I heard the terms shadow work and inner child late in life and even then I didn’t take much notice of them. Little did I know that much later on in my life not only would I start to take notice of them but that they would form a big part of building up my self-esteem. In this post, I will explain what shadow work is, why it’s important, and how to do shadow work.
There’s a lot of information out there about this subject with references to psychologist’s work (like Jung), shadow archetypes, and spirituality.
I’m going to be very blunt here, I’m not interested in any of that.
My focus is on giving you or making you aware of information with the aim of guiding you to build up your self-esteem or self-worth. To be strong mentally so that you can make better choices and live the life that you truly want.
I’m going to keep it short and snappy because I want to convey the importance of it without drowning you in lots of information that will not help you.
With that in mind, let’s get going.
READING TIME: 7 Mins. Or JUMP AND SKIM:
In essence, shadow work is getting to know your dark side or shadow side.
What Is The Shadow?
The shadow in shadow work is the part of you that is unknown to you unless you have done shadow work to uncover it.
Where Is My Shadow?
Unconscious mind and subconscious mind are used interchangeably. Are they the same thing? Yes and no. It depends on context.
However, again I don’t want to waste time on that because unless you are studying psychology or you are writing a paper on the differences or whatever, it is not important here. And let’s face it no-one knows 100%, without a shadow of a doubt (pun intended) all about the mind, hence the differing opinions scattered here there and everywhere.
For simplicity, I will use the subconscious mind when referring to the part of us that is mostly hidden.
I’m sure that you are aware of your conscious mind as you are using it now to read this post. But to reiterate, your conscious mind is responsible for your mental processing in your current awareness.
The subconscious mind deals with a different type of processing.
It is responsible for your heart beating, blood flowing, breathing and your motor skills, e.g. putting one foot in front of the other.
That in itself is a big responsibility and we don’t even think about doing those things, we just do them or should I say the subconscious mind does them for us, automatically.
The other huge responsibility it has is storing ALL our data, like a big super computer. It stores all your thoughts and beliefs. It has picked-up ALL and everything from the moment you were born. Like a sponge, it has absorbed all the programming you have ever received, regardless of whether it is beneficial or not.
And this is where your shadow is. The part of your personality that is hidden just under (sub) your conscious mind.
Is It Important To Do Shadow Work?
Yes, if you are struggling with:
- Low self-esteem
- Low self-worth
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Judging yourself and others
- Forgiving yourself and others
- Being happy and enjoying life
- Making long-lasting changes
Or put it another way, if you are not living the life you want because of negative self-talk, negative thoughts and making choices that do not benefit you.
Why Is Shadow Work Important?
If you are not aware of your shadow, it may take over your life and the consequences are the things I mentioned in the bullet list above.
What Does Inner Child Mean?
Also called wounded inner child, the wounded self – it’s all the same thing. It’s a word used in therapy or in trauma work and in healing modalities. Doing inner child work is also used interchangeably with shadow work. The inner child refers to the child inside us that may have repressed emotions and feelings to protect itself. Possibly holding feelings of abandonment and rejection. If you want to call that part of yourself “inner child” – the part you are working on to resolve your underlying issues – got for it.
Does it matter? No.
Working on your shadow self, your inner child or your subconscious mind. It does not matter what you call it.
What matters is doing the work on yourself, using words you are comfortable with.
How To Do Shadow Work
Struggling with negative thoughts and not being able to change is a guarantee that you have old programs still running in your subconscious that are affecting you now in a limiting and non-beneficial way.
Most people are not even aware that they have these programs running in the background to their life. If you’ve ever tried to change something in your life and succeeded only to go back as if you hadn’t changed anything, then this is the subconscious programming.
You are working from your subconscious mind 95% of your day.
You need to discover these programs. Once you know what the old programs are saying, you can then replace them with new (beneficial) programs.
You will then be working from new programs that support what you want to achieve in your life. Then, change is inevitable and you begin to live the life you want.
How Do You Discover The Old Programs?
Your life is giving you clues – some more obvious than others. For example, if you cannot say no to people when you want to and you end up doing things for people and never have time for yourself, you probably don’t value yourself. You may have a belief that you do not deserve to have time for yourself and that other people are more important than you. Maybe you believe that you are selfish if you want time to yourself.
This clue may indicate that you hold these negative and non-beneficial beliefs: “I am not worthy.” “I do not deserve to be happy.” “I am a selfish person.” And you possibly have low self-worth.
That is just one example out the myriads of possible negative beliefs a person could hold.
But I’ll give one more.
You keep smoking and you don’t want to. You stop for a bit and then go back to it. It could be a self-worth issue, it could be a low self-esteem issue.
But what is the belief?
You could possibly hold one or more of these beliefs: “Once a smoker always a smoker.” “I cannot stop smoking.” “I don’t deserve to be smoke-free and happy.” “It is impossible to stop smoking.”
Anything you are struggling with will point to a negative belief held in your subconscious mind.
There could be less obvious ones but from experience, this work is like peeling back the layers of an onion. You work on the obvious stuff first. Your life changes positively.
But shadow work is consistent throughout your life, you may go a while with no hiccups and then something happens and you may need to work on it. That’s okay:- now you know what to do and do it.
How Do You Replace The Old Programs?
Create new affirmations (programs) and then reprogram your subconscious mind with them. The subconscious mind learns through repetition and so you must keep programming it until it learns your new program successfully.
Some Important Things To Remember
You subconscious mind is NOT your enemy, it is just doing its job.
Make friends with it and be kind to it, it is part of you.
Accept whatever shadows you find without judging them or yourself or anyone else.
Forgive everyone, including yourself.
The subconscious mind learns through repetition.
The subconscious mind does not recognize negatives. E.g. Do not say to it “I don’t want to smoke” as it will hear “I want to smoke”. Instead, say, “I want to be smoke-free.”
It also understands the present tense e.g. Use “I am smoke free.” And not, “I am going to be smoke free.”
We are constantly being shown about the shadow self and shadow work in stories, with books, movies, and TV. It is literally everywhere e.g. Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde and Star Wars being the very obvious storylines.
There are plenty of books, courses, and people on the internet and elsewhere that can give you tools and techniques to work on your shadow self. OR you can check out the course I created on Udemy last year called Change Your Mind TO Change Your Life where are talk about how to change your limiting beliefs.
You can change your mind to change your life, believe it!
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