Written by: Debbie Gill, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
You can't give away what you do not have. I learned this truth in AA over 20 years ago, yet I see many leaders, coaches, and professionals trying to help others do something they have not yet done themselves. Why is that?
I can think of two of many reasons but first, let's define what shadow work is.
Shadow work is an in-depth exploration of the parts of yourself that you've hidden or of which you are unconscious. There are various approaches for doing this, but the shadow must first be acknowledged. Only then can it be accepted and integrated into the psyche allowing for authenticity to occur.
How Do You Know You Are Living In The Shadow?
By observing your behavior, you can discern where your work lies. Questions to ask yourself are:
Why do I react a certain way when people do things? What is it that triggers me?
What behaviors do I judge or criticize others for doing? What am I projecting onto them?
Do I fully express my emotions, or do I keep them bottled up? Good feelings can be suppressed as well as unpleasant ones.
Do I set healthy boundaries or not? Am I a people pleaser? A perfectionist? Or both?
Am I aware of when I sabotage myself before it happens, or only afterward?
Reacting: Have you ever said or did something that you regretted and then asked yourself, "Where did that come from?" Your reaction was a shadow behavior that you were not consciously aware of or able to control.
It can cause you to make poor decisions that have a ruinous effect on your business, and you can lose clients, or you can lose your respect as a new thought leader. So, what can you do?
Become aware of and recognize your triggers.
If you don't like the outcome of your response to an event, the only thing you can change is your response. By recognizing your triggers, you discover aspects hidden in your shadow-self that need to be addressed, and you can respond differently.
Event + Response = Outcome (E+R=O), from Jack Canfield's, The Success Principles, is a model that demonstrates how you can accomplish this.
The following example is one Jack has used to describe the method he uses.
Event: You receive a $2,500 bonus.
Response: You go to the casino and lose it all.
Outcome: You're broke.
If you don't like the outcome, the only thing you can change is the response. By reflecting on the consequences of losing your $2,500 bonus and how it made you feel, you can look for a belief that may have been indoctrinated into you at an early age and don't remember.
Possible Belief: I am unworthy of any money that is given to me.
More introspection can glean evidence that supports your belief. Do you squander away any extra cash you may find, receive, or be given? How do you treat your money? With respect and honor, or do you disrespect and trash it?
Once you discover what is hidden underneath, you can accept the shadow for what it is and not something to be pushed away; you can understand the trigger and change your response.
Event: You receive a $2,500 bonus.
Response: You invest the money wisely.
Outcome: You are now more wealthy than you were.
Projecting: Projection is the unconscious action of taking unwanted emotions or traits you dislike about yourself and associating them with another person.
Projection relates to the shadow in that your shadow aspects are those parts of yourself you have an aversion to or find unacceptable but must be embraced to become whole and balanced beings.
Example: Your client is late for their session, and you project their tardiness as disrespecting you because that's what not being punctual means to you. You are projecting out onto your client your unconscious excuse for her lateness. There is a judgment associated with the projection that ignites a spark within you.
When you judge or criticize someone for being late, you are irritated by it, feeling it is impolite to make you wait. The questions you must ask yourself after examining your past behavior is, "When and how have I made others wait for me? Have I delayed my clients, causing them to be put on hold?"
Shadow projecting occurs when you judge or criticize others as greedy, jealous, arrogant, rude, or dishonest, and you overlook your connection with it. The shadow contains the aspects we own yet can't bring ourselves to acknowledge, so we project them onto others.
Shadow Work is the inner work that's an in-depth and honest reflection of the thoughts, feelings, images, and reactions we possess, finding their causal level so we can integrate them into our psyche to become authentic and balanced beings.
Shadow work will support you in your endeavor to forge your destiny by being more creative, resilient, and free of limiting beliefs; you will attain professional and financial success in your life.
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate." — Carl Jung
For more information on Shadow Work, check out my free mini-course, Say Hello to Your Shadow: Empowering Yourself Through Choices. It is a great starting point. To take a deeper dive, check out Say Hello to Your Shadow Fear Archetypes: Empower Yourself Through Choices, available for pre-sale now.
Debbie Gill, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Debbie Gill is the founder of Go Within Spiritual Coaching and Go Within Yoga. She integrates her knowledge and experience as a spiritual coach and yoga teacher with the wisdom of Caroline Myss, a Medical Intuitive and five-time New York Times bestselling author, Anodea Judith, an expert on the Chakra System, somatic therapy, and yoga, and Lion Goodman, creator of the Clear Beliefs® Process.
As a Certified Clear Beliefs® Coach, Debbie can assist you with clearing core beliefs that hold you back from becoming your true self and living your true purpose through the Clear Beliefs Process® (CBP). The CBP is a set of tools and techniques that frees you from past limitations so you can freely choose your beliefs and live an empowered and more fulfilling life.
Debbie is the author of, Struck by Lightning: My Journey from the Shadow to the Light, where she chronicles her life’s struggles with her shadow aspects and addictions. The spiritual memoir reflects her emergence from the shadow caused by traumatic wounds to the light where truth brings awareness and healing.
A grateful recovering alcoholic since June 6, 2000, she lives the 12-Steps of AA and practices its principles in her daily life, and continues her study at CMED with Myss and Judith and Goodman.