One thing that is not talked about enough is healing and shadow work.
When I was going through some of the darkest times in my life so far, shadow work was what helped me pull myself out of it and heal.
But with lots of different information online, it can be confusing as to what you should be doing.
That’s why I wrote down all the things that have helped me heal, personally, so that you can use that as a guide for your own healing!
Confront your painful memories
One of the first steps for shadow work is confronting memories that you may have buried.
If you are in a dark place in your life, it is likely that you are triggered by past trauma and are simply not dealing with it.
It can be helpful to sit down and write down all the major painful things that have happened in your life.
Let go of the need to assign blame or find someone responsible for what happened.
Instead, let it all out. When you have journaled all your painful memories, you will likely feel very overwhelmed.
This is normal. Your brain is trying to signal that these events are still very much present and need to be confronted and dealt with.
The thing is, when you ignore the things that happened to you, they tend to come back and haunt you later on.
When you are able to confront your past and deal with the issues that have caused you pain, it is so much easier to move on from them.
I know this because I have done this before. My first step was confronting my abusive childhood and all the things that made me feel like I had no control over my life.
After confronting my past, it was so much easier for me to let go of the things that were holding me back in life and move on from them.
Commit to daily self care
One of the things I found so helpful with my own healing was committing to daily self-care practices.
These can be things like:
This can be something as simple as sitting and breathing. Take some time each day to be in silence and allow yourself to let go of the thoughts in your head.
This is especially helpful if you are in a dark place and your thoughts are running wild.
I will dive deeper into meditation in a moment.
Writing can be a great way to process thoughts and emotions you may be feeling. Plus, it can be a great way to process trauma and let go of these painful memories.
But I will talk about this a bit more in a second.
Letting yourself cry can be incredibly beneficial for your healing and health.
A lot of people are afraid to cry or feel like they should be able to control their emotions better. Instead, let yourself cry, let out your emotions, and let them go.
Creating self-care rituals can help give you a sense of comfort. Rituals can be something as simple as lighting a candle, putting on a favorite song, or even taking a bath.
When you commit to self-care on a daily basis, you are teaching your body that it is safe with you and that you will take good care of it.
Explore the shadow during meditation/breathwork
Meditation is something that has helped me so much with shadow work.
When you are in meditation, you are in a state of mind that is easy to access the shadow.
The things to explore with your shadow are:
As discussed above, journaling and then meditating on these memories can help confront them and let them go.
What emotions are you feeling right now? What is going on inside of you?
What beliefs are currently running through your head?
What symbols appear as you explore your meditation?
Looking at these things during meditation can be incredibly helpful to you.
This will help you confront them, let go of them, and move forward.
Self-care practices are a great way to heal from trauma and also process your emotions as well.
These exercises can be incredibly helpful in helping you let go of these painful memories and thoughts that are still haunting you.
This will also help integrate these memories into your subconscious mind so that you can feel safe and comfortable.
Now, another thing that has helped me tremendously in my healing journey was breathwork.
You see, breathwork is a great way to confront your shadow.
It is a tool that uses the power of your breath to regulate your nervous system and heal past traumas .
The reason that breathwork works is because it is the primary way that you are able to control the nervous system.
It is something that has helped me not only with trauma, but also with anxiety and panic attacks.
So, on to my favorite breathwork exercise.
This exercise has been incredibly helpful for me and a lot of other people as well. It is a great way to explore your shadow and confront it in a safe environment.
When I first did this exercise, it felt as if a dam that I had built up in my mind finally came crashing down, but in the best possible way.
I finally was able to feel pent-up emotions that I had been struggling with for years.
I was able to feel all of the emotions that I had been trying to forget and push down.
The most important thing to keep in mind when doing this exercise is that you should not be afraid of the emotions or memories that you are confronting during breathwork.
That is why it is so important to confront them. They are there for a reason, and they are meant to help you heal from your past and move forward into your future.
If you are curious, you can try this free breathwork video.
When I did, it quite literally changed my whole outlook on life and healing.
Writing down your thoughts and emotions can be incredibly helpful during times of distress.
Journaling can be done in many different ways.
You can write in a physical journal, type out your thoughts on a computer, or even use an app.
You can also journal about what you are grateful for, your fears, and other things that are going on in your life.
Journaling does not need to be strictly emotional or a negative thing. It can be as diverse and creative as you want it to be.
You see, you can use your journal as an outlet for anything that might be going through your head!
Don’t be afraid to call in helpers
This one might sound a little odd, but sometimes, you need to ask for help.
Whether this is from a friend you can cry with, a therapist to help process all of your emotions and childhood trauma or an online support group, sometimes, you just need help dealing with your pain.
There is no shame in admitting that you need help. You don’t have to be a hero who can handle it all on your own.
It is simply not possible, and you are actually doing yourself a disservice by trying to do so.
Trust me, you are better off asking someone for help than to try and deal with it alone.
Connect with your inner child and nurture them
As you go through the process of working on your shadow, you may find that you have a lot of childhood emotions and feelings inside of you.
One way to deal with these is to connect with your inner child, who is the core of who you are as a person.
Your inner child is the essence of you before all of the trauma, heartache, and pain of life happened.
Instead of trying to push these feelings and emotions away, try to connect with them and let them out.
Ask yourself what your child needs and wants. What would they want you to know and do?
There are inner-child meditations that help you to connect with your inner child and nurture them.
Those are definitely an excellent way to do this.
This is not a quick fix, but it will help you to heal and become the best version of yourself that you can be.
There is no way around the fact that doing this work will take time and effort, but it is well worth it in the end.
Plus, you can do things you loved doing as a child, like painting, dancing, singing, etc.
These will really help you to de-stress and get back into your child self.
All of these emotions and feelings want to come out. They want to be let go of, but you have to be the one who’s brave enough to do it.
This is a huge step in the process, and it will take some time, so be patient with yourself!
Sit with your emotions instead of distracting yourself from them
One thing that I see happen a lot with people in unhealthy relationships with themselves, is that they distract themselves from their emotions.
For example, if you are at a point in life where nothing seems to work, you might be feeling sad, angry, and frustrated.
However, you might try and suppress these emotions, because you are afraid of what will happen if you let them out.
This is not a healthy way to deal with your emotions. Instead, try to sit with your emotions.
Let them be there. Don’t push them away or try to drown them out with other things. Explore what they feel like in your body.
Journal about them. Let them out rather than keep them locked away and repressed.
The thing is, there is no such thing as “bad” emotions. It is all a part of the human experience.
When you repress your emotions, you are keeping them from coming out.
The reason why people do this is because they are afraid that if they let their emotions out, it will cause them to feel even more negative emotions.
However, this is not true. You will feel better when you let your emotions out and work through them instead of pushing them away.
Identify your limiting beliefs
As you work on your shadow and explore what is going on inside of you, you might find some core limiting beliefs.
These beliefs are things we were told as children, or they are things that we have come up with on our own.
They can be both positive and negative.
These limiting beliefs can be things like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not smart enough,” “People will leave me,” “People are dangerous,” etc.
These beliefs can be incredibly destructive, and they can contribute to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
As you explore your shadow work, you may find that you have these beliefs running through your head.
You might find that they are contributing to your mental health issues. Once you have identified your limiting beliefs, you can start to work on letting them go.
A great way to do that is by using affirmations, for example.
You can start by writing your limiting belief down on a piece of paper.
Then you can write underneath it, “I am good enough.”
You can do this over and over again. You can say this to yourself every day until it becomes a reality.
Watch the symbolism of your emotions and what the root cause of your symptoms might be
When you are in a dark place, you might notice that you start to feel a certain type of emotion.
You might feel lots of guilt, shame, sadness, or anger.
When you notice the type of emotion you are feeling, try to explore why you are feeling that way.
One way to do this is through the use of Jungian psychology.
This is the idea that you can explore the types of emotions you are feeling and what they might mean.
This can be incredibly helpful in understanding the root cause of your symptoms, and it can help you work towards healing.
You see, when your main symptom is social anxiety, then it’s exactly that – a symptom.
It means that there is something a bit deeper that is causing you to feel anxious when you are around other people – and that is the root cause.
When you can get to the root of your symptoms, then you can start to heal.
You see, if there is a bad relationship between your shadow and your ego, then it will be difficult for you to get out of that situation.
The ego will be trying to protect the shadow and keep it at bay.
This is where the work of the shadow starts, because when the ego can’t handle all of these emotions coming at them all at once, they will try to hide from them or push them away.
The feelings will start coming in waves – one after another after another – as your ego tries its best to deal with this emotion that was too much for them.
This is why it’s so important for you to have a safe environment in which you are able to explore these emotions and work through them.
The process takes time and patience, but it can help tremendously!
Find ways to transmute your emotions
One of the best ways to work through your emotions is to transmute them.
Transmuting is the process of using creative outlets such as art, dance, music, etc., to transform your emotions into something positive.
One example of this is identifying what emotion you are feeling, and then creating something that represents that emotion.
For example, if you are feeling a lot of sadness, you could draw a picture of something that makes you sad.
Once you have created this work of art, you can then tear it up and let the emotions flow out of you.
Another way to transmute your emotions is to use exercise.
It’s an amazing way to really channel all those difficult emotions and make them go somewhere else.
For example, you could use exercise to get rid of all that anger you have in your body by doing something physical, such as dance or martial arts.
In these moments, you are able to turn off your ego and let the emotion out onto the world so you don’t have to carry it around with you anymore.
Shadow work is difficult and what I have told you just now is only the beginning.
It will take lots of dedication and time to really work through your shadow.
The most important thing is that you do it!
You don’t have to do it alone.
I recommend finding a therapist who can help you with this process, and I would also recommend joining a support group for people who are in the same boat as you are.
You got this! If I can do it, you can, too!