In this process of intimate journeying, we traverse the terrain of the psyche as we explore our shadow sides, uncovering those parts we have denied, repressed, hidden and are ashamed of.
Once we begin to acknowledge these unloved aspects, understand our hidden motives and reclaim fragments of our displaced aspects, we enter an alchemical crucible and go a step further transforming our shadow into our ally and move towards coming from a place of bliss in each and every moment we encounter with life.
Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, describes how the human psyche is split into the persona, which is the aspect of the self of which you approve and with which you identify, and the shadow, which consists of those parts of the self that are split off from the rest of one’s consciousness, but still attached in the unconscious mind.
The mystery and paradox of being human is that we hold both the dark and the light.
Essentially, the shadow refers to those aspects that we are ashamed of and would rather ignore, repress and hide not just from others, but also from ourselves.
According to Jung’s notion of the shadow, there are always going to be motivations and behaviours that we are not going to be in complete awareness of. In most cases, our shadow is more observable by others than it is for us to see.
What do we mean when we refer to doing one’s ‘shadow work’?
In essence, shadow work is the ongoing process of not only uncovering those aspects of our psyche that we have denied and polarised, but consciously bringing them to balance with our conscious self and integrating those aspects with our whole identity.
The goal is to come to terms with and accept the undesirable traits and characteristics of our personality – those hidden impulses and desires that we (or society) deem to be unacceptable.
Shadow work is definitely not an intellectual exercise; it’s a journey from the head to the heart.