Facing the Shadow in Times of Crisis
Shadow work is the ultimate spiritual ‘glow up’
The current global pandemic is ushering a time of major crisis and change on the planet. The challenges and dramatic shifts are causing massive upheaval in personal and public spheres. With changes to daily life, work, relationships, and uncertainty, certain emotional states and behaviours may dislodge that is destructive to self and others. It may feel like life is spinning out of control, with old patterns remerging to haunt and spook you into submission. Your shadow may be rearing its ugly head, propelling you into your own ‘dark night of the soul’ experience.
When we are stressed out and pushed to the brink of our abilities to cope and manage, it is easy to slip into an altered state, a pattern of being all ‘love and light’, ‘kumbaya-ing’ our way around reality. ‘Spiritual bypassing’ is a term introduced by the American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author John Welwood (1943-2019). He was a major contributor to transpersonal psychology. It refers to when we gloss over emotions and habits and behaviors that feel dark, not giving them room to process or breathe. Another response may be to dip into the shadow behaviors to escape the harsh realities and abrupt changes many of us are facing.
During times of crisis and change, there is a rich opportunity for growth and uncovering new awareness. Facing your shadow self is difficult to work, messy, and unsexy but can reap rewards and benefits beyond measure. By healing yourself you are also healing others, sending ripples through the energetic field, and contributing to greater equilibrium on the planet. The work is not for the faint of heart but can bring massive growth opportunities that pivot the trajectory of your life.
Psychology of the Shadow
Carl Jung Coined the term ‘shadow self” or ‘id’, also referred to as the shadow aspect of our major archetypes. It is the aspect of an individual’s personality that is unconscious. The ego may not recognize this in itself. It is what is unknown, or hidden. Similar to an iceberg, the shadow is the part that lies beneath the surface, unknown, lurking, and hidden to the parts that are above the waterline. In psychological terms, it is everything that we can’t see in ourselves. Just like with an iceberg, the unseen parts may feel deep, mysterious, scary, and even dangerous to look at.
Jung believed that when the human shadow is denied and shunned it has the potential to sabotage our lives. Repressing or suppressing one’s shadow can result in a flare-up of addiction, addictive relationships and behavior, low self-esteem, mental illness, chronic illnesses, unhealthy and destructive emotional patterns, and various neuroses. Jung viewed dreams as a doorway to uncovering these unconscious aspects of the self.
“ The dream, is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” – Carl Jung
What is the Shadow?
The Shadow is a personal set of qualities that you choose not to look at or identify with, yet they are part of you. For some that could be an addiction, co-dependent relationships, certain behaviors or life patterns, hate, nastiness, judgment, and emotional states that lead to destructive behavior towards yourself, others, or the world as a whole. It is the way you perceive and act towards yourself and others.
Though many people think of the energy of the shadow as ‘ negative ‘and the energy of the light as ‘positive’, this is not the whole picture. Shadow energy can be positive or negative. It is possible to have positive aspects of the self in the shadow. If energy is suppressed or repressed and resides in the subconscious, it is considered shadow energy.
The shadow consists of the parts of our personality that we tend to deem shameful, unacceptable, embarrassing, or ugly. Behavior traits such as envy, jealousy, rage, violence, lust, addictions, secret indulgences, habits and curiosities, and the need for power are some examples of what may lie in the shadow. Often we are reliving the wounds incurred in childhood or across many lifetimes. What we keep hidden and would never reveal to another at great pain, shame, fear, and embarrassment often point us in the direction of a shadow.
It is also quite possible to have strong abilities to cope, be ‘high-functioning’ so to speak, and contribute to our communities and society, and have meaningful work and relationships in one part of our lives while remaining unaware of poor behavior and unsavory aspects in other areas.
Facing the Shadow
Exploring the shadow can feel scary or make it seem like you might be losing control or even facing certain death, or an ego death, if you poke at it, and look into it, but it may also unlock pockets of personal truths, authenticity, creativity, energy, and awakening of spiritual awareness and psychic abilities.
The things that we deny or repress become part of the shadow. Anything we see as incompatible with our chosen conscious self we perceive as unacceptable or evil is relegated to the shadow. The shadow is the ‘negative’ qualities, disembodied, disowned, or repressed version of self. It represents parts we do not identify with or claim as our own and includes so-called ‘positive’ qualities. Facing the shadow, owning it, accepting it, and clearing it is a stage that brings us to greater spiritual maturity.
We look at the shadow as dark because it often contains emotions that seem negative; destructive impulses, and primal urges. But there is a ‘positive shadow’ self as well. For example, the global pandemic may have brought great prosperity in business and positive personal changes, or in career and relationships that challenge your former sense of self. Coupled with going against the common current of ‘doom and gloom’ and fear and death narratives, positive aspects may also be difficult to accept and be redirected to the shadow.
The shadow self does not disappear as it is part of us. It teaches us. The goal is not to remove it. In facing the shadow, we may clear some of the beliefs and behaviors and unlock the energy contained within. If we do not face our shadows, it may become misdirected and projected onto other people and situations around us.
Healing the Shadow
When we see others suffer and experiencing their shadow issues, we often want to reach out to fix or heal their situations. It is important to consider that they have free will in this particular time and place. They are sovereign beings making their own choices, no matter how destructive or concerning we perceive them to be. Unless their circumstances are a serious danger to themselves or others, it is not for us to intervene. As always, use your discernment and respect the individual’s process.
There is such a thing as ‘out of control’ healing that crosses boundaries and interferes with the necessary lessons that a particular soul requires for growth. An individual may have a soul contract where they are working through lessons and growth in a particular lifetime. Neutrality to people and situations does not mean apathy. During these turbulent and changing times, noticing our ‘lit-up state’, and managing it by clearing out our own energies using psychic tools may be all that is required.
A Psychic Perspective
From a psychic perspective, the shadow is an aspect of the soul that may carry across lifetimes. Themes from the past may remerge and grow depending on the environments we grow up in and are currently living. Noticing where we are triggered, or “ lit up” allows us to move energy out using psychic tools. Meditation to ground, run energy, and clear out is a form of psychic hygiene that is essential to a daily practice, especially during potentially stressful times.
Clearing the shadow allows us to gain clarity with our abilities, or clear sight, heal and find joy in the body. Facing your shadow in a meaningful way is an act of bravery and can improve your life through stronger relationships, clearer perception and vision, enhanced energy, vitality, and health, the conquering of addictive behavior, a shift in destructive and co-dependent relationship patterns, creating psycho-spiritual equilibrium, integration, spiritual maturity, increased creativity, and healthy sexuality.
Psychics, healers, and other spiritual leaders are not infallible beings without flaws or challenges. They also will lose their space, fall into their human dramas, and experience attachment, falling out of neutrality and most certainly encountering their shadow selves. Psychic tools are one of many possible pathways that allow us to clear energy and get into a state of neutrality.
Shadow work is not a ‘one and done’ situation, it is an ever-unfolding process over a life or lifetimes, revealing itself according to what your spirit needs to learn. It is in this dualism, this contrast, resonance, and dissonance that we realize truths, unlock pockets of energy, releasing old wounds and behaviors. It is possible to recognize the beauty and brutality of our current situation and hold both. It is possible to be at peace and even in prosperity while experiencing shadow moments or witnessing those who are ill or suffering losses in very real and personal ways.
Above all else, bringing in vibrations of humor as a potent healing tool helps us to hold the seemingly contradictory and dualistic nature of light and dark, seen and unseen versions of ourselves, others, society, and institutions. After this current world event passes, this may actually be your spirit’s ultimate ‘glow up’ moment.
Some ways to connect and manage your shadow
- Journaling stream of consciousness
- Art, music, movement, dance, intense physical activity, yoga
- Dreamwork- recording dreams, journaling and identifying patterns, symbols and themes meaningful to you
- Nurture your inner child
- Daily rituals, mantras
- Shadow work tarot spreads may highlight themes to consider and can be followed- up with activities, rituals, and practices such as personal mantras, journaling, and meditation.
- Carolyn Myss and Robert Ohotto are two of many individuals who offer insight into shadow work. There are many great speakers, authors, leaders out there to explore. Find the one that resonates with you personally. Always work from your own knowing.
- Somatic work
- EFT- Tapping
- Seek various healing modalities to soothe and release pain from the body (reiki, somatic, Tapping, Touch therapy, sound healing, angel healing, trance medium healing, to name a few)
- Explore psychic tools for meditation and life.
- Get a psychic reading, angel, or trance medium healing to support you in your growth.
- Your own unique method to tune into, reveal, accept and release your shadow
- Seek qualified mental health practitioners to help you manage emotions and destructive behaviors. (click on mental health to link to numbers for crisis and mental health hotlines)
If you want to explore meditation and psychic development, sign up for our Clairvoyant Meditation Free Open House to learn about course offerings. Book a student or professional psychic reading through The Psychic School