I’ve done a lot of “shadow work”. Shadow work meaning looking into the feelings, thoughts, and associations I made in the past that are giving me grief in my present. In other words, I took lots of time to look into why I felt so shitty for so long and how my past was related to that.

I went from being a victim and blaming other people, to feeling a victim and feeling inadequate, to feeling inadequate and being enormously mad at myself, to feeling a victim and feeling helpless. I can go on for a while but in the end, I let go of the victimhood, started to take responsibility for my own actions, forgave myself, looked at myself with love and started believing and trusting myself again.

I remember very vividly when being in the victimhood and looking into my past, how contracted, small and angry I felt. It felt like I didn’t have any choice at that time and it was so damn hard to choose for a point of view less angry and more empowering and forgiving. It felt like too big of a hurdle for me to take.

During those years I did transform my victim mentality but I did take the long route.

Now I believe it’s not necessary to dive into the past and relive experiences that caused you pain. I did and I kept reaffirming my victim mentality as well as other negative emotions. Instead of learning to look at those experiences with an empowering point of view, I kept affirming my negative one.

By doing this I kept myself away from the light – meaning being my True Self – longer than necessary.

So why does Shadow work keep you from the light?

(Nothing really does keep you from the light except choosing to do so. Shadow work in itself, therefore, doesn’t keep you from the light. But it can keep you away from the light longer than necessary)

  • Every experience doesn’t have any meaning in itself but the meaning you give it. This means it’s more beneficial to learn to change your point of view on these experiences.
  • How you view your experiences influences how you feel. So if you want to change how you feel NOW, change how you view your past NOW. If you do that, you change how you feel NOW. For that, you don’t need to go back and work through every negative experience in your life.
  • Shadow work can have the effect of keeping you identified with your limiting beliefs. In the end, it’s those limiting beliefs that make you feel shitty now and not your experiences in the past.
  • Bad things happened in the past and they don’t happen to you in the NOW. With Shadow work you keep reliving those past experiences and for your emotions and vibrations, it seems as if it’s happening NOW.

Why we keep doing Shadow work

  • For me it had a lot do with fear. I felt so small, inadequate, and lonely that I felt too scared to step into my own power. I didn’t think I had it in me. It felt less scary to stay in the past and try to “explain” and “rationalize” everyone’s actions in my experiences than to just shift my point of view.
  • I also held on too much to my limiting beliefs. I believed in lack of love, money, and possibilities so much I couldn’t believe something else was possible. My world was too small and too contracted to see that what I chose to believe is the exact opposite of what Life and I am about.
  • Being attached to my limiting beliefs at that time did have some kind of benefit. It if didn’t I would’ve chosen a different viewpoint. The benefit was that that option felt less scary and overwhelming. By choosing those options I chose the road with less intense fear emotions in the short run and for negativity, doubt, and fear as well on the long run.

When you dive within yourself and you dive into your so-called shadow parts, that hardly ever goes hand in hand with positive feelings. The theory is that because something doesn’t make you feel good, it gets buried in your unconscious parts of your mind. And from there it influences how you act and behave now.

Although it is true that beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that you’re not conscious of can influence how you behave now, it isn’t necessary to dive into negative stuff in your past.

By diving into that negativity you step into that negativity. By doing so, you’re lowering your vibration and with a lower vibration you don’t have access to higher vibration overviews and insights.

What I mean is, that when you unnecessarily look and step into “long lost shadow parts” of yourself and deliberately stepping into negative feelings, you’re depriving yourself of a higher perspective. When you feel grateful, forgiving and loving you have access to more insightful, more in-depth and more loving perspectives than when you feel mad, angry or frustrated.

So if you want to feel better now, and become conscious of unconscious beliefs and thoughts, you don’t have to look at your past.

Your present tells you everything. Because your present is a reflection of you before your present moment became your present moment. So looking at your present, you’re looking at your past. Your present is nothing but a reflection of your inner vibration. So your present reflects your past.

So instead of diving within and looking for your shadow parts in your past, look at your present and work with that. That’ll show you enough to uncover what’s unconscious.

Carmen Smallegange is a coach specialized in uncovering and transforming limiting beliefs. Using her own life lessons she shines a new and fresh light on negative experiences to empower others to do the same and to acknowledge and step into their own amazing potential. You can get her free workbook on how to transform your fears or follow her on Facebook.



Image courtesy of Maranatha Pizarras.