Engaging in Shadow Work

In my last article, I introduced the concept of shadow work and how it is necessary in order to deal with the effects of trauma. I discussed how most of us suffer from the effects of early life trauma, which does not have to be major such as abuse or emotional neglect but could also take the form of household dysfunction.

As we go through lives and suffer traumas and adverse events, most people will suppress the difficult emotions that arise and not feel them to their fullest extent. They do this to avoid the pain of difficult emotions without realizing that the pain will lead to suffering over time, if not addressed in the moment it arises. This is especially true of children and youth, who may not have the emotional maturity to deal with painful emotions when they arise.

How does one address this issue? It is through the process of shadow work. What is shadow work? This is the process of going deep within and excavating your inner world to uncover your suppressed emotions and the source of your negative thoughts and limiting beliefs and integrating these into your higher consciousness. It is about deep contemplation and introspection to uncover your dark side and use it to fuel your consciousness to drive your personal evolution.

It is not a path of the faint of heart and requires courage to face your inner demons but, if you want to live a life of joy, fulfillment and serenity then it is necessary. How does one engage in shadow work, you may ask? There is no one path that is right for everyone but there are some general principles that can guide you in this journey of a lifetime.

Here are several steps to get you started:

1. Feel all of your emotions when they arise and do not resist them, especially the painful ones. Emotions are the language of the soul and must be felt fully in order to get to the deeper essence of your true nature, which is why we are here in the first place. Resisting painful emotions in the long run will lead to suffering,

2. Share the burden. If you are facing a difficulty or challenge, it can often be very cathartic to share your struggles with someone who you love or trust. They do not have to ‘fix you” or give you advice but just have to be a listening presence and hold the space for you to bear your soul and make sense of what you are experiencing.

3. Journal regularly. Journaling is a powerful tool, which you should do on a regular basis. It allows you to get all your thoughts and emotions down on paper, which can help you get then out of your head and heart and create some space around them. This can facilitate the process of understanding why you think and feel what you do and transmuting and integrating these entities into your deeper essence.

4. Ask powerful questions. The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of the questions you ask about it. You should regularly ask and journal on deep penetrating questions. Here are a few to get you started. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I feeling right now? What am I fearful of? What am I grateful for? What are the recurrent and ongoing problems in my life? What are they trying to teach me about myself? What if I were to reframe my problems as opportunities for growth? What irritates me about others? Do I have these qualities in myself? Where am I going?

It can be daunting to engage in shadow work but I know, through personal experience, it is a necessary ingredient to realize your true and full potential in this life and beyond. It is also important to help take your relationships to a place of deeper connection and intimacy.

I encourage all of you to explore the path of shadow work regardless of where your life may be at this moment if you are looking to elevate the path of your life’s journey.

Dr. Nauman Naeem



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