“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it Fate” – Carl Jung
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried a TON of new-age manifestation methods, dived into the Law of Attraction, and scribbled affirmations all over your fridge… BUT what if manifestation STILL isn’t working?
THe reason may well be your Shadow.
**And right here, I want to say that manifesting what you want in life isn’t just some self-centered drive to get rich and fuel some ego desire for ‘more, more, more’. I truly believe that when we’re able to dream big, desire a better life and work towards making it so, we’re actually acting in service to the bigger collective picture. Think about it – If you feel (and see the evidence) that that life is GOOD, then you’ll be more likely to radiate that good far and wide. Win-win.
BUT… it’s not always that easy.
Because for a lot of people, we’re NOT actually able to take the reins in our lives, even though we may think we are. What’s really going on, is that the shadow’s in charge.
What IS the Shadow?!
We all have a shadow twin.
Like the shadow you see cast on the ground wherever you stand, your shadow is your constant companion.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first coined the term “Shadow Self”. This is the unknown, unconscious side of the psyche. The shadow self contains the feelings, qualities, and characters that are unconsciously you. WHY? Because at some point in your story, you decided – probably caused by the need to survive – that these feelings, qualities, and characters were unwelcome, undesirable, unlovable, and pretty much unacceptable parts of your psyche. SO you pushed them away, stuffed them down, and told them very clearly to never, ever remerge into the light of day. This is called fragmentation. Because fragments of your psyche are spilt off from the whole.
The personal shadow usually forms in childhood. Or before. Aspects of the self have been suppressed for millennia – it’s nothing new in the West especially. So some of the qualities that your shadow twin holds may have been ‘in the shadows’ for many, many past lives. How far back you want to follow that thread is totally your choice….
But let’s start in this lifetime, in childhood, with a couple of examples…
Imagine you are three years old. You turn around in the supermarket, and where your mother stood just moments ago, is an empty space. You run down the aisle to find her, but she’s gone.
You panic, you cry, fear takes over and the sense of abandonment is overwhelming. Something happens to you in that moment: a trauma so deep that part of your child self gets stuck in this abandonment.
You find your mother – some kind stranger sees what’s happened and re-unites you – but from that day in the supermarket, the fear of being alone becomes a pattern that plays on repeat. SO great was the feeling in your little three-year-old body, that the fear of imminent abandonment is trapped within you, stunting the natural independence that was, only that morning, developing inside. Instead, independence, i.e feeling empowered when alone – gets pushed out of your consciousness and into your shadow. Because as you now know, being alone is traumatic, right?
Fast forward to adulthood, and despite your yearnings to be a strong, sovereign woman, you struggle to be self-reliant and continue to express neediness, in an (unconscious) fear of being abandoned by friends and family.
Here’s another story:
You’re around five years old, and you’ve just returned from school where you’ve learned a new song. You proudly start to sing it to your big brother, but he’s grouchy and his head hurts so he yells at you to be shut up and stop being so annoying.
You’re hurt and ashamed that you’ve upset your big bro, so to keep him happy you stop your singing and accept this new-found fact that your voice is annoying and your natural expression is most definitely not what the world needs. So this part of you, the part that was juuust learning about her beautiful and confident self-expression gets pushed into the shadow.
Fast forward 30 years and yep, you guessed it, you’re now a woman who struggles to speak up for yourself (I mean, you’re so annoying, right?) and suffers from a deep lack of self-worth.
So there’s the formation of the shadow.
Your Shadow is the container for those aspects that were once were part of you, but that you learned were unwanted.
…Either because they hurt you, or hurt the people close to you. Because as a child, the people closest to you are the ones you rely on for *actual* survival! So you definitely don’t want to go pissing those people off with your unwanted pieces of self!
Now there are two things to understand from here:
1. those shunned, suppressed, and disowned qualities don’t actually go anywhere
They only leave the conscious perception you have of yourself. Your ego (that’s your conscious perception) may keep telling you that you have zero confidence and can’t do life on your own. Or that what you have to say is annoying and worthless. BUT in actuality, that sovereign women, that confident human, and that self-expressed singer still exist…!
They exist in your shadow twin.
It’s just that you don’t’ know that! (And if they ever DID pop up their naughty head to say hi, you’d be horrified!)
2. The feelings (AKA vibrational frequencies) that exist in your shadow are still magnetic, even when you aren’t conscious of them
Let’s take the abandoned child as the example here.
The independent, self-reliant qualities of this child got pushed into the shadow, leaving her feeling perpetually needy, vulnerable, and reliant on whatever relationship she can find. In adulthood, she’ll likely seek companionship over all else.
BUT here’s the kicker:
Her sovereign self – the self who needs and loves space – who now exists in the shadow twin holds such a strong and unconscious power over her energetic field, that all the partners she attracts are themselves sovereign beings who need and love space. SO whilst all this woman is trying to find is someone to love her and hold her and be her forever companion, she’s actually, unconsciously attracting a mirror of her shadow.
What about the child with the song?
Well, she grows up with a deep dislike of women who use their voices – what an unwelcome trait! But because that is exactly who exists in her shadow, she keeps attracting matches to this frequency into her field. Perhaps it’s her manager, who’s bossy and unreasonable. Or the friend who talks over her in social situations. She internally criticizes these strong, vocal women, further reinforcing to herself that this is a BAD way to behave! AND she is making it harder and harder for her to ever stand up for herself…. SO whatever this woman consciously desires in her life (a great job, caring friends, a little more money each month) what she gets is reinforcement that she’s small and a little bit unworthy.
These are wildly general examples. In truth, the shadow self is complex, with many quirks and personal layers. But the thing that stands fast, is the magnetic, attractive potential of all that lives inside her…
YET… if the shadow stays unconscious, if we continue to be unaware of the qualities she holds, it’s impossible to harness that magnetism.
So however much spiritual development you do, however much conscious manifestation you focus on, your Shadow Self is always there in your unconscious mind and within your energy field, controlling your vibrational frequency. Whether you want him/her to, or not.
What is Shadow Work? (In 2 Steps)
Shadow work is a deeply personal process. It requires presence, kindness, and utter compassion. Shadow work involves looking into the dark, unconscious, fragmented aspects of the self, feeling into what you find there, and working to re-integrate them.
Step 1 is awareness
This is tricky. The nature of the shadow means that you’re unaware of what she contains. It’s hard to see her for what she is… PLUS, what you do find, you’ve already decided to disown!
What you can see however, is the projection of your shadow. This shows up when the shadow self reacts to triggers – specifically, situations, confrontations, conversations and things that happen in everyday life to remind you (unconsciously) of the initial trauma that caused the fragmentation in the first place.
Remember our friend with the song and the grouchy brother? Her trigger could be seeing someone else sing. Her shadow rises up in the form of judgements or accusations of that singer being over-confident or lacking real talent. Her ego wants to silence them like she was silenced.
OR maybe she keeps finding herself together with partners who play out the same pattern over and over – who silence her, causing her to believe she shouldn’t speak up for herself. Her frustration and feelings of confusion / hurt / anger in this relationship dynamic are actually the keys to unlocking her shadow…
The feelings triggered may be complicated to unravel at first, but this is where to start.
Step 2 is Shadow Integration
We know now that the Shadow Self contains the fragmented pieces of your true self that were repressed, disowned and pushed out of your awareness. Shadow work is the reversal of this process. Instead of pushing these pieces away, you need to welcome them back in.
There are many different methods for integration – some will work better for you than others, but all involve acceptance.
This is probably the simplest 2-step shadow integration practice, and perfect for beginners:
1. Allow yourself to feel
When you feel triggered, allow yourself to fully feel. Whether your emotions are anger, frustration, sadness, despair, or anything in between – dive into them.
Sit with them.
Give them space to express and most importantly, be validated.
In our culture, we rarely validate “negative” emotions, but this is where shadow work begins.
If you’re in a situation where you can’t do this (ummm, triggered by your boss in a meeting at work?) then make space to do this work later on, when you DO have time.
2. Love Yourself Unconditionally
Because, for the most part, the aspect of your shadow that’s appearing in this moment was disowned by you in childhood, this is where you need to return to, to re-integrate it.
Of course, you’re an adult now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be “parented”. So parent yourself.
Give yourself unconditional love in this moment, particularly focusing on your shadow.
Gently speaking words of acceptance and encouragement (internally or aloud) as though you were talking directly to your inner child could really help.
“ Your feelings have value”
“ I love and accept you, exactly as you are”
“You are safe to feel whatever you need to, in this moment”
This may feel a little strange at first, but actually talking to your Shadow Self (or as I like to call her, your shadow twin) will really serve to transmute the unconscious and suppressed fear that we all feel towards our own shadows, and help to integrate them fully.
Shadow integration isn’t a quick fix or a magic bullet – it’s an ongoing process that you’ll likely need to keep practicing over and over. But each time you do, your shadow will integrate a little more, you’ll become more whole, and the emotional blocks that your unconscious used to hold over you, will loosen up.
For 5 tips on using shadow work for personal transformation, HEAD HERE.
What your conscious mind yearns for will begin to gain more momentum
Your shadow will stop sabotaging your manifestation and instead, all that magnetic potency will be directed where you want it to go.
OK… now back to those affirmations on the fridge 😉
Drop me a comment below ⬇️ if you’ve worked to integrate your shadow twin.