An Overview of the Personal Shadow and Shadow Work
Inner growth, transformation & personal evolution are becoming more and more popular amongst those seeking answers about the art of living, meaning, and purpose.
Naturally, many coaches, spiritual practitioners, and teachers are now increasingly talking about these topics, with many of them providing valuable insight and guidance.
However, there’s still quite a lot of confusion, misconception and misunderstanding about the exploration of the inner world/psyche, the approach to Shadow Work, and the actual Counselling and Therapeutic way of using this deep and complex process for Self-discovery, healing, and real growth.
Unfortunately, there are many self-help gurus on various social media platforms adamantly promoting the exploration of the inner shadow as a path to self-development but some are doing it without the necessary level of competence and ability to present the topic accurately.
I see, read and listen to some of those self-proclaimed experts who are not only treating the subject at a surface level but are also misrepresenting it!
Below I list some of the most popular misconceptions about the Personal Shadow as a psychological phenomenon, as well as about Shadow Work, with the corresponding corrections:
*Misconception 1: The Personal Shadow is all bad & scary: WRONG!
Yes, much of the psychological content that is suppressed/cast away is because it’s unpleasant, challenging and hard to deal with.
To outline the main characteristics of the Shadow, without oversimplifying the definition: negative traits such as excessive selfishness, suppressed emotions & feelings of guilt and shame, destructive impulses, complexes, grudges, trauma, fear, vindictiveness, illicit sexual desires/perversions, inner wounds, rage, hatred, etc., are all Shadow content.
They represent the disowned parts of the psyche. In a nutshell, the Shadow represents “the thing a person has no wish to be” [C.G. Jung, CW16, para 470].
But in addition to that, Jung also spoke about the Shadow being the reservoir of inner wealth that can reveal the ‘gold within’. This is where the riches and the wealth of power are hidden waiting to be discovered, purged, and brought to light and conscious awareness!
*Misconception 2: The Personal Shadow is part of the Subconscious Mind: WRONG!
The personal Shadow is part of the Unconscious.
Here’s a brief description of the three main levels of the psyche, from the perspective of analytical psychology, for more clarity:
Consciousness: serves to define our thoughts, engaged awareness, decisions, actions.
Subconscious: this level contains knowledge and awareness about everything else we are cognitive of that we are not actively dealing with at a given moment. Example: When we’re cooking, we don’t think about stopping at a red light, because we’re not driving at that time, although we know/ we’re aware of how to drive and what to do on the road.
Unconscious is defined as the deepest storage of our past and memories. The personal unconscious, (a concept developed by Carl Jung, along with the collective unconscious), refers to all the data and experiences of an individual’s lifetime that have been repressed (therefore, forgotten) that continue to influence behavioral patterns. Shadow content is part of the mix too, as it operates outside of conscious awareness.
*Misconception 3: Shadow work is about denying, ignoring, and destroying the parts of our personality/identity that we dislike. We should replace them with attitudes and behavioral models that would make us likable, acceptable, and popular, thus ensuring success and happiness. WRONG!
Shadow Work is about exploring, understanding, accepting and subsequently, healing and integrating the negative/dark aspects of who we are!
That is the only way to achieve wholeness, to release the weight of negativity that hinders personal evolution!
A huge amount of energy is freed up through that process, energy that can be used and applied for further empowerment and new, productive endeavors!
Although this is just an overview, it is clear that Shadow Work is not a simple exercise that can be done easily and bring immediate results! It is a complex journey indeed, best done with support and guidance!
As a psychological astrologer and growth coach I created a methodology focused on Inner Work and Personal Shadow content as the most effective way to help my clients.
AstroPsychology integrates traditional Astrology and Jungian Archetypes, Analytical Psychology, Counseling, and a therapeutic approach to person-centered Birth Chart Analysis.
As nothing functions in isolation in Astrology, all placements in the chart and their connections must be considered for effective Shadow work.
The Moon (as significator of the personal unconscious, emotions, and the past) and Pluto and the 8th House are amongst the main astrological factors to explore for the purposes of understanding the Emotional Self, defining childhood experiences, suppressed memories, and the individual path to healing and transformation.
It is not possible to cover all about Shadow Work in just one piece of wiring (I’ll keep sharing more) but I hope this overview helps you understand the main characteristics of the subject and most importantly inspire you to start your own amazing journey of self-discovery healing and inner growth!
Again, it is not quick and simple, but it is the most rewarding experience, the greatest act of Self-love, and the path toward authentic life, inner peace, and true happiness!
I’d love to guide, support, and help you in your personal evolution journey!
Book a FREE Discovery Call here: https://calendly.com/angelikamatev/discoverycall
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
To your success & growth and with much love,
Certified AstroPsychologist & Holistic Growth Coach