What is Shadow Work?
The Shadow is defined as the unconscious mind, the part of ourselves that we aren’t privy to and like an app, sits running in the background watching our every move. The study of psychology says, the way we act, react and think stem from the belief systems stored in this place.
The downside of this is that roughly 90 percent of our life is run from subconscious developments established in our formative years. Let me just say, that If you didn’t already know this, I mirror your level of shock at the notion that your entire adult life has been run by systems set in place by your childhood self. But, I assure you, outside of trauma inducing events, that’s the case.
As adults we often seek to recreate the relationships and ideals we encountered as children, this could mean seeking emotionally unavailable partners that mimic absent parental figures or creating chaos where there is none in order to recreate the instability felt from growing up in traumatic, maybe even abusive environments. Now , this is an oversimplification of a somewhat complicated process but hopefully, you get the gist.
Ok so, now that we have a basic understanding of what the shadow is, how do we change it and how does this equate to shadow work?
I've found that the best way to change these behaviors is through the process commonly known as “shadow work” This is the process of examining our childhood and behaviors to:
- understand “how” and” why” we do things
- remove destructive cultural/religious programming
- heal trauma
- identify + dismantle toxic patterns and coping mechanisms
- relearn new, healthy ways to deal with stressors
- live intentionally
- return to our natural state of sovereignty
Doing shadow work is important when establishing your baseline. Understanding where you are on your healing journey can show you exactly where to position your baseline affirmations. For example, If you are learning to love your body, create an affirmation around body positivity.
You would then practice embodying that energy through a daily self care activity like Abhyanga, the ayurvedic practice of self massage. Your feelings during this daily practice will help you gauge where you are on your healing journey while also empowering you with the information you need to distinguish your energy from others.
*If you'd like to dive deeper or are unsure where to start, I encourage you to snag the Dear Me, deck from our shop. Its filled with all kinds shadow work prompts for beginners. Feel free to use the prompts as a daily check-in with yourself, either verbally or as shadow work journal ideas.
Setting Boundaries & Being Assertive
Boundaries! Everybody needs them! Not many understand them or how to use them.
Boundaries are your best friend. Clairsentient gifts come in gradually, and if you follow my advice and identify your baseline, it won’t be long before you realize how many people are sucking you dry. The sudden and frequent dips in energy that you’ve been using caffeine to fix?
The reason you feel drained at the end of your work day? At family events? With certain friends and partners? Energy Vampires! Sounds scary, but it’s not. If you haven’t realized it by now, your initially annoying gift of feeling and reading energy positions you as a POWERFUL healer and mystic.
You not only feel energy, you can influence it too. Your body is a literal transmutation device, which is why you have this gift. Your presence is a present! You are absorbing the energy in the room, transmuting it in your body and giving off healing energy. This is the reason that people are either obsessed with or repelled by you. Your light protects you from the lower energies because its incredibly healing but it also attracts desperate souls who need to feed/latch on to your energy to find relief. These people will try to position themselves in your life through your emotions.
If you are in the introductory stages of your gift, pay close attention to your long time friends and family members and sift through those who casually use tools of emotional manipulation and set boundaries accordingly. Although you have the ability to heal, it is not your responsibility to help those who are unwilling to put in the effort to heal and help themselves.
The ability to feel emotional blockages in others physically hurts. Insecurity is the most common emotion you will feel and it feels like a stabbing pain in your kidney and will run over into intense nausea, depending on the environment.
You do not have the luxury of being in toxic relationships or environments. Your surroundings need to be peaceful and nourishing for you to be at your best. Remember, you need to be able to distinguish your energy from others and this doesn’t occur without healthy boundaries. Implement them. Be firm, Be clear, and Adjust when necessary. PLEASE be prepared to walk away from ANYONE who chooses to violate them.
Establishing boundaries can be a tricky and emotional thing for you and those you set them with. If, you’ve come from a family like mine, where boundaries are completely foreign be prepared for the discomfort and potential temper tantrums exhibited by grown ass adults.
I encourage you to feel your way through any discomfort or angst you may feel when initiating this process, I've included a few examples for you to practice with. Feel free to add any exclamation points, dramatic hand gestures and tonal inflections to suit your communication style. (It makes it more enjoyable)
- "I’m not really feeling/onboard with the direction this conversation is going in, so I'm going to go." (Then walk away. You don’t need their permission or approval to remove yourself)
- “No”, “Nah”, “Not interested”, “ Thanks, but no” and my personal favorite, “ It’s not a thing I desire to do”
- "I think this conversation is better had with_____."
- "If you aren't willing to consider me, I’m not willing to go. "
Lastly, my hope is that you will choose to be, first shocked, then amused at the way grown folk act (reread that with your best southern accent) when you don’t respond in the ways you once did. While being quite hilarious it also helps to put into perspective how child-like most people are and like a bratty-only-child, snatch your mf power back.