Engelta loves to talk and study in depth the self-esteem issues, as well as how to improve and cherish relationships.
In the bestseller book “When Nietzsche wept” by Irvin D. Yalom, there is this psychiatrist who treats his patient through a ‘Therapy of Talking’. It basically works like this: a patient suffering from a certain anxiety or phobia, or any other physical illness which is not linked to physical damage, but is rather psychological, shares his emotions and feelings starting from the moment when the symptom or behavior occurred, walking back in retrospective through all his life experiences to reach to the origin of the illness.
The Spiritualists don’t call it “Therapy of Talking”, you do not have a psychiatrist in front of you, you only have you, and it is called “Shadow Work”.
In the simplest words, What is Shadow Work?
Shadow Work is the process when you go through your experiences starting from the very point you are in your life and going back to the point of origin. It is the process where you explore your own darkness, how it was created, how it is manifested, how it makes you feel, what it makes you do.
How to do Shadow Work? What goes in the Process?
Lets take a simple example: you are afraid of water and you never swim away from the shore or you never learnt how to swim in the first place. This is the current situation: you would love to swim further and deeper, you love to watch those Olympics swimmers and you dream to be like them, but you can’t bring yourself to it. So you just accept the fact that you can not swim, and you simply do not swim far away from the shore. It is just who you are. Well, first step: recognize these thoughts and these beliefs. Second step: realize your desire to make a change. Once you have done this, you are ready to dive deeper in your own truth. Why do you have these desires? Because you love the sea! Why then are you so afraid of it? Is it because 2 years ago your friends were playing around with you, telling you stories about weird sea creatures? Or was it 5 years ago when you heard about that ship tragedy and somehow it got to you? Or was it 10 years ago when you first saw the movie “Titanic” and unexplainably it just scarred you? Or was it X years ago, when you were just 3 years old, and you were playing around with a boat and you fell off of it, causing you to experience the drowning feeling, or when you actually saw someone drown, or when you inhaled so much sea water that you were coughing like crazy, hardly breathing and thought you were going to die? Once you reach to the very first experience that caused you to fear water, you can heal that. Every other experience after that, it is just a trigger to push you to work on this fear you have, because you also have the desire to swim deeper, further. At this very point, you have to choose which is more important and more fulfilling to you, the fear or the desire?
Why do you absolutely have to do Shadow Work?
It is much more complicated than this, because our behaviors are complicated and life is complicated and most people choose to ignore the experiences that shaped them and accept whatever it is, than to actually take matters in their own hands. This process is rough, because it demands you to show yourself some tough love and demands you to be bluntly true with yourself.
This process is very hard and sometimes it will leave you drained energy wise. Sometimes it will make you face truths you do not want to face. It is not only about irrational or rational fears like drowning, or falling, or catching fire, or fearing dark places. It is about the freedom you seek, but somehow you hold yourself back. It is about the jealousy you feel when you see your friends/lovers/family having fun without you, even though you are loving your stay-at-home day. It is about that time you wanted out of that relationship but you were also afraid of losing him/her, or maybe you were afraid of losing material support, or a friend, or something else?
You have to do the “Shadow Work” for exactly these reasons. What are you afraid of losing if you know you have to make a choice but you can not bring yourself to it?
Shadow Work helps you heal these wounds, it sets you free. It helps you know yourself in such a level that you have nothing to be afraid anymore, because nothing really triggers you and you are at peace with yourself. You know what you want, you know how to have it and there is no freedom compared to this.
When does Shadow Work end?
Shadow Work is for sure not a one time thing. For most people, it takes from half a year to a couple of years to go through the process and heal their current situations, before they can move on with life and experience new things. Every new situation and life experience will ignite something new in you, and there will be times when something new will trigger you and make you feel uncomfortable that you will have to go into “Hermit” mode to process the feelings and find out what’s that all about. It is a lovely process, it is an excruciating process, but I assure you, once you start doing it, you will never rest, because the freedom that comes with it, it is worth more than those nights you cried your heart out because for the first time you actually found the courage to open those old wounds and heal them for real.
© 2019 Ensorcelie
Bing Xi from Singapore on January 25, 2020:
Great article! It seems like you have personally been through a lot. I am glad to chance upon your article and it's great to know you!