We’re often encouraged to ignore our darkness. To pretend that we don’t have inner demons, that we can be all love and light, that we can be “healed” without diving into our wounds.
The truth is that we can’t, and that’s where shadow work comes in.
Shadow work is the conscious practice of exploring your dark feelings, often ignored in your subconscious, that you feel ashamed and afraid of.
The aim of shadow work is to bring that darkness to the light and integrate it into your whole self. So that you can heal and become whole.
But once you start working with your shadow, how do you know that it’s really working?
This post will share 6 signs that your shadow work practice is working, moving you towards being a more healed, whole human being.
1. Other people’s behaviors don’t trigger you like they used to. They no longer create intense emotional responses or cause you to go into your head. You notice their behaviors, of course, but no longer feel a need to react or respond.
2. You drop blame and denial. When a shadow aspect of yourself shows up, you don’t deny it and you no longer blame yourself or the person who may have triggered you. You’re learning to acknowledge and accept your shadow, so you may even feel grateful to those who have helped shine a light on it so that it can be transformed and healed.
3. You judge other people (and yourself) less. When you’ve gone into the depths of your own darkness and learned to offer yourself complete acceptance and forgiveness, it’s so much easier to offer that to other people, as well.
You’re able to be much more accepting and compassionate towards others because you realize that your judgments of others stem from your own unhealed places. Once you heal those wounds, other people’s behaviors don’t phase you.
4. You recognize that you have become part of someone’s shadow. According to shadow work expert Jessi Huntenberg, the shadow work journey starts as what was done to you— all the conditioning and fear and wounds you have from your family, your childhood, from society— and slowly you get to a point where you realize that you are someone else’s shadow, too.
When you can realize this and offer yourself forgiveness for the people that you hurt when you were operating from a place of your own wounds, you know that your shadow work is working.
5. You’re no longer afraid to be seen. So many of us have wounds around visibility. We’re afraid to be seen. We feel like if people knew this or that about us, they wouldn’t love us. They would see how “unworthy” we really are.
When your shadow work is really working, that shame around the darkest parts of you begins to dissipate. It gets transformed into acceptance and love. And so you’re no longer afraid to be seen as you really are, because you accept and love yourself fully and wholly.
6. Your life has become more peaceful. This is what we all want, right? Shadow work can get you there. Your life becomes more peaceful when you fully embrace and love ALL parts of yourself— the parts that are easy to love and the parts that are really difficult. Your interactions with others, your relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself all become a lot more positive.
What is your relationship with shadow work? Which of these signs are you experiencing?
About Eryn Johnson
Eryn is a mystic and seeker currently based in Philadelphia. She teaches yoga, reads tarot, does reiki energy healing, and loves to write. She is also the host of the Living Open podcast, and if she’s not teaching yoga or reading tarot you can probably find her in a crystal shop, buying plane tickets, or googling someone’s birth chart. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @erynj_ and at www.living-open.com.