By: Chloe Hong
Everyone around you, from your annoying coworker to your sweet neighbor, has a dark side.
Commonly referred to as the “shadow” by experts, tapping into and accepting this repressed side of yourself can be vital to your personal development.
Firstly, what is the “shadow”?
Coined by psychologist Carl Jung, the term “shadow self” refers to aspects of ourselves we choose to repress, often due to guilt or shame.
However, these aspects of ourselves aren’t necessarily evil or harmful as the term “shadow” would insinuate.
According to Jungian analyst Aniela Jaffe, our shadows consist of everything we deem unacceptable or incompatible with how we choose to be perceived and are thus repressed.
What is shadow work?
Shadow work is a psychological practice where you try to get in touch with your shadow.
Some shadow work exercises include:
- Think about people that bother you
Thoroughly examine what bothers you about these people and why. Carl Jung put it best when he said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
When we aren’t in touch with our shadow selves, we’re prone to projection. Often what we dislike in others, we dislike in ourselves.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
Taking note of and writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand your subconscious mind.
You may begin to notice emotional or behavioral patterns, allowing you to move through life with enhanced awareness.
Use meditation to focus on difficult emotions, negative thought patterns, unresolved fears, and more. By acknowledging these parts of yourself without judgment, you’re better able to bring these hidden parts of yourself into consciousness.
What’s the point of shadow work?
Shadow work can help people become more fulfilled, complete, and balanced.
By acknowledging all aspects of life, the good and the bad, you’ll lead a more authentic existence.
Ignoring a problem is a temporary solution. Only through facing our problems head-on can we make progress towards healing and peace.
But be warned, shadow work can be incredibly difficult and painful. If you have suffered through immense pain and trauma, consulting a therapist or expert to safely guide you through the process is advised.
However, shadow work can be done by anyone.
By embracing both the light AND dark parts of ourselves, we can learn to embrace ALL parts of ourselves.
Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about shadow work, @elevatedbyem on TikTok has shared multiple shadow work prompts that can help you get started.