Why is shadow work important? When you don’t do shadow work you stay locked into a cycle of limiting beliefs about yourself and project that out to others. Before I knew what shadow work was, I would read quotes that said “love yourself” and I would think I love myself. I would hear people say “don’t worry what other people think” and I would think I don’t care what others think. I would see people being rude to other people and I would think I never do that. Shadow work creates an awareness that if you're not looking at yourself honestly, you would continue to tell yourself these blind stories.
Once I began shadow work I still had that belief that I loved myself fully and never talked negatively to myself until one day while scrolling Instagram I saw a beautiful picture of a woman on a beach that had a beautiful body doing an extremely challenging arm balance and the first thing that popped into my head was “I’ll never look like that…” because of my shadow work red flags shot up and I was taken aback…did I just seriously say that to myself. There it was the proof that I was not actually loving myself or accepting of who I was and where I was at. Then I started noticing more and more the toxic love I had for myself was reflected by the toxic love I accepted into my life. In my relationships (Intimate and otherwise) I would question why I was treated certain ways but with my new awareness I realized exactly why I was treated the way I was. It’s because we allow ourselves to accept love that we believe we are deserving of but if we don’t believe we deserve genuine love then we don’t accept it and those who try to give it are pushed away.
I can’t tell you how many times I have said, “I don’t care what other people think.” But then one day I went to post something on my social media account and just couldn’t bring myself to do it because what if someone thought it was dumb or that someone thought I wasn’t credible enough to speak my truth. That’s when the undeniable truth bared its fangs and I had to step back and say look at that I do care what others think and it’s affecting who I am and what I feel confident doing.
It was when I realized that I haven’t always been as kind to others as I thought I’d been that really got me. It was moments that I was too occupied that I was unintentionally unaware that I wasn’t present or when I would criticize too harshly or blame others for my own faults. Being unkind isn’t always obvious. I found myself making excuses for myself but as my shadow work continued I had to face myself in the mirror, put down my guard and accept responsibility for causing harm to another. Nobody wants to hurt others but I was extremely disappointed to realize what I have done. The work began when I had to make peace with myself and choose to be better.
I peeled back layer after layer of limiting beliefs, memories of myself that I wasn’t proud of, trauma I’d endured among other things, but like ash in the wind it shriveled up and blew away once I brought it to light and acknowledged it.
I still have triggers and reactions that I have to rein in but now I see it, I understand it and I can prepare for it. Even though I’m not perfect I’ve shed the need to paint myself as something I’m not and that has been the most freeing part about my shadow work