Shadow Work


I want to talk about our deepest darkest selves.  Those parts of ourself that we keep hidden and secretive; things we've done, our personalities, our insecurities, our scars.  The things we don't want anyone to see and we will protect at all costs.  Our shadows.

I’m writing this post for a few reasons.  This is not just for you but for me as well.  A chance for me to be honest about how I feel about myself, without judgement or need for validation from you that I’m actually OK. 

I want you to know that you are not alone.  That the filtered, photoshopped image of yourself that you present to the world (friends, family or public) doesn’t make you a fraud or fake but it also doesn’t change the fact that you are who you are.  

Your shadow lives in your subconscious, it’s the psychological term for everything you can’t see within yourself.  It is the dark, sad, scary, immoral side of your self, brought about by painful experiences.  The source of your pain is irrelevant because pain is pain. 

Denying your shadow self, the 'Mr. Hyde' to your 'Dr Jekyll' is to deny your wholeness. It keeps you afraid, it can turn against you and, like not to be dramatic or anything, that sometimes it can also destroy you.  

But as I am learning, there is always another way.  And I’m starting with acknowledging my shadow. 

I am owning them so they no longer own me.

My Shadow

It started with Instagram.  I noticed my feed mostly had pictures of me from behind, or in the distant.  My face would be obscured; either turned to the side, half cut off or looking away.  It’s got nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with being vulnerable, with being really seen.

See I don’t like to be seen. 

Not truly seen. 

I like to be hidden.  I show to people only what I want them to see.  It keeps me safe from being criticised or judged.  It keeps me safe from shame and regret.  It keeps me safe from being hurt by people I don’t know and by people I do.

I have secrets that I keep close to my heart because I’m afraid.  There are parts of my personality that are under lock and key because I don’t think people will understand me.  There are thoughts that seem so dark that I am ashamed that they came from my mind.

I started to think what “negative” traits generate an emotional response within me.  Outwardly I am a confident woman; driven, successful, happy, full of energy, loyal, honest and reliable.  On a surface level I know I deserve love and happiness, that I’m healthy and beautiful, that I’m fun, generous, loving and caring.

But I also unconsciously believe that I'm;

  • a Fraud

  • Unsuccessful

  • Disgusting

  • Secretive

  • Unworthy of Love

  • a Failure

  • Weak

  • Not that Special

I have the courage to accept how fucked up and ridiculous these sound but also gratitude because they are teaching me so much about myself and helping me to heal. 

I have the courage to share these because there is no shame in admitting I am not perfect nor am I meant to be.

I have the courage to name my shame because it means I will no longer self-sabotage my success because of my underlying beliefs that I refused to acknowledge.

Denying the traits that live in my shadow self, make me feel invisible as if no-one really knows or sees the real me.  It’s a very lonely place to be.  I’ve sabotaged relationships because I feel unworthy of love and I’ll push people away so they don’t get too close.  So they don’t really SEE me.  I tell myself I don’t need anybody, that I can take care of myself…even though I desperately want someone to say, “I'm listening, I see you, I’m here, I’ve got you”.  

My shadow has made me people please, terrified of causing any kind of hurt or difficulty to people I desperately love and care for.  Their happiness often became more important than my own happiness and I felt like I was suffocating and buckling under the weight of my real and imagined burdens.  I was terrified that if people knew the truth about me they would hate me, that I’d be outed as a fake and a liar.  

Whatever you don’t own within yourself will keep you settling for what’s available rather than waiting for what you are truly worth.
— Monique Barry

Highest Self and Shadow Self

I had a dream about my highest-self…because she exists too right alongside my shadow.  They were both personified.  

Highest-Self was beautiful, captivating, sensual, affectionate, loving, kind and gentle.  Shadow, on the other hand, was a loser, I was repulsed by her, she was poor and lowly, disgusting and I could see her hiding in the corner, in the dark.  I was asked to bring her to meet my highest self.

I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to be near her, I didn’t want her to taint anything she touched and definitely didn’t think she was worthy of being in the presence of my highest-self.  We walked into the room, Highest-self was waiting for us her back turned.  I sat and watched their exchange with shame and dread. 

But Highest-Self had no judgement, she walked right up to Shadow and kissed her hand without hesitation.  They didn’t embrace, instead Highest-Self swept up Shadow in a tender cradle.  Love and compassion emanating from her.  Shadow began to weep and her tears rolled down her face in a steady stream that turned into a river wrapping themselves around Highest-Self eventually embodying the both of them as if they were in the eye of a storm, making them one.

Embodying your Shadow

Whatever you don’t own within yourself will have an emotional charge.  You will be set off by these qualities in others and you will attract those kinds of people and situations to you.  They will upset, control and trigger you.  It will keep you settling for what’s available rather than waiting for what you are truly worth.

But integrating the dark and the light, the good and the bad, the strong and the weak; all parts of ourselves.

That is what makes us whole. 

Embracing our imperfections, our shame, our hidden parts of self, allows us to learn, to grow and to connect with ourselves and others on a deeper more meaningful level.  

Sometimes it’s ugly and hard but fuck, it’s liberating.

Want to do the Work?

Want to work with me?  Check out my Work With Me  page or click below to book a single session and I can show you how to uncover your hidden parts of self so you can learn how to trust, live and love more authentically.