Our past experiences can have a huge impact on how we react, especially the painful ones. These past experiences can shake & rattle our beliefs. Leaving our minds to continue responding to our current experience based on past experiences. Some self doubt is helpful, it keeps us safe & sometimes often leads to introspection & enhanced performance. However, self-doubt can also be a painful & challenging experience that can significantly impact us in a negative way.
We all have dark sides of our personality that we hide in order to stay safe, lovable, & accepted by our communities, families, & society.
It would be so nice if there were a magical formula. Like those goopy self-affirmations of Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” But believe me, it doesn’t work.
True confidence isn’t based on simplistic bromides, it’s based on dealing with the areas in which you’re the opposite of confident: insecure, ashamed, afraid everyone hates you, etc. It’s also important to realize you’re not alone: everyone is insecure. I know that’s hard to believe when you’re looking at the glossy photo of a beautiful actress or hear the confident, booming voice of an athlete (or self-help guru).
We’re all insecure because, as strange as it sounds, there’s a hidden being living inside us & we’re deeply ashamed of it. Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychiatrist, named this hidden part of us the Shadow. And you can no more get rid of it than you can the outer shadow you cast when you’re in the sunlight.
OK, so how can I get rid of my Shadow? That’s the problem is you can’t. no matter how much love, validation, success, or money you get from the outside world, it won’t cure you of your insecurities. There’s only one solution. You must learn to love your Shadow. Think about it: if you could love & accept the parts of you you’re most embarrassed of, then you won’t be afraid of anyone else judging it. You & your Shadow will move through the world—shoulder to shoulder—without fear. Imagine how great that would feel!
No matter how many inspiring quotes pop up on your Instagram feed or how many self-care rituals you squeeze in, the self-love struggle is often real. One way to really level up your feel-good vibes, though, is by cutting through the superficial layers & getting to the root of the issue through a practice called shadow work.
We all have a shadow side, & it holds the power to negatively impact every area of our life, including professional, personal, & our very sense of self. Most crucially, though, our shadow can keep us from living a whole, authentic life. Unfortunately, many of us do not know what is in our shadow & these disowned parts may still be driving the show in creating our reality. That’s why understanding how to use shadow work to heal the shadows & integrate that part of your being into your life is key. But, like with any self-development work, this process won’t necessarily be a breeze. It’s called shadow work for a reason, after all, but since the work is in the name of self-love, it’s almost certain to pay off.
The shadow self does not know whether it’s sabotaging us or not because it is hidden within our subconscious. That’s why it’s so important to bring the shadow to the surface, to perform the necessary inner work to create a dialogue between you and your “dark side” to create positive change.
The first step in healing your shadow side is uncovering what traits it includes. We often project our shadows onto other people, so one way to find yours is by observing what aspects or traits you judge in other people. For example, do you judge others when they’re lazy, cheap, or inconsiderate? Chances are, part of you fears that you embody those characteristics, too. Perhaps a childhood conditioning??
You’ll know you’ve identified a shadow when just saying it or writing it down catalyzes a full-body response. You may find that you have many shadows & that’s normal. Keep a list handy & focus on healing one at a time, starting with whichever seems to have the most charge. When you shift your perception of certain shadow traits, suddenly the formerly rejected aspect of who you are becomes a source of power rather than pain.
The good news is that you can change your interpretation of your shadows to ones that support you rather than hinder you. As we open ourselves to these traits & choose to see the good experiences of life, love, ourselves completely changes.
Ultimately, when you do shadow-work, you are doing the work of radical self-acceptance. You are reclaiming the lost fragments of yourself, hidden in your shadow & reintegrating them into your life.