One of the hardest parts of personal growth and self-development is taking that inward work at oneself.
It is easy to look at all the unfortunate cards one has been dealt in their life as reasons for failing or reasons for their pain. But the truth is much of the story and the narrative you write for your life is that of your own. Now, of course, in writing this narrative for yourself you get a lot of input from people like friends, family, community, and society. But ultimately, the story that is written and the truths you believe are those of your own.
It is hard to look inside and deeply evaluate these narratives you create and find your own faults. It takes a lot of vulnerability to point out mistakes and imperfections, particularly in a world where you are constantly judged and under scrutiny.
This is where “shadow work” comes into play.
What is shadow work, you ask? Most simply put, shadow work is uncovering repressed thoughts, emotions, and beliefs from in your unconscious which you have hidden from yourself. There is a reason traditional addiction rehabilitation treatment has a 30% success rate compared to the 90% success rate of coupling therapy with hypnotherapy. Marrying hypnotherapy with more traditional therapy allows a deeper dive into the unconscious.
It is not something mystical, it is essentially just becoming more self-aware. In doing so, you gain self-compassion and acceptance of the parts of yourself you have suppressed through either shame, guilt, or trauma.
But you do not have to seek out a hypnotherapist to do shadow work. It is a practice you can work on yourself, from the comfort of your own home. And this blog will cover the top 5 benefits and practices of shadow work. All Florida residents can reach out to True You Always Counseling, located in Brevard County, Florida, for all their therapeutic needs.
Gain more self-confidence and self-esteem.
This is perhaps one of the best benefits to shadow work. We all have parts of ourselves we dislike. Maybe even hate to some extent. Some of these things may be insecurities while others may be problematic traits. However, it is overwhelmingly challenging to address these issues if you are trying to suppress them. If you even acknowledge them at all. Shadow work not only allows you to acknowledge them but to accept that they are part of you and thus giving you the opportunity to change them if you so choose.
Relationships are a centerpiece of a healthy life. If you lack healthy relationships and boundaries, you cannot have a healthy life. Meaningful connection is something we all require, and there is no getting around that. But the adage, “You cannot love anyone else until you learn to love yourself,” is pure fact. If you have a low perception of yourself you will attract people who do not bring you joy and happiness because you may feel you do not deserve it.
Additionally, people tend to project their views of themselves onto others. Meaning, you highlight others’ faults when they remind you of yourself because, in you, you dislike those traits. It is easier to demand someone else change rather than change ourselves, or admit we have this trait we dislike. When you are able to address these issues for yourself you can connect deeper with others.
You can improve your wellness all around.
The emotional and psychological benefits of shadow work are undeniable. But many physical and spiritual issues are tied to emotional and psychological turmoil. Which also has an impact on relational health and could impact creative health and financial health. Shadow work will allow you to not just band-aid certain struggles (such as anxiety, depression, or trauma) but to tackle the root of these issues. In doing so you can eliminate them entirely and improve your health and wellness from the top down.
Create clarity for your life.
Some of the repression you create is in an attempt to be accepted (in hopes of maintaining a connection with others). Or because you dislike something about yourself and fear not being accepted as a result. In doing shadow work you are able to live more authentically, which is also vital to having a fulfilling life. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions and able to live your life with purpose and driven towards your well-being and not in an attempt to hide parts of yourself.
Learn to trust yourself.
Part of the benefits of shadow work is to trust yourself. How often do you second-guess your decisions or fear speaking out in fear of being judged? Or feel that you are wrong and should not speak your mind or follow your gut? With shadow work, you learn to trust yourself on a deeper level.
So, now that you know some of the benefits of doing shadow work, how do you start?
The easiest way is to seek a therapist such as those at True You Always Counseling. They offer a judgment-free area for you to openly explore your inner shadow without a verdict and unconditional acceptance. But they can ask questions or point out patterns to change the way in which you view things, perhaps things that you have never noticed. But you can also begin the process all on your own. Either way, it is important to be able to spot your shadow. More specifically, noticing patterns you have or situations that trigger you and what initiates those patterns or triggers. You will also want to make note of projections you put onto others. A therapist can be great for helping you identify these things but it is possible to do it on your own.
It is also important to look back at your early years. A trained therapist can be of great benefit here because it can be quite uncomfortable thinking back to childhood for some.
If you have a history of trauma, working with a trauma therapist is recommended as they will be able to guide you through the process and prevent you from going too fast and potentially causing you more distress. It is important to explore your childhood, however, because most of your self-beliefs, ideas, and the story you write for yourself stems from here. If you were constantly told to “toughen up,” or “get over it,” even “man up,” you are given the message to suppress your emotions. If you were given the message “you are not good enough,” then you have likely adopted this message as truth.
Depending on your culture and community, these things can be seen as normal and harmless, but they can have a lasting impact on you. A trauma therapist can identify these factors and ask questions to better understand if they lead to emotional suppression for you.
It is important throughout this process to avoid shaming yourself. You have these feelings and emotions for a reason. Negative thoughts or beliefs about yourself are not born spontaneously. They are put there by others and then adopted as your truth. Have compassion for yourself and know that change is a process and can take time. Do not feel ashamed of the thoughts you have, rather be curious about them and how they became so strong. Where did they come from? Do you agree with them? In what ways are they wrong? You can also practice self-affirmations to increase your self-acceptance.
Lastly, try beginning an inner dialog.
Check in with yourself regularly. This will allow you to question negative thoughts and beliefs and recognize when, where, and why they are triggered. Ask yourself questions and see what answers you provide. Is there an internal back-and-forth? Are answers definitive and finite? How many times do you second guess your answers?
As mentioned above, shadow work is challenging and can be quite uncomfortable. But it is an important step in growth and self-development. Once you stick through the discomfort of knowing yourself, you can begin to see real change and wellness. You can find happiness and see real change.
Begin Working With A Trauma Therapist in Florida
You don’t have to struggle with past trauma, anxiety, and other mental health concerns that shadow work can address. Our team would be honored to offer support with a variety of mental health services for the residents of Florida and Texas. To start your therapy journey with True You Always, please follow these simple steps:
- Contact True You Always
- Meet with our caring therapists
- Start your journey of self-discovery and development!
Other Services Offered at True You Always
Here at True You Always, we offer many services with a wide range of therapists. We are here to walk alongside you no matter what you’re dealing with. Our goal is to provide a safe and accepting space for you to breathe and be your authentic self. You may also be interested in therapy for first responders, therapy for work stress, anxiety, and stress treatment, or PTSD treatment and trauma therapy.
Additionally, we offer therapy for teens, couples therapy, family therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, therapy for disordered eating, support for families with a loved one struggling with ED, therapy for adults, substance use disorders, therapy for spouses of first responders, play therapy, therapy for allergies, and chronic illness. All services are offered via online therapy in Florida so you can get help from the comfort of your own space.