Shadow Work: A Caution

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Shadow Work: A Caution
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Post # 1
Here's something I don't think I've ever seen anyone say in reference to talking about shadow work. Don't forget to come back up for air and see the light. Sometimes shadow work isn't pretty, or kind, or even legal. Sometimes healing wounds gets a lot messier before it gets better. That's okay.

But don't forget the light.

I recently found myself in a bit of a hole. Exploring the deepest and darkest desires and parts of the self, and granting a few, lines get blurred in your head sometimes. Confusion and anger took over. "Why shouldn't I?" was a question I asked myself often and more and more frequently responded with "I should, because I can." Without looking around me and asking if it served a purpose or whether or not I could hurt others or even myself.

"An ye harm none" includes you, my friend! Self sabotage isn't for your greater good and often hurts the people closest to you to witness.

There may be paths you have to walk alone. I know there are parts of me that I would't share with anyone, but that doesn't mean it has to be lonely. You don't have to let yourself be consumed by the dark.

Take a break. Experience joy.
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Re: Shadow Work: A Caution
By: / Beginner
Post # 2
Agreed. One should never dive into the dark so deeply they can no longer see the light. Especially because the whole point of shadow work is to connect with the things you keep in the dark, to coax it out into the light so it can become something more.

Many people these days mis-interpret shadow work as fighting demons. But that is a bit off. The actual purpose is to understand your demons as being hurt portions of your soul/psyche deserving of attention and healing. Every form of shadow is a strength that got twisted into something else by being used in an out of balanced way. Leadership become bullying. Faith become zealotry. Imposed shame become resentment and hatred. And so-on. By revisiting these personal aspects in a critical, but gentle and caring way we learn to gradually see whit lies inside each shadowy shape. This let's us replace fear and repression with balancing, healing, and integration.

I read a book once that actually represents proper shadow work really well. I tend to recommend it to people wanting to understand what it is about and don't mind doing so through a bit of vicarious experience.

'Running from safety' by Richard Bach.

It is a story about an adult who decides to revisit himself as he was as a child. And when he first does, said child opens the dialogue with a flamethrower. (He is kind of angry about being locked away in favor of adulting). All in all not a bad read, actually.
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Re: Shadow Work: A Caution
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Post # 3
I really wish I had that sort of guidance when I started this journey. In fact at first I had never even heard it phrased that way, to bring it into the light. I spent months thinking it just meant to be "in tune" with your shadow self by exploring the worst wounds and parts of yourself to heal them, and I just got darker and darker and wondered why no healing was happening.

I got pretty angry and ended up lashing out at some of the people I loved the most and burned bridges I shouldn't have.

I guess in a roundabout way I did learn, I just did it the hard way first. And that could have been avoided if I didn't silence naysayers and listened to what they were trying to tell me the whole time.
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Re: Shadow Work: A Caution
By: / Beginner
Post # 4
That is possibly true, but the trick is to not be hard on yourself for it. Besides, some philosophers would be happy to argue that you followed the path you were meant to, led by your nature. Seeing as who you are is something always in the now, looking back all you can do is compare yourself with someone you no longer are.

You made the choices you did then because it is reflective of who you were. Which is someone who might not have made use of such information then inthe same way you are now, because you didn't have the experiences and lessons you currently have to draw from.

But then such ideas invariably lead to the paradoxes that surround choice versus reaction, and will versus pre-destiny. ... Things fun to consider, but hard to dive into without setting your brain ablaze.

In the end, what really matters is recognizing you are where you are now because of the choices you have made. That acceptance of responsibility can be both prideful and bitter, but it is also greatly empowering. Being a victim (not responsible) means you deny yourself the power to make change, as what happens to you is defined as outside your control. So, naturally, how -can- you? Meanwhile, accepting your direct role in your own life also means realizing you now have the power to make mindful and active choices.

It sounds like walking through your personal darkness is what led you to this point of realizing choice. So I would say it served a good purpose despite being unpleasant at the time.
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Re: Shadow Work: A Caution
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Post # 5
That's true. Thank you for that perspective.

I suppose I'm just hoping my experience will help some people to learn from me and not take the hard road that didn't necessarily have to be this hard just because I was stubborn.

I also hope in time that some of the people I drove away will forgive me again and we can start fresh. Because I miss them and really regret what I did.
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Re: Shadow Work: A Caution
By: / Beginner
Post # 6
Merry Meet,

Shadow work is wise, but dwelling too much in darkness or light is a bad thing. Shadow work is accepting things you wish to avoid. Toxic positivity, where you ignore anything deemed "negative" and insist on a positive spin on every situation, could be considered harmful and negative too. The key wish shadow work is know the balance. Spend some time working through trauma, but also taking time to relax with things you love. Some people feel guilty taking time for themselves. A way to do shadow work around this is to take a bath, watch a movie, or basically do something relaxing instead of something you would consider "productive" as some see down time as a negative. Shadow work is not just focusing on the dark memories of the past, but reactions to situations, harmful patterns and behaviors you leave unquestioned, and dreams you do not pursue because of "tradition." You cannot spend every second in the shadow, nor can you spend every moment in the light. There is no shadow without light.

Blessed Be.
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