Shadow work is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the “shadow self,” which is the parts of the psyche that people often keep hidden, such as trauma. This concept was first developed by psychoanalyst Carl Jung.
I have been meaning to write about this for some time now as I often see this in most organisations, leaders who are driven by their shadows. This affects relationships, productivity efficiency and morale of everyone involved. I'd like to invite you to think of this in a positive light. Whether humans are born good or evil has been debated by philosophers for centuries; I prefer to lean into human beings, being born inherently good until the belief system catches up with them through parenting, what they learn by observing of the system, culture and world around them. Thereby, developing the product of the human person, their behaviours and personality. This then drives them to meet a need or to fulfill an unmet need. Let's delve a little deeper into this shadow work.
Shadow work is a powerful tool for personal growth and development that involves exploring the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden or repressed. These hidden parts, often referred to as our shadow, can include our fears, insecurities, and unresolved traumas, as well as our more primal instincts and desires. While it can be difficult and uncomfortable to confront these parts of ourselves, shadow work is an essential part of personal growth that can have a profound impact on our relationships and our ability to function effectively in organizations.
Why Shadow Work is Important
First, by bringing our unconscious patterns and tendencies into the light, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and our motivations. This increased self-awareness can help us to make more conscious choices and to break free from patterns of behavior that may be holding us back.
Second, working on our shadows can help us to cultivate greater compassion and understanding for ourselves and others. When we confront our own flaws and vulnerabilities, we are better able to empathize with the struggles of others, leading to more authentic and meaningful relationships.
Finally, working on our shadows is crucial for success in organizations. Unresolved issues and unacknowledged shadows can affect our ability to communicate effectively, build trust, and work collaboratively with others. By bringing our shadows into the light, we can create a healthier and more productive work environment.
How to Work on Your Shadows
Working on your shadows involves a deep and ongoing process of self-reflection and exploration. Some strategies for working on your shadows include:
Journaling: Write about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and explore the patterns and themes that emerge.
Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness meditation to cultivate greater self-awareness and acceptance.
Therapy: Work with a therapist or counselor to explore and process past traumas and unresolved issues.
Creative expression: Engage in creative activities such as art, music, or dance to explore and express your emotions.
Feedback: Seek feedback from trusted friends, family members, or colleagues to gain a different perspective on your behaviors and tendencies.
Ultimately, working on your shadows is an ongoing process that requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to confront the parts of yourself that may be difficult to face. While it can be challenging, the rewards of shadow work are immense, leading to greater self-awareness, more authentic relationships, and greater success in organizations. All of us are accountable to our behaviours and healing is our responsibility in order to live in a more compassionate and peaceful world.
“Only the man who goes through this darkness can hope to make any further progress” -
Carl Jung, Yoga and the West