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We’ve all heard of shadow work, but what exactly is it? Shadow work is the process of exploring and integrating the parts of ourselves that we tend to bury or deny—the aspects of our personalities that don’t fit into our ideal image. It’s an act of self-reflection and self-compassion that allows us to gain greater insight into ourselves, as well as a deeper understanding of our connection with the divine.
Shadow work has been one of the most important components of my spiritual journey. To become more aware of who we truly are, to grow, evolve, and connect to ourselves and others more deeply, we must be open and willing to reflect on the good AND the bad of self.
Some questions that I often ask myself throughout the day as a part of my work is:
- Why do I feel this way about this person, situation, or thing? Does the feeling stem from somewhere deeper in me?
- Why did I respond to this person this way?
- Why am I avoiding this person?
- Why do I feel so agitated right now?
- Did I handle that situation in the best way? If not, how come?
- How do you feel today?
- Why do I feel so resistant toward this?
- Am I doing this because it is an expectation of others?
- Does this truly make me happy or bring me peace?
- Is this argument more about my ego?
These questions often reveal more about my biases, triggers, ego, and trauma – and most of the time, it provides me with the perspective to move forward more mindfully, compassionately, gracefully, and gratefully.
Shadow work specifically involves looking at our darker aspects—our fears, doubts, pain, and desires—and coming to terms with them. It’s about embracing all parts of ourselves—not just the features that are socially acceptable or easy to accept. This can be incredibly difficult because it requires us to face our vulnerabilities and insecurities head-on. However, this is an essential part of spiritual growth; by learning to accept all aspects of ourselves, we can move closer to authentic harmonious living.
The benefits of shadow work on your spiritual journey are numerous. For starters, engaging in shadow work helps you become more mindful and aware of yourself; by becoming conscious of the thoughts and emotions that drive us daily, we can better understand why we act in specific ways or think certain things. Engaging in shadow work helps build resilience when you make peace with your shadows. You will naturally become less affected by external circumstances around you because you know who you are regardless of what other people say or do. According to ‘Heathline’s: A Guide to Shadow Work Plus 5 Exercises from Experts to Get Started’, some other benefits of shadow work can include feeling whole or integrated as a person, improved interactions with others, healing generational trauma, and healthy ways to meet your needs.
Shadow work may seem daunting at first glance, but it has immense benefits for those willing to self-improve! By exploring our “shadow” selves, we learn to accept all sides of ourselves without judgment or fear. Doing so opens many doors for personal growth and healing. If you’re currently on a spiritual journey, starting one soon, or simply looking to self-improve, this will be the most important step in your journey!