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The parts of yourself that you struggle with—your shadows—are keys to your wholeness and feeling complete.

Are there parts of your personality that you’d prefer to eliminate? 

Maybe you’ve even learned to deny that they exist? 

According to the psychotherapist Carl Jung, these parts make up your “shadow.” And embracing them is vital for becoming your authentic self. 

Shadow work is the practice of recognizing and accepting these parts so that they don’t drive you subconsciously. For example, what if you had a jealous streak that you worked to accept rather than repress?

Maybe you would become more aware of when you are being overly protective of your relationships. And perhaps you’d also learn to give yourself compassion over your inherent need for security. 

Spotting your shadow self is said to be a game-changer– in subtle and bold ways. It brings a shift in the way you look at yourself and the world. While there are several exercises to practice shadow work, try starting with these:

1. Notice Your Triggers

Are there particular people or behaviours that really irk you and arouse your judgement? 

So often, we are angered when we see our “shadow selves” in other people. After all, if we don’t accept these qualities in ourselves, why would we accept them in others?

2. Practice Non-judgement and Curiosity

To do shadow work, you must learn to explore yourself without judgment, using curiosity as a tool for learning. 

When you notice yourself becoming impatient with yourself, slow down and ask yourself questions. Be compassionate with yourself. 

Create a space within yourself to deeply feel the shadow emotion without putting yourself down.

3. Shadow Journaling

Writing down your experiences creates a powerful opportunity for deeper reflection. When you observe emotions or behaviours in yourself that might be connected to your shadow, take time to write. 

Try to describe your emotions in greater detail—for example, instead of just “angry,” you might be feeling “indignation,” “repulsion,” “disappointment,” or “offended.”

Use words, mindful actions and self-awareness as tools to do your shadow work. No amount of silent sitting, mantra-chanting or aromatherapy will take its full effect if you skip this crucial step. No amount of silent sitting, mantra-chanting or aromatherapy is going to take its full effect if you skip this crucial step. 

Like you cannot run away from your physical shadow, you cannot run away or shun your subconscious ones. 

Try these simple exercises with intention and compassion. 

You’ll realize how magnanimous, generous and all-encompassing YOU are.