Shadow Work Description

Oct 04, 2022

Shadow Work isn’t complex, but it can be pretty painful. Once you heal one emotional wound, the relief you feel will be the motivation you need to keep going to heal the next wound.

We live in a world that operates primarily in its shadows.

Most people are not themselves, at least not their true and genuine and complete selves. Most people exist in their shadow state. This is a trauma response,

At a natural, creation-based level, we are Love. Our Shadow is manufactured out of Fear. It protects us. 

What does your shadow self look like?

Mine was constantly addicted to something. I was anxious and depressed, had no confidence, was a people pleaser, and was poor at setting boundaries. My shadow self can’t communicate effectively and is nervous. I was an attention seeker but tended to be safe in being a hermit.

To paint a quick picture, imagine a child is artistic, but the parents disapprove of hobbies of that interest. To dissuade them from Art, they don’t show any love or support for their child’s passion. 

Children desire love and affection, so they stop creating that which does not bring them love and affection. Later on in life, they feel a sense of anger or annoyance when they see someone else’s art. 

If they were creatively repressed at a very young age, they may have no idea why the art of others triggers an uncomfortable emotional response.

Or if they created art of their own, but they didn’t have the confidence to show it publicly, this could trigger an uncomfortable feeling. Being creative, if punished early on, can elicit a fear-based response later on when connected to art, in various. 

This is just an example to connect something that happened during the early childhood years could elicit misunderstood triggered emotional response years later as an adult.

This is where the discovery begins. What happened in my past made me unconsciously react and feel like that. This wound can be healed so that response no longer occurs. 

When the emotional wound is healed, they may return to their art or feel the courage to share it freely. 

How is it created? The shadow self and shadow work are a Carl Jung construct. They are representations, and the word shadow can mislead due to its dark nature. Another way I describe the shadow is a scab.

Picture yourself as a ball—something we are born with, pure and untouched. As we are wounded emotionally, in other words when our feelings are hurt but not repaired, it creates a scab. 

Scabs evolve all over this ball. The more emotional trauma, the more scabs. Our physical bodies have the ability to repair themselves when wounded. A cut heals itself through scabbing, and then the wound disappears.

Emotional wounds require concentrated efforts to heal. Or they will stay in the scab state forever. Instead of a pure ball, our self becomes covered in scabs; sometimes, new wounds are created over old scabs because there is no more room on the ball.

When we touch a scab, we feel pain. This happens when we are triggers by something. We don’t like pain, so we run from it.

Rock bottom is a place where our entire ball, or self, is covered in scabs. Everything hurts. There are no moments without pain. We no longer express ourselves without pain.

To emotionally heal we must rip the scab off and feel the pain. 

This means going back into whatever trauma and feeling it again, understanding its purpose in our life, learning from it rather than denying it, and then forgiving whoever caused the trauma. Learning to forgive is another segment to this book because it's a complex and misunderstood process that is crucial to our growth.

This is the essence of shadow work. 

It’s about examining who you are today - the parts you don’t like - and figuring out why. It’s about self-awareness rather than self-protection. You are feeling the pain rather than suppressing it. It’s bringing the wounds to light rather than forgetting them and living the lie that our past doesn’t affect our present.

Often, we aren’t conscious of what created our emotional wounds. This is the work part. We retain all memories on a subconscious level. Some are so painful that is why they are suppressed.

Shadow work is the journey of self-discovery. It’s about learning why you think, feel, act and react in a certain way.

In terms of tangible steps, we do the work through our triggers. When something irritates us and makes us uncomfortable for no real reason, this is when we examine our core attachments around this issue.

I’ve observed people who can be very annoyed when someone is getting the attention without “deserving” it. “They’re just doing that for attention,” is something many of us have heard or said ourselves.

Even if that was true, so what? Why doesn’t it bother us so much when people step out of the norm and receive attention? What does that annoy us?

The people we see are mirrors. Our emotions are opportunities to learn. That senseless irritation of someone getting what we perceive as attention is because we ourselves need and crave attention. It’s almost like a type of jealousy. We may not way to receive attention in the same fashion as the person annoying us, but we crave attention.

This is what we learn from our triggers. The reason this is so important is that people allow their triggered moods to control them. Their reactive behaviour, if left unchecked can hurt others around them. When we use the term ‘walking on eggshells,” its because you don’t want to trigger someone and deal with the wrath of their childlike emotions.

This is how emotionally undeveloped children work. Shadow work, and healing, are the process of becoming emotionally developed, also known as becoming an adult. But most of the world is presently operating from the trauma-response shadow state.

So you are aware of a trigger. What’s next? This is when you sit with it. I recommend getting into nature, with no distractions other than a journal, and figure out the root cause of the wounds what traumas? Situation? People?

This can be a simple one.

Our physical bodies require nourishment in the form of food and water. Our emotional bodies need nourishment through love, attention and affection. Most of us didn’t get enough of this. 

By sitting still, you examine these memories of when you didn’t get enough attention and the hurt you created. Your move from unconscious anger to understanding. The adults around you were busy, stressed and didn’t understand emotional development because they weren’t emotionally developed either

When we see someone getting attention for being themselves, this is another trigger level. As kids, we will do anything for that attention, and if it doesn't come from being ourselves, we will become or behave differently to get that attention.

So, watching people be free and do as they can be triggering for others.

I observed this with hippies. People despised dope-smoking, lazy hippies who didn’t conform to the clock. They were harmless, yet hated. This was a mirror for people. They felt life was meant to be rigid and lived by trading time for dollars to buy things you don’t need. Hippies didn’t need something to be happy and were required to work the same.

This triggered the “hard-working man.”

As you are still, painful memories will come up, and we sit with recall how they made us feel. At first, we will be consciously resistant and dismiss our traumas. But this is about you and yourself. If I hurt you, it was traumatic, and that’s all that matters. 

If you had workaholic parents, we didn’t often offer you unconditional attention around the things that interest you. If you constantly had to battle for a parent's attention with another sibling. Suppose you have to do something you don't want to get attention. That’s some traumatic shit. 

Remember, there is nothing wrong with you, and you deserve to be celebrated as your true, genuine self, but if the self never gets the attention it deserves/requires, that affects us developmentally.

Allow the memories to surface, and recall the hurt. It’s often fascinating how we forget as adults just how painful some parts of our childhood were. If the traumas occur before the age of seven, this is going to have a significant big impact on our personality and the shape of the rest of our lives. 

It’s a good idea to journal what you learned from the memories you are recalling. How did that hurt shape you? What did it teach you?



Some people have horrible traumas that are suppressed. Some people are aware of some things that happens , but don’t consciously know the extent of the pain they harbour.

Trauma therapy is real and sometimes necessary. When it comes to things like childhood sexual abuse, people shouldn’t expect to be able to do this kind of healing on their own. 

These memories we suppressed for a reason. Reach out for professional therapy if you know or realize you are burying traumas that are too painful to bare. Disassociation is common with painful traumas like rape. It’s like you separate the part of yourself who is experiencing part of the trauma, and keep it away from the rest of yourself.

Shadow work can be intense. It can release parts of us that have been so suppressed.

Mine was rage. I liked to imagine myself as some laid-back, easy going guy. That was my mask. Inside, I had buried so much frustration and anger and rage that when it surfaced, I seemed like a crazy person. I was saying things I had never said. I was behaving in a way that didn’t line up with how I had ever behaved. 

In short, it scared others. But it was a rage that I needed to release. This was part of my shadow experiences of bringing old emotional wounds to light. I had buried so much emotional pain, like anger, and covered in a layer of external indifference. I wanted to portray that I wasn’t affected by how I had been mistreated.

Years of psychological abuse, with me being told this was normal behaviour, just had me stockpiling my anger since I had stopped expressing my emotions through tears.

So part of my healing, which sounds gentle and benign, turned me into a wild animal experiencing rage for the first time. Anger is healthy and necessary to express; when suppressed it can lead to horrible health problems. I was dealing with several physical health problems that disappeared through Shadow Work.

Be careful and gentle with yourself. Some bottled emotions may need to be expressed, and they can take you to places you’ve never been.

This shadow is between light and dark, but it covers up emotional pains. If those pains run deep and are plenty, you make experience feelings you’ve never felt before.

There are different levels of required Healing because we have experienced different levels of trauma. If you have lived with Mental Illness and Addiction, than you have dealt with serious and unfair emotional traumas, often from the hands of people who have been handed the same traumas. 

Mental Illness and Addictions tend to run in bloodlines, not because of their blood but because of Generational Trauma. 

Shadow work is often undertaken by those at rock bottom, where it’s a choice between heal or die. Ya

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