How do I start my shadow work practice?
As much as I’d love to give you a simple answer for this, I sure haven’t found one. With each and every one of my clients, it looks a little different. There are a few similarities in techniques, but we are all so intricately different so it makes the answers to this question vary greatly. I can, however, tell you that it all begins with a choice, a keen and earnest commitment to making a change, whatever that may look like for you.
How will shadow work affect my daily life?
The nature of shadow work is mysterious. In doing the work, you may find yourself wanting different things than you did before. Ultimately, your practice will consist of a variety of techniques uniquely dependent on your own experiences and preferences. It truly depends on your level of authenticity in your current life. Shadow work is about bringing awareness and integration to all of our different parts, especially the uncomfortable things we tend to cover up. The more fragmentation or distortion in your authentic self, the more probability that you are wearing a lot of masks. As those masks are removed, it will impact your experience in countless ways. Shadow work lends itself to improving your sense of peace, confidence, and security and with regular practice your life will change in unexpected ways.
Why doesn't my therapist/counselor/psychiatrist ect. teach shadow work?
Shadow work is not intended to replace your current mental health care team. It simply joins the crew. In shadow work, there aren’t constraints regarding metaphysical and spiritual practices and techniques as there are with the modern mental health care system here in the US. Oftentimes, those who seek shadow work are neurodivergent, empathic, or extra sensory in some way. These individuals struggle to fit into society in a way that is easily interpreted by those who are not. The approach of shadow work incorporates experiences and beliefs that typical behavioral health providers may not understand. Mental health care and shadow work, together, make for a more rounded approach to the self from different perspectives.
How do I talk about my shadow work practice with those I care about?
This is a very sensitive question. With something like this, I would always first recommend that you trust your intuition about it. However, most people starting shadow work don’t yet know how to decipher their intuition from their primitive mind. They don’t know the sound of their own voice yet. So, I would encourage a practice in authenticity. Be clear, be vulnerable, and be honest with those who are close to you. It can be scary, but it will work twofold. It will give you the opportunity to practice expressing your authentic self, and it will reveal to you the true nature of your relationships with those people.
Will shadow work cure my ___________?
That’s truly something that only you and your mental healthcare team can answer. I can say that I personally have carried a string of diagnosis throughout my life, and I wouldn’t say that they are cured, but more that my relationship to them has changed profoundly. I no longer suffer from my diagnosis, but I have learned to use them as a guiding light to personal expansion and deep internal growth. The intention of shadow work isn’t to eliminate unwanted and uncomfortable experiences, but rather to honor those experiences and make sense of them.
Why do I need a mentor, coach, or support group when starting a shadow work practice?
You can absolutely do shadow work on your own. Just as you can take on sobriety after addiction on your own. Sure, it might be possible, but it can be much more difficult navigating the practice on your own, leading to frustration or disappointment and a sense of failure. It can be extremely difficult to see the ways in which you are living on autopilot. Shadow work not only helps you see that, but it teaches you to drive. Having someone who has done this work, and has extensive experience teaching it to others, can help you to see the patterns in your behavior and beliefs. Getting connected to a community of others who are at varying states in their own process will catapult you into your success. To have a physical representation that you are not alone is priceless.
How long do I have to do shadow work? Is shadow work ever finished?
Nope. It’s a lifelong deal, as far as I know. However, I can say that it becomes almost effortless. Just a natural state of existing, and interpreting your experiences in life. The more integrated you become, the deeper your relationship gets with your life and those who you choose to share it with. The less distortion you have, the clearer the signal.
Does shadow work hurt?
It certainly can. It can also be scary, and lonely. This is why having a mentor and support group are such valuable tools. Someone to hold your hand, and help you finally process all of those deep dark feelings you’ve been running from for so long makes all of the difference in the world. Pain is a powerful messenger of truth in our lives, and the goal is to face that pain with compassion, courage, and resilience.