The name of this particular type of personal work is apt, for shadow work is often dark and unpleasant. However, shadow work should be a particularly important part of everybody’s life. It allows us to shine light on the darker places within us that are quite possibly eating away at our souls.
Many people find that they often deal with negative emotions like resentment, jealousy, shame, and insecurity. Improperly expressed, these emotions can be quite destructive and can impair personal relationships and growth. These kinds of problems usually indicate that a person is struggling with their shadow self.
Whatever the case, there’s little doubt that these feelings can lead someone down the path of addiction. In this article we’re going to talk about how important it is to deal with shadow work for those hoping to overcome an addiction.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is a term used to describe a particular introspective, therapeutic practice that encourages a person to look deep within themselves to isolate, identify and eliminate their ‘shadows.’
A person’s shadows are basically all of their ‘negative’ attributes. Shadows can be certain patterns of behavior, deep-seated emotional issues, and negative thought patterns that hinder a person from enjoying their life to the fullest. Most people develop their primary shadows early in life as a result of the way that they were raised.
Shadow Work and Addiction
Shadow work is an important part of dealing with addiction.
Most people’s addictions begin as a result of some underlying behavioral problem. Research has shown that the majority of people with addictions suffer from either some sort of mental health problem or some traumatic childhood history.
Sure, it’s possible to stop using drugs or stop a particular behavior without shadow work. However, taking that approach always leaves open the possibility of relapse. Without shadow work, an addict won’t be able to truly understand the source of their problem and will thus be at risk for falling into the same patterns of behavior.
It is possible to do your own shadow work, but one of the reasons that a coach is important is because shadow work requires a huge degree of honesty with yourself. A good coach will be relatable and compassionate and will patiently guide you through this challenging process. He or she will be able to help you figure out why you acted a certain way and will help you find ways to replace that behavior with a more positive attribute.
For example, shadow work might require that you identify the source of your addiction. This might require you to admit to yourself that you are insecure, embarrassed, ashamed, or otherwise traumatized. You might have to admit that, by beginning to use drugs or acting out sexually, you weren’t loving yourself as much as you could have been.
At first, these realizations will be painful. The shadows don’t respond well to being recognized. There may be tears, anger, sadness, and even resentment towards yourself and others. However, take solace in the fact that recognizing these issues is the first step towards healing yourself.
After identifying the source behavior – insecurity, for example – then you can identify where this behavior came from. If you feel that you became insecure as a result of being bullied in high school, for example, then you may have pinpointed the starting point of your problem.
To fully shine light on the shadow and move toward healing, a coach can help you forgive not only yourself, but those who hurt you.
Shadow work, while uncomfortable and possibly even painful in the moment, is extremely important if lasting recovery from addiction is to be achieved.
If you are ready to face your shadows, please contact my office today at (805) 644-0461 or by using the contact form here. Let me walk through this with you, and together we can find healing.