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Do we truly know ourselves? Many of us would answer this question with a YES. However, according to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, this is not the case. Sigmund Freud defined the human psyche in three levels: ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO. The ID is the instinctual part of the human psyche. It is primitive, and it stores sexual desires, aggression, hidden memories. EGO is the part that is influenced by the external world. It is a bridge between the external world and ID. It uses reason to make decisions. But it also seeks material pleasures and satisfaction. Superego, however, is driven by societal norms, rules, laws, regulations. It knows what is right and what is wrong. It controls our unconscious impulses and emotions. Taking this concept as the foundation of his research, Jung identified the ID part of the psyche as our shadow self.
Going back to the initial question of how well do we know ourselves, of course, we have an idea of what our basic desires are, we know what we believe in and what we can and can not accept, we have opinions about people and things. However, according to Jung, there is a part of our psyche that is unknown to us: It operates in a shadow, quietly. It has a profound impact on our actions and emotions. Our personality has two sides: The one that is known to us, and the one that is unknown to us. It is our shadow self. Everything we think to be true about ourselves might be, and most probably is wrong. The devil is in the details. There is a time in everyone's life when they act out of character, unexpectedly. Maybe you show too much anger that is out of proportion or that has no real basis. Perhaps you do something completely against your core beliefs. During these episodes, without us noticing, our shadow self takes control and gets behind the wheel. It is the case for everyone. Everyone has a dark side and a dual personality.
Ha! Even I have two personalities that are clear! You are reading this article on my supplementary blog. But I have my primary blog where I tend to be a little more raucous, outspoken and I tend to tell more stories with curse words. Go ahead and see the difference in my two personalities! Which one is my shadow self, do you think?? 🌝🌚
What exactly is shadow work?
In short, shadow work is getting in touch with our subconscious mind. By diving into our subconscious, we try to hold a light into unconscious thoughts, emotions, fears, and beliefs. We try to bring them into the surface and integrate them into our conscious mind to create a solution that will help us overcome these negative traits. There are many different techniques people use for their personal growth. We will look at the three most effective ones. The purpose of shadow work is to understand ourselves better. Not only understand, but also accept ourselves. There is no need to feel shame or guilt for anything. Instead, we need to find the right way to get to the bottom of things so that we can fix deeper problems that lie in hiding.
As a life coach, you will benefit a lot from these techniques when you interact with your clients. We all go through periods of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and depression. Before we see the light, we all need to get through the night and period of darkness. Three techniques you can use for yourself as well as on your clients will help you reach the next chapter in your life and enable you to become a better and more successful human being.
Three Effective Ways You Can Start Practicing Shadow Work NOW
1.Be positive and believe in yourself
It is important to acknowledge that nothing in life is permanent. This goes both ways. Knowing that all things come to an end and there are highs and lows in life is an important concept to recognize. Especially during tough and trying times, it is important to keep a positive approach. Acknowledge that you are worthy, and you deserve good things, just like everyone else. Getting out of the victim's psychology is essential to finding inner peace. We have a tendency to give up because it is the easiest thing to do. When we give up on something that we so desire, we don't have to deal with the fear of change, the anxiety of the unknown, and the humiliating feeling of defeat. As social beings, we are surrounded by societal norms. Everyone is expecting us to be a certain way and act a certain way. In the vicious circle of expectations, our lives spiral down the rabbit hole. We tend to lose hope that things will get better. It is an escape from reality. If you find yourself struggling with destructive feelings about yourself, try to sit in silence and/or meditate to experience the moment and reflect on your emotions. Even if you simply sit in peace and quiet and just let your thoughts and emotions run through your head, you will see that each time you practice this, you will have a better and deeper understanding of the root of your negative emotions and self-destructive thought patterns. You don't have to try hard to meditate. Become aware of your thoughts and emotions. There is only you at that moment. There are no thoughts or emotions that are bad. It is OK to feel what you feel. Until you examine deeply and get to the core of these thoughts and emotions. It is when you stop rationalizing and projecting things that you will truly find the right way to handle them and fix them. So be completely open and honest with yourself. Try to ask yourself questions as to why you are feeling a certain way, or why did you behave a certain way. Then just wait for your subconscious to answer you. Because the answer always lies within you. It will come out when you stop trying to block them.
2.Face your shadow
Most of the time, we have repeating thought patterns and behaviors. No matter what we do, we can't stop them. It is because we don't yet know how to face these shadows. It might be intimidating at first. for instance, you have a habit that you think is not socially appropriate, yet you like it. You try to find your ways to deal with the feelings of guilt and you come up with excuses each time to explain this behavior to yourself. It might be a sexual act or something that would make you look selfish and uncaring. You tell yourself you are not that person because you would never do it, let alone enjoy it. Then you come up with a long list of excuses, accompanied by a deep feeling of guilt. You get through the moment until it happens again. Each time you give in to this habit, you end up feeling worse about yourself. Why? To face your shadow, you have to ask yourself some bold questions and be ready for the answers. Be also ready to accept the answers. Some negative thought patterns include statements like: I'm not worthy enough; no one loves me because I have nothing to offer to anyone; I can never be like so and so (comparing yourself to someone else)... the list goes on and on. Then ask yourself why you are feeling these. What is it about you to make you doubt yourself so deeply? Do not force yourself to give the answers. The answers have to come out naturally. No matter how long it takes. Eventually, they will come out. You will know it because it will be a completely different experience. Something big like a revelation. At that exact moment, you will feel a big relief and you will feel victorious. There is no mistake about it. When you have the answer, you will face your shadow. It will be the biggest step towards your self-acceptance and recovery.
3.Your shadow is not your weakness, it is your strength
It may sound counter-intuitive to say this. How is my dark side also my potential to grow? You can't defeat the enemy if you don't know it well enough. That's why. Once you identify the source of the problem, you will also know how to change bad behavior and turn it into a positive one. Some shadows might be darker than others. Especially if they are connected to past trauma, extreme emotional distress, abuse, addiction, etc. But they all operate the same way. For instance, if you are struggling with altruism, and you always put others first, you might also struggle to accept the fact that taking care of your personal wants and needs is essential to your mental and emotional balance. You might have a hard time seeing that when you have no boundaries, people take advantage of you often. You will see that people who have strong boundaries and who know how to put themselves first are more respected and valued. You will see that when you put yourself first, you will have a balanced mental and physical health to better deal with others.
Shadow work helps us know ourselves and others better. It is empowering, relaxing, motivating. It can help us manage our anger, depression, anxiety, and stress. It can help us heal our traumatic experiences and deeper wounds.
Be sure to join me for my Healing the Healer course where I’ll be teaching you all about shadow work and giving you some powerful tools to take care of yourself so you can better serve your tribe. I look forward to meeting you!