Shadow Work is work to be done in the murky depths of your soul, but one to be unjudged and untamed as you trudge through the trenches. It is very deep and emotional work, but once you get into it, you’ll see incredible results manifesting in your life!
Essentially, when you find certain behavior distasteful, it is because there is a piece of you that connects with it, and you’ve shunned it into your shadow. Disowning it. And at the most inopportune times, it will show up and wreak havoc.
So in order to tame the shame, we have to show our shadow some compassion. A way to recognize this is by doing the exercise below:
Watch a movie or TV show in which you absolutely hate a character and try to identify with them.
Sit with a piece of paper and make a log of every single behavior you have a reaction to, and try to dissect it.
Why does that face make you annoyed? Why does that response anger you? What is it inside you that reacts to their reaction?
Keep a log of this and try to identify with the negative, and when you’re done with the movie/ show, read your findings aloud. Reading aloud honors them and shows attention.
Read without judgement and acknowledge that this is a part of you.
Then, if you feel so inspired, start an inner dialogue, devoid of judgement, as to when these were cast to the shadows. Understanding your shadow is the best way to heal it.
So, you’re trying to manifest money and it just isn’t coming to fruition. You’re constantly annoyed by certain pet peeves that make work miserable. Or, you can’t seem to date without tossing every guy with a minor flaw aside.
What may need to be done is some Shadow Work.
What the hell is Shadow Work? (Thank you for asking, Sharon.)
Shadow Work is a practice derived from the work of Carl Jung, in which we uproot and investigate the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to look at. As a Scorpio, this dirty work is just the kind of fun I’m looking for, but for most people, it’s terrifying.
Our shadow is a collection of parts of ourselves that we deem unfitting or undesirable, so we cast it away (into the shadows.) However, it is still a piece of US, and as multi-faceted beings, we should be able to honor even our ugly parts. So, when something inside of us gets ignored, it shows up right in front of our faces in very confusing ways.
Do you find it annoying when people ask for things at work? Maybe that’s because you are too afraid for ask for things yourself.
Are you weirded out by guys who have a nurturing side that you deem too effeminate? Maybe it’s because you’re shaming your own femininity.
Are you not manifesting your desired amount of money? Maybe there’s a piece of you that wants you to fail.
The point of Shadow Work is to come to these realizations and connect with the piece of you that had desires other than what you’re outwardly projecting. Show compassion for the pieces of you that are your own black sheep. Give those pieces a hug instead of shaming them and casting them out.
Because living in this duality, this split personality, is only going to leave you lying awake at night, as the Nine of Swords. It brings anxiety and confusion. It brings pain and suffering, because you refuse to see the root of your missteps.
Instead, embrace the Devil reversed, and free yourself from the clutches of ignorance. Sit down with your dark parts and come to a mutual understanding. The more you shame, the more powerful your shadow becomes in the depths of your soul.
So, bring your whole self into the light. Show compassion over shame. Hug your darkness and embrace yourself for every nook and cranny you have to offer the world. Respect your shadow, and stay witchy ( *)
Truth be told, I got the idea for this blog post by watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
And some of these women have supremely repressed issues that not only keep bubbling to the surface, but end up shaping their reality.
And it got me thinking… are the people that we think are master manipulators, puppeteers, or social chess players really that cunning? Or is fear the one running the show?
Like for instance, at the end of my infamous relationship, I called my ex boyfriend a sociopath. I was convinced that he had all of his ducks in a row and was playing a game with me in order to bleed me dry.
But upon further contemplation, I’m realizing that the moves he made that led me to believe he was psychotic were actually his feeble attempts at trying to hide his tracks. He would steal cash from my secret spot in my intimates drawer, and when I would freak out thinking I had lost money, he would suggest keeping a log of the money I put in there after a nights work or walking with me to deposit it in the ATM.
Sociopath, right? Well, not exactly.
He had an impulse, and a hunger to feed. His heroin habit was life or death, so he stole from me. In lucid moments, he would feel guilty and not want to do the things he’s done, so he would suggest honorable solutions to protect HIMSELF.
Where I thought he planned his abuse, like the reversed King of Swords who is indicative of a mastermind, I was giving him far too much credit. In actuality, he was swimming in a swirling pool of lies, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, which is told by the Nine of Swords. His despair created the illusion of calculation.
Don’t be confused, that is not an excuse for him. Rather, a deeper understanding into the sadness that repressed emotions create and how they can shape your world. When I would ask him if he took the money, he would scream and shout and cry, much like the girls on that reality show. He was sad. And he was caught.
If you see a girl/ boy/ whomever who seems calculated, they probably don’t even realize they are doing it. They are guided by a hunger that they need to feed, and their impulse, their trauma, is creating a world in which it is the epicenter. If you’ve lost your husband and you fear so greatly that you will lose anyone else, that trauma is going to live your life for you, if not dealt with. It might show up by trying to gain someones trust by telling another persons secrets. Or giving yourself over completely to someone right away. Or isolating a specific, maybe less aware, individual so that you two become synonymous. And that is not creating a bond. That is creating codependency.
So if there is someone that you fear in your life that seems like a calculated shrew, take a closer look. There’s probably some pain there. And if this person is you, maybe it’s time to stand still and face the trauma. Stay aware, and stay witchy ( *)
For anyone who is in therapy, was in therapy, or is considering it, this one is for you.
My first visit to my therapist during the tear down of my pivotal relationship was pretty torturous. I went in thinking that I was going to get a “yes man” who was going to agree with everything I said, tell me everything was fine, and that my life was going to be perfect. She was going to quell my doubts and tell me my relationship was peachy and I didn’t have to change a thing because I was right and knew everything.
I lived in Jersey at the time, in the home I rented with my addict boyfriend who left for rehab a few days after we signed the lease. My therapist was all the way in Bay Ridge, so I spent the hour long commute in pure panic anxiety because, well, that’s what I did.
I walked into the office and some soothing music was on, which made me way more uncomfortable, and this cute little German lady came out of her office with a stern warmth about her. It was weird energy that I didn’t understand, but maybe that was because she lived in a healthy world of boundaries, and I lived on another planet.
I sat down in the room to fill out paperwork, and when she walked in we started. I’m a story teller, as you may have imagined, and need to give full explanation of every detail so I come across as perfectly understood, so about ten minutes into me droning on, she commented about my posture, and how I have basically white knuckled my way through proving to her that everything was OK.
See at this point, I was convinced that he was going to come back from rehab and everything was going to be OK. The lies and stolen money weren’t going to be the elephant in the room. He was going to stay clean and go to meetings. We were going to have our fairytale ending.
So by the end of the session, which was basically an introduction, she recommended that I get this book about codependency. At this point I was like, “Fuck off.” But I smiled and graciously accepted the advice.
I think I maybe went two more times when he was in rehab, but once he came back I abandoned my recovery and made my life dedicated to making sure he stayed clean.
So when we broke up, I mustered up all of my courage to pull up her info from my phone and book another appointment. She welcomed me back with open arms, and through the rest of the sessions, once I really started to do the work, scribbled all over that damn book and went to meetings, I saw clearly.
She made a mention to me about my progress. How my speaking and posture have changed and how I just looked so sad and tired when I first walked into her office. Another “Fuck you” kind of bubbled to the surface at that point, but it was also a relief to hear. I wasn’t that right now. I had made progress. And I should be proud.
Now obviously the work doesn’t stop there. Its a 24/7/365 job. But its a job worth doing. So if you find that someone is trying t be frank with you and you just don’t want to hear it, take a minute to digest. They might be totally wrong, but they also might be right. Get help and stay witchy ( *)
As Temperance upright denotes balance, reversed warns excess.
Dichotomous thinking is usually described in psychology literature as”black and white thinking” and “thinking in extremes.” And while this is seen as a common symptom in many mental illnesses, it is a common symptom in just plain high achievers.
If you are an ambitious person, or even a perfectionist, you have surely experienced dichotomous thinking. If I do not succeed fully, I am a failure. If I finish anywhere but the top, I am worthless. The extreme ends of this spectrum are damaging and come from our best frenemy, the inner critic.
Moderation, or temperance, comes from self compassion. Being able to do your best and be proud of yourself for just that is mind-boggling to some of us. In fact, that thought might even be scary because if we’re OK with “just doing our best” we’ll fall into mediocrity and never find our way out. But, on the contrary, that in it of itself is greatness. If we can wrap our arms around ourselves and hug ourselves into a next level of ambition then we have truly succeeded. No one is perfect and to hold ourselves to such high standards is just unfair.
If I don’t get married by 30 I will die alone. If I don’t get this promotion at work I should quit and find a new profession. If no one reads my blog I should just give up because it’s completely pointless.
Sound familiar? We have all had thoughts like this at one time or another. And they sound so silly from the objective outside!
So rather than thinking in extremes like this, try changing your tune. If I don’t get this promotion, I’m going to volunteer for this project that I know I will kick ass at. If no one is reading my blog, I’m going to promote it more and look at the statistics patterns. If I’m putting so much pressure on marriage and my relationships aren’t working, maybe I should look deeper into my role in the relationships I do have.
Turn your extreme put-downs into goals and solutions. Being a defeatist is not only super dangerous but really uncomfortable to be around. Life will only defeat you when you let it, so turn the black and white thinking into a rainbow of opportunity. Start to sparkle and stay witchy ( *)