Our shadow is the term sometimes used to represent the part of ourselves we consider to be our dark side – our secrets, our shame, our wounds and our fears. Shadow work is the process of confronting those difficult elements of ourselves so that we can free ourselves from the negative impacts of our pain – the lingering depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses we struggle with, the addictions and other patterns we develop from trauma, the emotional challenges and recurring life issues we experience when our pain goes unhealed. Before we commit ourselves to doing shadow work, many of us are so afraid of our shadow selves that we refuse to look at them altogether. Our fear of facing ourselves, our fear of confronting our pain, keeps us locked in patterns of denial and self-destruction. We do everything we can to avoid our true selves. Our drugs of choice and addictive behaviors are our tools for distraction, escapism and avoidance. Working with our shadow selves allows us to connect with ourselves in a deeper, more intimate way so that we can really examine all the parts of ourselves we’ve grown accustomed to burying and suppressing.
Shadow work can be comprised of all the different ways we work to embrace ourselves, including and not despite our perceived flaws and shortcomings. When we work with a therapist to uncover the reasons why we do the things we do, why we’re so self-destructive, why we became addicts in the first place, we’re doing shadow work. When we commit to a spiritual practice of forgiving and accepting ourselves, we’re doing shadow work. We’re finally confronting our dark sides. We’re letting our shadow selves into the light of our conscious awareness and turning towards them, instead of continuing to run from them. We’re finally facing ourselves. We learn to discontinue years of destructive patterns – lying to ourselves and others, living in denial, keeping the immoral or shameful parts of ourselves hidden, keeping secrets from the people we love, numbing our pain with our drugs of choice and escapist behaviors. We develop and practice healthier coping skills, using things like writing, therapy and spiritual practice to help us uncover our deeply rooted pain and recurring issues.
When we’re in recovery, we start to build the inner strength, courage and resilience we need to do this challenging work. Many of us fear shadow work because we find it too triggering and painful. We’re afraid of the visceral reminders of the traumas we’ve experienced. We don’t want to relive our painful experiences. We don’t want to look at our wounds and fears head on. Doing shadow work as part of our recovery shows us just how strong and brave we truly are. It empowers us to take our healing into our own hands and to stand up to our pain so that we’re no longer paralyzed and debilitated by it.
Pinnacle Recovery specializes in inpatient rehabilitation, trauma recovery, AA programs and AA alternatives, experiential therapy, dual diagnosis, family therapy, co-occurring and dual diagnosis addictions. We also offer a wide range of intensive outpatient treatment programs. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.