Popularised by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, Shadow Work helps explore the “dark” sides of yourself. We call them dark/shadows as they are the aspects of yourself that you have rejected, suppressed, ignored, denied and disowned. And all of us have them. We had to do it because they were/are too uncomfortable or painful to feel. Maybe they helped us to fit into society, or to be loved by our family. But these aspects never went away. Instead, they became part of our unconscious, and they keep manifesting in our lives from this unconscious level, putting us in situations where we keep feeling “negative” emotions, where we feel that we have no control of our lives, and where we end up perpetuating the cycle.
How it works
When we do Shadow Work, we give a voice to these aspects of us. It’s an introspective psychological process, where the Shadow Worker facilitates this communication with ourselves, holding space for us, and helping us to understand them, creating a positive change in our lives. We bring the unconscious to the conscious. We don’t help ourselves by forcing light into the dark. That just amplifies this rejection of ourselves. We help ourselves when we understand the dark. And this brings in the light organically.
The benefits of doing Shadow Work are becoming fully yourself, and authentic. Just with this, well-being happens, you stop being in survival mode and move into creation mode, life opens up, your heart opens up, and you free yourself. It also helps with addictions and/or with any other behaviour that is not adding well-being to your body and your life.
It improves your immune system, your health and your mood.
It also helps improve your communication and your relationships, and it enhances your well-being in your life.
Suitable age range
You should be at least 20-25 years old.
Cautions/contraindications if applicable
If you do Shadow Work, please be aware that you’ll probably feel uncomfortable emotions. This is what is needed. And it’s OK. The Shadow Worker will be with you all the time. Also, know too, that usually once you’ve felt them, emotions will improve organically and you’ll feel better every time.
Don’t start Shadow Work if you won’t compromise with yourself and the changes that will happen.
Don’t do it with just anyone. Please choose a professional who is in the field, who knows what they are doing and who will be there for you.
Suitability of therapy to be used alongside others/conventional treatment
It can be used alongside other treatments, but just because this practice requires deep honest introspective, it’s not recommended to do other therapies in a similar field, because it could be too much to feel at once. And this could be harmful instead of beneficial for you. You wouldn’t allow yourself to integrate the emotions and, in a way, you would be bulldozing yourself. So have compassion for yourself and take the time that you need.
Marta Canadell – April 2022