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Anyone who has done any self-development, whether that is through books, online courses or coaching, has most likely come across the phrase shadow work. This is the work undertaken on the parts of ourselves that we or others perceive as flaws or parts of ourselves that we may not be particularly fond of.
For example, I have a part of me that likes to be dramatic when asked to do anything I don’t want to or don’t like to. I become louder and more expressive than normal. I use a sarcastic tone of voice. I make it very clear that whatever it is is not my personal choice and is being forced upon me. When I was younger and it was pointed out to me that I was being a drama queen and it wasn’t welcome, I started to suppress this side of me so that others wouldn’t think badly of me. I started to bite my tongue. I started to people please and go along with things I didn’t want. I stopped vocalising my disdain.
As part of my own self-development journey, I started to look into the different parts of myself and my behaviours and traits. There were parts of me that I felt very good about and started to amplify even more. There were parts of me that I wasn’t as enamoured with and set about changing. And there were parts of me that were starting to show up less and less, including my inner drama queen.
I had started to say no more often. I had started to put boundaries in place to protect my time and energy. I had started to go for the things I wanted in life rather than waiting for things to miraculously happen. There was no longer any need for my inner drama queen to be present. Not because I was suppressing her but because I had taken the time to work on other aspects of myself and naturally she didn’t feel the need to make herself heard as often.
This realisation alone helped me to accept this shadow part of myself. I decided to allow her to be part of me rather than fix her or hide her away. I knew that if she ever made an appearance there was something I needed to look deeper into because she didn’t just turn up for fun. There was always a reason. I stopped shaming her and let her become as much a part of my life as she needed or wanted to be.
When I spoke to other people who have also been on their own inner journey, their shadow self made them feel shame. These were the parts they didn’t like about themselves. These were the parts they didn’t want others to see. But shaming our shadow self will not give us the growth and transformation we are desiring in our life from undertaking self development work in the first place.
My inner drama queen wasn’t impacting my life progression in a way that I felt I had to change her in the same way I did with some of my other shadow sides. And this isn’t to say that you must become friends with every shadow part of yourself. There may be traits or behaviours that you really don’t want to associate with yourself and want to change for the better. And that is okay. Just as much as not wanting to change those sides.
Here are 4 ways to stop shaming your shadow self.
1. Identify the shadow part of yourself
What is the trait or behaviour that you are perceiving as a flaw or ‘bad’?
When you have done so, think about what it is about this trait or behaviour that you don’t like. What about it makes you not like it? Are there certain situations in which the behaviour occurs?
2. Acknowledge the part this shadow part has played in your life
Sometimes our shadow parts show up to protect us in some way. There is something underlying such as fear of judgement or abandonment that may lead to some of these behaviours. My drama queen was there to voice my discontent until I was confident enough to do so in a loving way.
Knowing why this shadow part of yourself has shown up and how it has helped you so far can help you to see that it has got you to where you are today.
3. Become friends with your shadow self
Once you understand why this part of you may be showing up in life, it can be easier to allow that part to live alongside the rest of you.
Whenever this part shows up (and it will in varying degrees) let it show you what it needs to show you rather than suppress and push it away. Let yourself learn from the situation you are in.
4. Implement change
I decided not to change my dramatic tendencies because they weren’t having a major impact on my life. My relationships and work were not in jeopardy because of my inner drama queen.
However, if at any point my drama queen had started to affect my life in a negative way, I would have looked deeper to change my behaviours.
If your shadow part is causing untold trouble in your life I would encourage you to try and make some changes.
In doing self development work I have learned that these shadow parts are part of me. They make up my whole being. They are part of me and who I am in this world. Living in shame of certain parts of myself does not let me be my truest self in this world.
Shaming and hiding these parts of me mean that I am not being authentic. I’m not being the person I am here to be. As much as we want to be positive, light bearing beings all of the time, this isn’t sustainable or possible. There will be moments and people in our lives that shine a light on the darker parts of us. In those moments and with those people, these more unsavoury sides will take centre stage. But in order to be rounded human beings, we must allow these sides to co-exist with the sides we prefer more.
Acknowledging and allowing these sides of us also help us to become more sovereign. As I mentioned earlier, these parts of us show up for reasons. Those reasons are deeper than the behaviour or trait. They are showing us where in our life that we are not living in alignment with our desires. They are showing us that something has to change in order that we can live the life we want.
Next time a shadow part of you shows up, try and step back and see what you are really being shown. You may be experiencing frustration, but why or what is causing that frustration. Is that the place you really need to look into and tend to?
If you would like support in discovering and working with your shadow self to transform your life, please book a consultation call with me. You can do that here.