Shadow Psychology | How to do Shadow Work?

Shadow psychology defines the dark side of our personality. It consists of primitive and negative thoughts or feelings like jealousy, greed, confusion, sadness, etc. Whether we perceive ourselves as loser, failures, evil, or undesirable, we become a part of our shadow. The personal shadow does not have inherent positive qualities; rather, it is a disowned self. We can not get rid of our shadows. It stays like the dark people who surround us.

According to Jungian Psychology Shadow Definitions, the shadow can be defined in two different parts.

  1. It contains everything in the unconscious mind, like good or bad, and
  2. The shadow can only include the part of the personality we don’t want to expose, but it still possesses our unconscious mind.

The unconscious shadow hurts our relationship with our spouse, family, and peers, impacting our professional relationships and management skills.

What is the shadow’s behavior?

Shadow is the unknown or dark side of one’s personality or behavior. Shadow behavior builds up in a person with their subconscious or unconscious mind. When this type of behavior grows up in someone, their conscious mind doesn’t know about this. Shadow behavior is a form of self-examination, and it is a contemplative practice. This behavior can lead to a situation that can give the person the fullness of life. This subconscious behavior has authenticity, creativity, and self-enjoyment, which can’t be seen in the conscious mind.

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How is shadow formed?

The shadow forms naturally in all young children when we get disapproval from our parents and other guidance. The main shadow storehouse began from a child’s surrounding environment. From the beginning of their life, people have kindness, generosity, and love. Also, they possess anger, selflessness, greed, etc.

All emotions are shared by humanity, which changes according to growing up. For example, good is well accepted, while bad is rejected. We all have basic needs like psychological and biological needs, safety, security, etc., for our belongings.

When we expose certain parts of ourselves, we receive negative cues from the environment if we don’t act according to social rules. For example, a student can be shamed for lack of decorum in front of the classroom. Also, parents can be caused to grow shadows.

Freudian shadow of thoughts

The beginning of shadow psychology started through Sigmund Freud’s topographic theory. He describes the shadow self as the aspect of our unconscious which we try to suppress. It indicates the opposite of our persona (a famous face that we wish to show to the world). He described this theory into three parts of consciousness:

  1. Consciousness: This is part of our present awareness.
  2. Preconscious: The preconscious mind contains all the memories we can recall easily, but at present, it is not in our awareness.
  3. Unconscious: The unconscious mind is hidden, and it is difficult to recall or impossible to be aware of.

Robert Bly, a poet, and writer, said in A Little Book of the Human Shadow,” The children put all undesirable things into an unseen basket and drag it behind them. These unwanted things define personal shadows in psychologist Carl Jung’s shadow workbook Psychology and Alchemy.

How shadow psychology comes into the light:

Shadow psychology is a leading psychological field. It’s a basic and noticeable form of psychological problem. Carl Jung was one of the renowned psychologists, and he was also one of the psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and founders of psychology. He did his best in this field. He had developed many theories on this subconscious behavior. Along with other fellows like Freud, he discovered why humans think and feel that way. He also found how this behavior grows in humans and affects the unconscious mind.

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What is shadow work?

People who seek therapy to resolve their issues may not know what creates the problem. Moreover, Psychologists or psychotherapists diagnose the topics to find the shadows, which helps them complete the shadow work.

The term “shadow work” is a therapeutic process in which the therapist uses various techniques to reveal what lies within the shadow. When people cannot control their shadows, they expose the projection process.

Top 5 benefits of shadow works:

  1. Improves the relationships: When people see their shadow side, they can be clearer about their ground, human and whole. It helps to recognize the dark side which possesses you. As a result, it improves relationships with family, friends, peers, spouses, and business associates.
  2. More explicate perception: When you can see your and others’ “shadow self,” you can perceive what possesses the world. When someone can assess the surrounding environment, they can be self-aware realistically.
  3. Enhanced Energy and Physical Health: Mental problem creates social and physical disease. According to the Jungian shadow work, we unconsciously use huge energy reservoirs to protect ourselves from environmental threats. If we can get clear knowledge of shadow work about self, we will strengthen our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
  4.  Psychological Integration and Maturity: If we ignore our shadow self and repress certain parts of self, our sense of completeness or unity becomes vague. When we can integrate our shadows, we become one step closer to getting the concepts of wholeness. It is important to get mature into adulthood.
  5. Greater Creativity: One of Jungian shadow work‘s best benefits is it helps unlock your creative potential. Psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers also emphasized the dark side of personality in integrating mental health.

Moreover, shadow work can relieve psychological and physical suffering by increasing personal authenticity, energy, etc.

Shadow workbooks

I searched for a couple of hours over the internet to get a worksheet, shadow work journal, or Carl Jung’s individuation in pdf format. I got a few resources but am genuinely confused about their validation. If you want more information on shadow work’s theory, practice, or origins, you can check the below-mentioned amazing shadow workbooks. You can also check dummies books on shadow psychology.

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

People’s thinking about dark side personality:

Normally, we think unconscious or subconscious is the negative side of our behavior. But Jung believed this type of behavior has both negative and positive sides. It can include the positive side of the mind, such as in the depressed person.

For example, if someone suffers from depression, they can’t connect with their behavior’s positive or good qualities. These good things will be absent in their subconscious mind. Jung also found that every man carries this type of shadow behavior but not clear in everyone’s behavior.

The shadow and personality archetypes of Carl Jung

Jung showed that humans are used to hiding the negative side of their personality from others, like their faults, flaws, or maladaptive tendencies. Humans do this because they want to see themselves as honorable and more affordable than others in the community. Humans tend to ignore or reject the negative side of their behavior.

Jung mentioned a thing as ‘archetype.’ which is the shadow behavior in the language or literature. The archetype is also a collective behavior of the unconscious mind. This grows in the unconscious mind but gradually enters the conscious mind in thoughts, feelings, and other behavior forms.

He developed this theory to help clients understand and normalize some of their negative associations by explaining that we all experience times when our unconscious mind tries to infiltrate our conscious mind.

Carl Jung has a great contribution to shadow theory. He is well known for shadow and personality archetypes. He defines archetypes as a symbol or idea that persists in one work or many other works. Archetypes are common for all humans as a system of readiness and origins from the collective unconscious.

So, Is the Shadow Positive or Negative? Carl Jung explained, “you may think the shadow is negative space full of unwanted things. Basically, it contains the urges and motivations of our conscious mind which we don’t want.”

Jungian psychology proposed Five important things which can make it easier to know shadow life meaning:
  • Center Yourself: You should center yourself on judgmental, critical, and confusing matters to be calm, clear, or neutral in every aspect of your shadow life.
  • Cultivate Self-Compassion: this is the first step to knowing your shadow, called “Maitri” in Buddhism. It is important to nurture a sense of unconditional positive regard for self and others’ shadow.
  • Cultivate Self-Awareness: It is important to be self-aware and self-reflective about the shadow self. For example, observation of self-behavior, perceptions, thought processes, and emotions. You can practice mindfulness, yoga, and regular physical exercise to eliminate your shadow self.
  • Use NVC (Non-violent Communication): We always make connections and communication between our cognition (thinking, perception, feeling, etc.) and the surrounding environment. NVC can help us get a powerful meaning about ourselves and others. Also, it helps to share our personal feeling and thinking assertively to strengthen our relationship with others.
  • Be honest: Honesty is the first integration of shadow work. Honesty means being eager to discover unpleasant personality traits, behaviors, attitudes, dark thoughts, feelings, etc. When we are honest, we can unlock our creativity by increasing the possibilities of our psychological strength.

Jungian shadow test is also a popular concept in psychology where objective methods are used to diagnose, investigate, or evaluate the reflective errors of perception, thinking, feeling, or behavior. This is a simple shadow ego test conducted by projecting light into the retinal area of the eye. This test of shadow psychology is also termed pupilloscopy.

Most effective Shadow Work Exercises:

The psychologist who handles the patient with shadow psychological problems should follow Jung’s theory to treat shadow psychological problems. The psychologist can take help from the archetype therapists.

It includes many therapies and activities that can help unlock shadow behavior. In treating shadow psychological problems, sometimes we can see that this type of behavior, which a man can’t tolerate as his behavior, is projected onto another person. The patient sees them happy because they don’t like to see this kind of personality in their nature.

The 3-2-1 Shadow Process proposed by Ken Wilber in Integral Life Practice:
  • Choose one that you want to work with. Like a person, boss, relative, etc., and which criteria you are feeling irritating, disturbing annoying, or making upset you.
  • Now think about that person and analyze the criteria that make you most upset using 3rd person language (they, it). Put in your diary all your thoughts or talk about them loudly.
  • In the 3rd step, imagine that person and dialogue with speaking 2nd person (‘You’ language). Talk like that person is in front of you. Tell that person what bothers you (use shadow work questions). For example, why are you doing this to me? What do you want to show me? What do you want to teach me? Etc. You can record your conversion in your diary.
  • In the 4th stage, you will become that person and talk about the qualities that irritate or fascinate you. You will explore your feelings regarding those matters, like I am feeling angry, I am feeling sad, or I am feeling jealous.
  • In the 5th and last stage, you will observe your disowned qualities. You will experience the part that you possess. Just be on it and avoid being abstract or conceptual.
You can also practice the four important steps mentioned below:
  1. Observe Your Emotional Responses.
  2. Associate in Inner Dialogue.
  3. Test the Good Part.
  4. Get to Distinguish the Shadow Archetypes.

“Shadow Work Exercises” are used in gestural psychology to treat mental health issues. It is an effective and demanding psychological technique for people with a mental illnesses. Counseling or psychotherapy can be helpful for shadow work. This is a systemic procedure in which psychotherapists are experts and can use their skills to remove the shadow. If you feel psychological or emotional intolerance, you should consult with a licensed and professional psychotherapist for shadow therapy. The licensed psychologist is also available in the online newhopepsychology center.

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion: Shadow psychology is a part of psychology, a major one involving the unconscious aspects of human personality and why they are meaningful. It is a form of self-examination. Shadow work is an introspective psychological practice that anyone can do and can lead to a more fulfilling life. When working with the shadow, anyone may have moments of awakening that lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom.

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