And why should I do it?
It’s an age old truth that when you meet someone that instantly annoys you its because you re seeing yourself in them. Often, the parts of other people that we find the most irritating are the parts of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t want to admit to. Shadow Work is learning to see those parts of yourself. Bringing them into the light of day. Embracing them and welcoming them. Sometimes to let them heal and slip away quietly, other times to claim them openly and live them as part of being authentically us.
While that may sound simple, Shadow Work is one of the most difficult things you can ever undertake, it requires you to be 100% brutally honest with yourself. It’s easy to cry about hurts done to us by others and then to forgive them and move on. Its much harder to admit to ourselves where we have hurt others and forgive ourselves. Shadow work is about finding those things, dragging them into the light and instead of passively letting them affect us, we choose how we will use them from that point onward.
When we embrace the parts of ourselves that we have kept hidden, not only do we become more whole, but we make room in our life for new growth. Uncovering our shadows can help us uncover gifts and talents that we never knew we had. Or that we had kept buried for years for fear of ridicule. Embracing the shadows within helps us to embrace the Divine love and inspiration that surrounds us every day.
When you reach into your shadows you are reaching into your unconscious mind for things that are lost in memory. Things not just from this life, but also from past lives. That unconscious mind is a doorway that can be opened to all of the possibilities that we have the potential to become if we only face down those things within us that we allow to hold us back.
Very few of us were blessed enough to grow up in a home where we were loved and encouraged. Where self expression was never stifled and teasing and bullying never occurred. So, as we grew we learned to change our behavior to gain acceptance from those around us. We learned to hide our feelings, to not cry when we wanted to, to never show weakness. If we were teased for liking things that others did not like, we learned to hide those desires. To make friends we learned to like what our peers liked.
When we work with our shadows we uncover all those fears, hurts and desires and embrace them again. We reach out to that inner child that is hiding in the corner and we show them that its ok to run and play. We give our inner child the love and acceptance that we longed for when growing up.
Shadow work is a long, often never ending process of accepting and loving ourselves. It is one of the most healing things we can do in the long term. In the short term it can be painful and require a lot of boxes of tissues!
In this series we will use the tarot to help us look within. Often the cards will help us answer the questions we are too scared to answer for ourselves. I like to have a deck of cards I use only for Shadow Work, however that isn’t essential. Any Oracle or Tarot deck that you have a good relationship with can help and guide you.