Shadow work: Understanding your shadow and making friends with it!

Shadow | Work | 18th January 2022 | Virtual Wire


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What is the shadow self? It is the part of us we don’t like, our flaws that have been buried deep down It refers to the parts of ourselves that we consciously or unconsciously(mainly) choose to neglect.

It refers to the parts of us that we deem unfavourable or unacceptable. It is that part of us that we think is unlikeable. It falls into the category of negative emotions that get generated during a situation such as (guilt, shame, fear, anger) We call this the shadow since we have eventually learnt to not only not pay attention to this shadow, but also omit it out of our view so that we don't have to deal with it and are accepted by others.

What is Shadow work? Shadow work is more commonly known as self-reflection or Introspection. All of us have at some point in our life, introspected either a situation, a reaction or an emotion. But what sets apart shadow work from just introspection is the fact that shadow work not only brings your attention to the emotion, situation or reaction but also chooses to delve deeper and come to the root cause of what brought about this seedling of negative emotion to where it is today.

Before you start the journey towards your shadow self and healing, here are a few things to

remember while or before you get into it -

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  1. Shadow work on some days will be harder as compared to other days. While visiting your darker parts, sometimes we might encounter a few bumps. These bumps might be really high or really small. But a gentle reminder is that you will get past that bump. This leads me to my second point.

  2. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. While dissecting the shadow self, remember that being kind to yourself on the days that negative emotions take over or are confronted is crucial. Being hard on yourself is a way of not allowing yourself to accept that you are human and have flaws. Accept that you made mistakes or are not happy you acted or reacted in a certain way. But also remember that these flaws can be overturned and there is space for improvement and love for oneself.

  3. It is very crucial to remember that the process of doing shadow work is not something that will happen overnight. This is a long and sometimes extremely uncomfortable journey that one must take purely for ones’ personal pleasure for becoming a better version of themself. How to do Shadow work? One of the most common ways of doing shadow work is through journaling. Simply sitting down and writing about a certain incident or emotion and trying to dissect why you reacted a certain way or why you felt a certain way can be a place to start.

The key here is to be aware. Once the why has been sought it is now time for step two, where you try and delve deeper into how this behaviour or emotion came about? Asking yourself questions is another way to work on your shadow self.


Ask yourself - why do you feel this way? Do you feel this way in every situation that is similar to the one you experienced? Why or what exactly regarding the situation/emotion/reaction bothered you or triggered you the most? Another way to also reflect is to talk it out with someone else. Professional help by meeting and talking it out with them is a great alternative. Not only will you get an unbiased opinion, but you will also learn and figure out ways to overcome these shadow parts.

Once you have analyzed the root cause (over a period of time in some situations) it is now time to bring in the habit/ reaction that will help you break away from that negative feeling/reaction or emotion. It is time to ask the How? How do I change my reaction? How do I respond when I find myself feeling negative emotions? It is necessary to substitute negative emotions or reactions with positive ones. One way to do this is by reaffirming that you are aware that you are in control of what you say. What others do is not in your control.

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By taking control of your responses, you not only handle a situation with ease, but you also recognise that you can either react with negative emotions or respond with a positive one. Overall Shadow Work focuses on the flawed side of oneself that we are told to suppress. It is a way to make peace with the shadow, acknowledge it and treat it as a friend and not an outsider. The process of confrontation with oneself is sometimes intimidating and uncomfortable. But in the long run, it will lead to living a more authentic, appreciated and self loved journey with oneself.

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