work so that we can know better moving forward.

If the idea of these “how to do shadow work” steps, of allowing feelings to consume you for a few minutes, hours, or even days is discouraging to you… I want to remind you that if you don’t face them head on… they will control you subconsciously for your entire life. Would you rather have a few days or even a month or two of discomfort or live your entire life wondering “what if”?

How to Do Shadow Work: Seven Steps to Simplify Shadow Work

I highly recommend watching my YouTube video on this topic! I share my experience with each of these steps and dive deeper into these seven steps that simplify shadow work.

Sharing is good karma!

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