Shadow Work: How to Love All of Yourself

Everyone has some parts of themselves they don’t like. Many people might be quick to name something physical, like their weight, hair, or nose. But others may name something like procrastination or cowardice as their vices.

Shadow work is the mental exploration, meditation of, and reconciliation of the darker or uglier sides of yourself. It can help you find those parts of yourself and come to terms with it so you can let go of old wounds and move on healthier, cleaner, and more satisfied.

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A little breath of spring on this super cold day.

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It’s not an easy process and it’s not really witchcraft or magic related. In fact, shadow work originates from Jungian psychology and was adopted into new age circles. It’s taken a life of it’s own now but it started there, officially. The concept, however, has been around forever.

Many people want to overcome and change themselves and you can totally do that but first you need to acknowledge the problem. Not just the symptoms but the root causes of the problems. If that doesn’t happen then you’re only treating the symptoms rather than the actual disease, so to speak.

So how do you do shadow work? I’ve talked a bit about my own personal method of mental shadow work but the easiest way is to write a letter to yourself. Write a truly honest (and probably bitter) letter to yourself. Or maybe to someone you need to let go of. It will be very ugly to look and and even harder to read. I’ve done this before and it’s… unpleasant. But healing. Like ripping open an infected but nearly closed wound. Painful but necessary to heal properly.

Another method is to meditate. I have some posts on meditation coming out later this month but for now here’s a quick meditation for shadow work.

Imagine yourself in a garden. It’s green, lush, and pleasant. You’re sitting on a soft blanket spread over tender grass. There are tall trees above you creating  a lush canopy. It’s late afternoon and distantly you can hear insects and birds but not near enough to disrupt you. You are utterly alone and utterly at peace. The wind rustles but you’re comfortable, pleased, content. Now go ahead and start your shadow work.

Shadow work can be done like this:

Look inward at yourself and examine your thoughts. Don’t try to force them yet. Just see where your thoughts are going. Now think of something you want to let go of or face. It may start as a simple procrastination exercise. Follow those thoughts like a mind map. You might even want to talk yourself through the whole process to trigger something. You may learn, through this mental talking to yourself, that your procrastination stems from social anxiety and that comes from childhood bullying. You may not be able to get over the trauma or anxiety but you can now work with that information. You can decide what to do now.

As said, shadow work is less a witchcraft thing and more of a personal thing. But it’s very useful in figuring yourself out and learning how to love everything about yourself.