Shadow Work 101

The idea of the shadow self was first conceived by Carl Jung, a 20th-century psychologist from Switzerland. In his field of psychology, the word ‘shadow’ refers to hidden parts of ourselves.

This manifests as parts of ourselves we try to repress because they make us feel sad, wounded, uncomfortable, or may bring up past trauma that we tried to forget.

This can also be the side that we suppress when trying to function in society. It can hint at how we see ourselves, for example being weak, unworthy, etc.

These are also the behaviors that come out when compromised or during personal rough times. When left unattended these behaviors can come out as defensive mechanisms and affect our everyday life, relationships, work, creativity, and reactions to things that would normally not be a big deal.


‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’

-Carl Jung

Some signs of the shadow side are anger, blame, laziness, insecurity, co-dependency, or even independence.

Your shadow can also manifest itself as:

  • Addictions

  • Uncontrollable rage/anger

  • Social anxiety

  • Obsessive/compulsive disorders

  • Sexual deviancy

  • Depression

  • Self-sabotage

  • Limiting beliefs

For our minds, when shadow work is left unattended our minds become polluted which then affects our emotions. This causes us to not be able to think clearly. Our emotions may lead us astray and cause us to act out.

Shadow work may seem counterproductive because you will have to face your pain, fears, and triggers. You will have to dig up old memories that you thought you forgot about instead of running away from them.

The process works by allowing yourself to feel and understand the painful aspects of yourself and what you’ve been through so that you are able to draw from the experiences and use them as tools when and if similar situations arise. Then, you won’t be triggered but instead prepared.

It takes courage, strength, an open mind, and an open heart, all of which you will start to develop when you take the first step.

Shadow work is an introspective psychological practice that anyone can do and can lead to a more fulfilling life. This isn’t just spiritual or hippy-dippy. When working with the shadow, you may have moments of awakening that lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved relationships through understanding yourself and accepting others

  • Increased energy and improved immune system

  • Overall enhanced state of wellbeing and mood

  • Better communication with others

  • Ability to set boundaries in your life

  • Cease the cycle of self-destruction

  • Creativity

  • Intuition

  • Resilience

  • Self-Esteem

Writing, or journaling, is one of the best tools to start with when engaging in shadow work. This is a way to record all of your thoughts and feelings so that you begin to become aware of your unconscious self.

You can increase your internal dialogue with yourself at the moment.

Make positive changes to your inner dialogue:

Some common shadow beliefs are:

  • I am not good enough.

  • I am unloveable.

  • I am flawed.

  • My feelings are not valid.

  • I must take care of everyone around me.

  • Why can’t I just be normal just like others?

If you aren’t saying phrases like these then pay attention to what holds your attention and behaviors you allow from others.

Decipher and decide which habits, patterns, and behaviors no longer serve you so that you can move forward with enhanced awareness.

Be compassionate and patient with yourself.

Pay attention to the emotions you feel

No emotions are bad. Emotions ARE NOT the same as actions.

Our negative emotions are portals into the shadow. They help us determine our wounds and fears.

When you feel an emotion, take a minute to examine it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I feeling?

  • Why am I feeling this?

Investigate your feelings objectively. Try to look from the outside in so you can begin to separate the feeling from the cause.

Affirmations * Believe you are worthy and that things will get better

Signs & their shadow sides:

Aries: moody, short-tempered, and impulsive

Taurus: stubborn, over-indulgent, and possessive

Gemini: superficial, restless, and impulsive

Cancer: self-pitying, self-absorbed, and oversensitive

Leo: domineering, pretentious, vain, or melodramatic

Virgo: skeptical, inflexible, cold, and interfering

Libra: introverted, indecisive, and even unreliable

Scorpio: obsessive, manipulative, and unyielding

Sagittarius: overly blunt, restless, and unemotional

Capricorn: unimaginative, inhibited, or dictatorial

Aquarius: lazy, aloof, and sarcastic

Pisces: lazy, oversensitive, or self-pitying


Frankincense - promotes integrity with Self

Black Spruce - promotes mental clarity

Himalayan Cedarwood - fortifying effect on mind and emotions