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Shadow Integration

Updated: Feb 10

Remember the beginning of the movie Peter Pan? Peter looses his shadow and needs Wendy to help him sew it back on. Well that's shadow work!! Just kidding, its not. But spiritual terms can be confusing and weird. With so much content on social media centering around spirituality and becoming more self aware, it can be easy to become familiar with buzzwords without actually having a well built foundation for understanding their concepts. When spiritual terms become defined by prevailing social and cultural thought rather than an accurate description it can get confusing, quick. If you're interested in learning more about "shadow work" maybe grab a mug of something warm and lets dive in.

The beginning seems like a good place to start. So, lets answer the question- "What is a Shadow, anyway?" The idea of a "Shadow Self" was introduced by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. The term Shadow is meant to help create a tangible concept of dark side of the human psyche. When you hear "dark side" don't automatically assume that to be synonymous with bad, think more along the lines of lights on and lights off. The dark side of the human psyche is more fully described as unseen, hidden or covered. To state the concept in plain terms, "The Self" is you and you are made up of the things you are both consciously and unconsciously aware of. The Shadow resides in our unconscious aspects of Self. The shadow acts as a home for the unwanted and unprocessed qualities of the Self.

Shadow work is when we begin to observe, learn from and heal the things we keep hidden. I like to think of the Shadow as the compassionate place that houses all of the things I needed to hide at some point, in order feel safe. There are many reasons why we would need the Shadow to hold on our behalf. Let's name a few:

- Low emotional maturity. (This can simply mean being an actual child when you moved an aspect of Self into the Shadow. It can also refer to not being given access to examples of healthy relationships and boundaries.)

- Home environments that are not hospitable to vulnerability. (If it being safe isn't a reliable outcome that you can mostly trust to receive from your environment, learning to hide and suppress becomes an essential skill.)

- Lack of necessary resources for change and growth. (Things like- time, education and support.)

- Continued traumatic experiences. (When the hits keep coming it's hard to heal.)

Shadow Work is the process of identifying and caring for the things that live in our Shadow. In doing this, we learn to integrate the Shadow and heal the pieces of ourselves that we felt the need to hide. Becoming aware of the unconscious mind is often described as feeling like an awakening. Learning to acknowledge and love the things that make you feel shame, guilt or fear is an act of radical compassion. Truthfully, the self awareness that comes with learning to move between the conscious and unconscious mind can feel euphorically liberating and existentially exhausting. While I don’t believe any emotions to be inherently “bad,” I do believe that held emotions of any kind create imbalances. When the cost of the imbalance becomes greater than the benefit of keeping something in the shadow, an opportunity to begin shadow work will arise.

In Shadow Work things like Anger, Shame, Guilt, Doubt, Depression and Hate become our teachers.

Anger shows us injustice and the places that do not bring us joy.

Shame illuminates the things that hold us captive.

Guilt reminds us of the parts of ourselves we have not yet made peace with.

Doubt shows us the limitations of our belief.

Depression gives us the opportunity to sink into the darkness of our depths and bring things up to the surface that need our attention. (This is different then clinically diagnosed depression. You can take your meds and still be a spooky, shadow working baddie.)

Hate illuminates the boundaries we will not tolerate being crossed.

If we refuse to allow the dark aspects of Self to have as many necessary lessons for us as the light aspects of Self, we risk staying stuck in suffering. Sometimes a familiar suffering is more tolerable than the unknown of change. That is okay. You set the pace for your growth.

Shadow Work, Enlightenment and Awakening are not a race.

If you feel the call to explore your Shadow, it is my pleasure to teach you how to sit in the dark and not be afraid. It is my joy to show you how to embrace destruction when it comes. It is one of the most meaningful parts of my work to show you how to move freely from shadow to light and love both.

If you're interested in pulling the skeletons out of your closet and giving them a big ol' bear hug together... Click the button down here to set up a session!

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