Our Shadow Self is not an evil-twin personality that we have to master. Our undesireable behaviors aren’t defects or soul blight, they’re a cry for attention—for help to heal our wounded selves. Any manipulativeness, arrogance, hostility, addiction… these aren’t inner fractures. They’re expressions of wounds that have not yet healed. Those wounds get hidden in the shadows of our consciousness.
Our Shadow Self is our neglected inner child. And our greatest opportunity for building strength comes from the work of healing our woundedness. The shadow is where our pain hides, waiting for the light of our attention. It lies beneath the distractions of workaholism and comparison and bravado. It’s the stuff in the basement of our psyches that we’re not cleaning up.
We avoid our Shadow by…
Overachieving—spiritual bypassing under the guise of self-improvement. We can’t tend to our pain if we’re shellacking it with positivity.
Overworking to stay distracted from our perceived brokenness. If I just keep working hard, I’ll get what I want. I will be so industrious and devoted and good, that God will deliver me… because that’s how karma works, yeah? Nope.
Overconsumption and addictive habits—from using mood-altering substances to buying stuff we don’t really need in order to feel and “look” better… temporarily.
Hanging out in superficial relationships to avoid being truly seen-felt-heard… intimate.
“Your Shadow Self is waiting for the light of your attention—your Love.”
First step: have compassion for yourself. It is a human survival mechanism to avoid our wounds in order to keep carrying on. You’ve got stuff to do: a career to build, people to care for, babies to raise. There are healthy reasons to delay sorting out your shit. And… we want to deal with our shit.
You have the strength. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Shadow work hurts before it brings relief. It might cost you a lot in therapy and supplements. You might have to take some time off work. You will probably have to have some uncomfortable conversations. And—you’re going to get there—to free, clear and sovereign.
By the time in your life that you’re ready to deal with your emotional wounds, you’ve likely built some support systems. An ecosystem of friends, teammates, and introspective tools that will help weather through. You’ve been building up your outer strength so you can take the inward journey.
You’re not alone.
The sense of isolation is part of being in the dark. But there are an infinite amount of people who’ve traversed the same path and come out on the other side. There is a pattern to the descent, and that means that the rising is also inevitable. Draw on the stories of others. They know.
“Learning to love my most wounded self was my ultimate restoration.”
When I finally shone some light onto my psyche, what I found was a bruised little girl that needed more love and care. I had been neglecting her anxiety and pain on the way to Enlightenment. The conversation went something like this…
I see you. I see your fear, shame, terror… and I’m not judging you anymore. I’m going to embrace you. In fact, I’m going to listen to everything you need to say.
I know I’ve neglected you. I’ve overworked when you needed rest. I’ve gone out with men who didn’t fucking get it. I know it might be hard to trust me, but you can trust me now because I’m here to do the work. I’m going to take care of you… and I have the Great Divine Mother helping mother me, so that I can mother you.
So, do you need me to stop overworking so that we can rest and be well? Okay.
Do you need me to get into nature more, so that you can feel nourished? Okay.
Need me to break up with situations that are insensitive to your very deep sensitivity? Okay.
I’m going to value your life with my compassion and love.
I’ve got you.
The podcast guide and reflection exercise are for building spirit muscle. Use these Reflection Cards for some catharsis. This inquiry is a deeply sensitive one—much like yourself. Please give yourself the space to be with the reflection exercise.
Integrate what you heard. Download the free reflection cards for this episode.
Self-compassion is the most powerful light source on the inner shadow. Shine it on the full spectrum of your pain (from the ancient to the recent) and keep loving what you find in the dark. This is good parenting for your soul.
Keep looking, keep listening, keep loving your wounds… and your radiance—your inherent, never-leaving, second nature radiance—will astound you.
That’s the shadow work.
I used to berate my Shadow Self (my wounded inner child) for doing/being/acting…
But now I know that she-he-they were trying to tell me to heal…
My Shadow Self wants me to know…
How she-he-they want to feel…
Encouragement/validation/comfort my woundedness needs to hear…
How I commit to caring for my inner child…
Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Women, men, humans… this book is an elixir of wisdom. Drink up every word.
Anne Davin has been one of the greatest champions of my heart. A light beam on my personal shadow work. She offers her Feminosity Course once a year, a home-study of your archetypical selves. It’s wise and healing—made me cry and want to fly all at once. You can learn about it here.
The Love + Radiance Meditation is one of the most healing practices I’ve found for shadow work. I use this intensely during difficult times. It focuses on Inner Child healing, going where the wound originates. So many blessings in this.
Sometimes you need a symbol to evoke your loving care for your wounded self. Some sacred art, a plant you revive, or a handmade doll. It’s all medicine.
Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries. Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.