By: Bec Robertson
The term ‘shadow work’ sounds ominous. But, in reality, ‘shadow work’ leads to insights that move us forward in positive ways.
Shadow work is simply confronting limiting beliefs and ideas that we hold about ourselves or the world. These appear in the form of anxious thoughts, negative thinking, low self esteem, low self worth, flat mood and low motivation. Because our energy is tied up in these limiting beliefs and ideas, it can leave little room to make large scale inroads into our goals and dreams.
We don’t need to see the ‘shadow’ as a dark place, full of misery. If we embrace the ‘shadow’ as a place of insight, we can overcome what we find there. Very often, we will need help and support to confront what we find in shadow spaces. Not because it is insurmountable, but simply because a steadying guide can provide much needed grounding that is necessary for shadow work.
Steps for ‘shadow work’:
- Shadow work is confronting limiting beliefs and ideas that we have developed or taken on throughout our life. They are often not even our own beliefs and ideas, just ones that have ‘attached’ to us as we move through the world.
- These limiting beliefs and ideas usually manifest as anxious thoughts, negative thinking, low self esteem, low self worth, flat mood and low motivation. They may also lead us to addictive and compulsive behaviours in an attempt to push down the ‘shadow’ that we don’t want to confront.
- In fact, confronting the ‘shadow’ is a positive step because it allows us to release old ways of thinking about ourselves, events and the world. We then free up energy for more life-promoting activities.
- Doing ‘shadow work’ is always best done with a trusted guide or mentor, who has an objective view of the situation. This is because the work requires a lot of grounding in order to handle the high amounts of energy being released.
- We shouldn’t confront our shadow without utilising tools such a good nutrition and fitness for energy support. Shadow work takes a lot of energy and we want to put in as much nutritional and physical support as we can.
- Never attempt shadow work without addressing any mental health, addiction or medical issues first. You should always seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner to address such issues. Different modalities view matters of wellbeing in different ways. Whilst working on ‘the shadow’ from a holistic perspective is vital, you should never exclude the support and treatment that qualified medical practitioners can provide. A variety of approaches targeting different aspects is usually the most effective tool. Anyone with a past history of trauma should always work with a trauma informed practitioner.
The totality of our ‘shadow’ is simply all the beliefs and ideas that we have adopted as we go throughout life. Although together they can appear overwhelming, when broken down into smaller parts, we see that they are often irrational. Once we confront them in this way, we can quickly adopt more life-promoting beliefs. And move forward towards our goals and dreams in a more impactful way.
NB: This article is not intended to be medical or mental health advice. It is not a substitute for such advice. Always consult a qualified medical practitioner for any medical or mental health symptoms/issues.