Shadow work and creative visualization

Terms that sound quite very ominous, indeed.
The shadow, however, is just another aspect of ourselves. It’s the ever-elusive blindspot in our unconscious that we carry around with us, and sometimes it forces us to behave in ways that we are not proud of later.

Our shadows are the parts of ourselves that remember when we’ve been hurt, sad, afraid or in despair.

Somedays I forget that I have my shadow lurking around. (And I’m not gonna lie. I like to push that baby waaaaay down and pretend it’s not there. I mean, honestly – who wants to deal with the darker aspects of ourselves? It’s way easier to pretend that everything is perfect and positive and wonderful. Right? Um. Sort of. Until it isn’t.)

I’m a fan of positive thinking.

Positive thinking. And reframing. And manifesting the best things we can into our lives. But I am also aware that I can do a much better job of those positive things when I have honestly dealt with the things in my life that are bothering me. When I can let go of of the not-so-pretty side of my emotions, I can really dig into being positive. Really positive. With no strings attached.

After all, it’s a normal part of the human experience to deal with positive and negative feelings.  Sometimes we bury these feelings into our shadow (or our sub-conscious) as coping mechanisms, instead of working through them.

By opening up to your shadow, you can throw open the windows and pull back the blinds, and allow light into those boxed up areas of your spirit. Embracing the shadow means embracing the unloved, the rejected and the misunderstood aspects of you. The simple act of learning to accept and love your shadow brings it to the surface and changes it. Integrating your shadow aspects can be wonderfully healing! I find shadow work helps me to understand why I act the way I do, and gives me a springboard to positively change areas in my life.

That said, shadow work can be difficult because it means looking into the parts of ourselves that are the most afraid, in the most pain, and that are least happy about being poked at.


Carl Jung called the shadow aspect the part of the unconscious personality that the ego or the conscious mind does not identify or recognize. It has been pushed down into the basements of our mind, so that we can forget about it. We all have aspects of ourselves that we push into the shadow. And it’s not all negative. There can be some positive stuff in there that will do wonders by recognizing it and embracing it. Sometimes, we feel jealousy about something or we begin to idolize another person because we recognize a positive aspect of the shadow self that has been suppressed. We see the mirror of what we could be reflected back at us, and without integrating that shadow, it remains distinct and elusive from our current state of being.

Jung also believed that the shadow aspect was the root of creativity. So for the creative brain it’s a good Spring cleaning to do. Opening up aspects of the shadow can help spill forth creative juices!

So how do you recognize your shadow?

You know those moments when you feel irrational, and then you’re not really sure why you acted or felt the way you did?
Most likely the pull and push of the shadow.

That time when you were really bothered by something and no one else seemed to be?
The shadow messing up with your projection of the world.

How do you begin shadow work?

The feelings and emotions attached to the shadow can be really abstract, so most shadow work involves bringing that subconscious aspect of ourselves to the surface by personifying it. Here’s a few ways that I go about cleaning out the cobwebs of my mind and spirit.

1) Inner child visualization.
Go down into a beautifully decorated, cozy basement and find your inner child playing there.
Love them, embrace them. Find out what’s bothering them.
Ask them what they have to teach you.
You’ll be amazed what they have to say!

2) Dream work
The shadow will often appear in dreams, and often as a person who is the same sex as the dreamer. A little bit of intention directed at meeting your shadow (a few nights in a row before falling asleep) can bring the shadow self into your dreams so that you can have a chit chat.

If you are new to dream work, this is where I would start:
During the day, carry a rock or wear a new bracelet or something for a few days. Every time you feel the rock in your pocket, (or touch the new bracelet) remind yourself that you are going to have a dream in the evening where you are going to meet your unconscious shadow. You can add anything to that mantra, to make it more specific. “I am going to have a dream where my shadow will speak to me about love” etc. etc. Getting too complicated may make it harder to call the dream you want. Usually a simple conversation is the way to go.

3) Observe the Shadow
If all of this makes you feel uncomfortable- and it may – shadow selves are not always easy to meet, there is another visualization method where you just observe your shadow from above.

The bird’s eye view allows you the ability to see the shadow’s actions or facial expressions without getting quite so close. 🙂 Some people prefer starting out here!

Other ways that do not personify the shadow, but that I find extremely helpful:

4) Call on a Great Healer
A good long chat with an intuitive healer can do wonders to draw out the shadow stuff that’s bogging us down.

5) Grab a journal and go to town
Some people open up to their shadow by simple writing about what they really feel, no holds barred.
Got an issue? WRITE ABOUT IT!
{and not what you think you should be writing, but what you really deeply feel.}

Reading it back to yourself when you are in a happy place may point out areas that were irrational, or that were over the top defensive, etc. Those places when you flew a little off the handle? That’s the place you want to dig around in a little more.

Some people believe that shadow selves can also carry around burdens and emotions from past lives or from genetic memory. Whether you believe your subconscious is connected to this life, past lives or ancestral DNA – Shadow work can be extremely enlightening, lovely and refreshing. It’s like playing deep down in the mud, and then emerging anew like you’ve been at the mud spa.

I hope these methods work for you too! (Please let me know if they do. I’d love to connect, shadows and all.)

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