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This morning I was on my way to the beach when I suddenly realized how much the benefits of shadow work have helped me to feel so much better than I did just a year ago. And it made me wonder, what was it exactly that it did for me. And would I be able to explain it in easy-to-understand words to you? So you can enjoy the benefits of shadow work as well.
So, when I came home, I sat down and came up with a list of the six main benefits of shadow work. I hope it will help you on your journey as well.
The 6 main benefits of shadow work
When I organized my thoughts and looked back at the past few years I could see a clear pattern emerging that shows how shadow work leads you from one benefit to the other. First, it provides you with raised self-awareness. Then, through that raised self-awareness it gives you more self-control.
Obviously, self-control leads to elevated self-confidence. And elevated self-confidence enables you to have a heightened empathy for and with the people around you. All these things provide you with increased inner peace. Which inevitably leads to a personal transformation so big, and so deep, that you will hardly be able to recognize yourself within not too long from now.
Almost everyone reaches a point in their life that they feel the urge to start to look within. This is probably happening to you right now and brought you here. The external world is not cutting it anymore. And you are in desperate need of realignment with yourself, you might have already sought guidance or therapy, but still, you’re not satisfied with what you encountered.
And this is where shadow work can be very useful. It can only be done by you. And to be able to do it effectively, you are forced to open up to yourself. When you continue to hide or run away, you cannot reap the benefits. So, the only way is to dive deep within your mind, to be brutally honest with yourself, and accept what you find in the depths of your soul.
The darker side of yourself
The darker side of yourself is that part of you that you don’t want to recognize. It’s the part you don’t accept, terrifies you, and don’t want others to see. Oblivious to the fact that by hiding it, you unwittingly expose it to the world around you.
Don’t be fooled by the people that make you believe that the root of your shadows is to be found in your childhood. It goes much deeper than that. Your inner child is not a victim, and neither are you. You are the by-product of a decision you made so long ago that the entire world has forgotten about it.
Shadow work is what you do to discover who you are and to free yourself from the unconscious responsibility you feel for not only your shadow side but also the one of the people you interact with in any form or shape you can imagine.
Let’s have a more in-depth look at the six main benefits of shadow work.
Shadow work forces you to look within and to see, recognize, and eventually also to accept what you find. This presents you with a wider and deeper understanding of yourself as a human being, of your fears, your flaws, and other undesirable traits you will surely find while you explore the depths of your being. This is the most painful and difficult phase of shadow work.
This is also the period where most people quit. Because it’s simply too painful. You can definitely go through moments of anxiety and depression in this first step of shadow work. I invite you to be courageous and to hang in there. Keep on observing yourself, it will get better.
A useful thing you could do in this phase is to simply look, without judging. Judgment is what made you look away. The verdict of your dark side caused it to stay alive. You see, a shadow can only appear to be real when you block the light. Your non-judgmental vision is the light that reveals your shadow side can only exist by your opinion. Once you release your opinion you liberate yourself from the shadows you made up and ran away from.
Your practice of inner observation and your tireless attempts to look but not to blame, little by little cause you to develop a level of self-discipline that not many people are capable of reaching in their current lifetime without the exploration of the Self. You need to understand I’m not talking about the kind of discipline that you use in your daily life to complete a certain task for your job, or your exercise routine, or your healthy diet. This type of discipline is only related to your thoughts.
Thinking without judging is not natural for any human being. For you to convert even your unconscious thoughts into non-judgmental observations instead of opinionated ideas you need to be incredibly self-disciplined. Correcting any judgmental thought is difficult, let alone all judgmental thoughts that cross your mind throughout the day.
I hope it’s obvious to you that this part of shadow work is extremely beneficial for your self-control. You have become aware of the source of your thoughts and behavior, and over time you will see that you’ll be able to intervene in certain thought patterns and behavioral habits that are entirely based on flawed thinking. And you, my dear friend, will gain the ability to decide what you think and to choose if you want to keep a thought alive or if you simply want to let it go.
The natural consequence of raised self-awareness and more self-control is clearly elevated self-confidence. The more you allow yourself to see what’s inside of you and doing this with a non-judgmental attitude, the more your self-confidence will grow. It’s the unconscious judgment of who you are that undermines your self-confidence.
Deep inside you know who you are. How could you even be here if not? And you know it was you who looked away to try and see if you could find or even create a better you. How on earth were you going to build real self-esteem on a foundation that was so unreal that to keep it alive you had to keep your vision fixated on anything else but yourself.
Knowing who you are, gives tremendous self-confidence. And it’s that kind of self-confidence that shines through everything you say or do, without you ever mentioning a word about how confident you are about yourself.
When you know who you are the need to show who you want other people to think you are, disappears. And this opens an entirely new dimension to truly care for other people. You now don’t need to constantly feed a self-image based on a lie, that needs continuous confirmation from the external world around you to keep up the false appearance of who you are. You now don’t need other people to keep up your fake identity. You are now conscious of your Self and are aware of the indestructible nature of the foundations it has.
So, where before you spent your day consciously and unconsciously using other people to confirm your imaginary character. Now you can naturally invest your energy and time in making real and sincere connections with the people around you, without the need to obtain anything from them.
It will reveal a new world in which deeper and more meaningful relations can be built. And by your practice of non-judgmental observation of yourself, you will also have an increased capacity to look at other people the same way. Simply in observation, with compassion, understanding, and love. Now that’s what I call a benefit!
Increased inner peace
What do you think will happen when you know who you are, you are in control of your thoughts, are confident in the foundations of your Self, and lost the need to obtain something from other people and gained the ability to connect on a deeper level with about anyone?
Inner peace is the answer. This is your reward for the shadow work. Your relentless efforts will lead you to peace. There is no other possible outcome when judgment is gone. That doesn’t mean you will not have an opinion anymore. It simply means you’re not attached to that opinion.
Your inner peace will remain intact regardless of what happens in the world. As long as you continue to be observant and on the lookout for any thought that you are eager to keep alive, and not willing to let go, you will succeed and reach a state of inner peace that can last as long as you decide it to last. This is a true gift that not so many people will experience in their life. And you can give it to yourself.
This is the final and complete benefit of shadow work that encompasses all benefits. Your personal transformation will maybe not be visible to everyone but you can certainly feel it. You still feel like you, but, you smile more often, very few things manage to upset you, your emotions are more stable, you feel a deeper connection with the people and the entire world around you, and you feel grateful and joyful, not for the external conditions of your life, but so much more for the inner environment that you have allowed yourself to flourish and to be showered with light.
Now shadows can still appear, but you have gained the knowledge and strength to recognize them as soon as they manifest themselves. Now a shadow does not equal fear anymore, it’s a synonym of an opportunity to gain peace and an even deeper connection with who you are. And through that connection, you have developed the capacity to recognize the exact same internal light in others. And on some occasions, you might even be able to shine a temporary light on the shadows of the world that surrounds you, so that they are inspired to do their shadow work and shine from within, just like you.
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