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Shadow Work

What does it mean when in therapy people talk about shadow work? Why is it important? Is it a scary place for you to spend time examining?

Shadow work in therapy is a psychological concept that draws from Jungian psychology. The "shadow" refers to the unconscious and repressed aspects of an individual's personality—the parts they may find undesirable or socially unacceptable. Shadow work involves exploring and integrating these hidden aspects to achieve a whole self rather than just the acceptable parts. What can you learn from the shadow parts? The parts you find unacceptable/ undesirable?

Therapists often use various techniques to help individuals confront and understand their shadows. The goal is to bring these hidden aspects into conscious awareness, allowing individuals to accept and integrate them.

By acknowledging and embracing the shadow, individuals can experience a more holistic sense of self and develop a healthier relationship with their emotions. It's a journey that requires courage and self-reflection, but many find it transformative in fostering personal development and emotional well-being.

Nicole Le Pera has a great workbook called How to Meet Yourself. the section on shadow work contains the following questions that may be useful for you to start to explore your own shadow and how it influences maybe the subconscious decisions/ thoughts/feelings you have on a daily basis.

  • What do you think are some of the worst traits, characteristics, or behaviours a person can have?

  • What traits, characteristics, or behaviours don't you like about yourself?

  • What traits) do you see in people that you notice yourself always feeling envious of (or wish you had)?

  • If ever there was a time when you were young and felt badly about yourself (stupid, foolish, or embarrassed), what happened? What did you think about yourself? How did you feel?

  • What do you think about failure or making mistakes? How do you feel when you fail or make a mistake? Do you accept failure and mistakes as part of life or do you feel yourself consumed by fears of them?

Answering these questions can maybe start to help you understand your triggers and your shadow self. How we interact with others, the thoughts that arise regularly that you maybe don't understand the root can help you to gain more awareness of your shadow self. We all have one, and it can be beneficial to befriend it and understand it more fully.

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