When we feel that someone is hurting us, it’s really a reflection of our own inner world. That’s a tough pill to swallow. But as difficult as it is to accept, I’m learning to embrace it by standing in this empowered place where I am fully responsible for my reality. So when somebody says something to me that steps on my feelings a little bit, I take that as a sign that there is some fine tuning, clarification, that needs to be integrated into my inner world. Yet at the beginning of shadow work, always, we have to zoom out on the person we think is ruffling our feathers rather than focusing in on ourselves. Because they are shining a light on something we are carrying, poking and prodding at our wounds that want to be healed. These people and situations point us to exactly where we need to look within ourselves for our highest possible healing – and this is essentially the gateway to shadow work.
My first rule of shadow work is to Let it Come to You.
I’ve learned to see everything as a reflection of my spiritual healing path. Every manifestation, even the contrasting ones, as an opportunity to work though my soul’s healing journey. My mother wound, for example, runs deep while my relationship with my cousin/business partner may even run deeper. These ones have been the most present in my life lately. But these days I’m seeing it as a blessing in disguise, because I know that these areas of contrast and tension offer the greatest opportunities for my soul’s growth. And you don’t need to go digging around in all the darkest corners of your being to find those areas – like my relationships with my mom and cousin, they’re just there.
You also don’t have to do it all at once. Shadow elements that need healing will arise when the time is right, and it’s never just one isolated thing – it’s all connected. That’s why it’s perfectly okay to take things one piece at a time. Every small piece that you address, even if you haven’t “healed” the whole relationship or situation, resounds throughout your life and brings healing in ways you couldn’t have imagined. As always, it’s important to trust the process and to trust your higher self in providing you with what you need, as you need it.
My second rule of shadow work is Acceptance – that This is Where I Am Right Now.
Like I said before, it can be difficult to accept that our emotional reactions to triggering events are really a reflection of our own inner world. Our emotions always have a message for us. I like to think that, when we feel hurt or attacked, our inner being drops down those emotions like little lifesaving gifts (kind of like those parachuted sponsor gifts in the Hunger Games) because the answer lies in the hurt feelings themselves. If you can accept where you’re at, then you can bring yourself to the observation deck and just sit back, relax, and watch this energy. It has the answer inside of it.
When you observe the energy from the neutral perspective of the observation deck, what do you see? Maybe you’ll notice a pattern or theme. I gained the insight that my relationship with my cousin mirrors the dynamic of the relationship I have with my dad. There’s a pattern, and I’m the common denominator. I have no doubt that these are karmic relationships, soul contracts of some kind. I also have no doubt that their souls are growing and benefiting as much as mine from our relationships – the only difference being that I’m aware of it! There’s power in that awareness to take the lessons into your own hands and really make the most of them.
What I’ve learned through the relationships with my cousin and my mom especially is that I place high importance on their authority, letting it far outweigh my own inner authority. It seems to me that that’s what a lot of shadow work comes down to – the places, people, or situations we’ve given our power away to – and reclaiming that power. Following my inner authority has found me in far greater alignment with my soul than I’ve ever felt before. This leads me to my final rule of shadow work:
My third rule of shadow work is Agreeing to Disagree.
I feel like a totally different person when I live my life from a place of soul alignment. With my power placed as wholly as possible on my inner authority. When it comes to the push and pull that sometimes arises between inner and outer authority, Abraham poses the question, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather feel good?” That choice is a tool – it’s agreeing to disagree. Being able to ask yourself in any given moment is a tool. Do I need them to understand me, or do I want to feel good? Do I need them to understand me, or is understanding myself enough right now? Remove anything and anyone else from the equation and ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?”
It’s okay if triggering comments rock the boat for a minute. If we’re only patient enough to let the dust settle instead of jumping into defensive mode and vying to be understood, if we just let it unfold, then we can see the richness of the opportunity at hand – to be led directly to the places where we’ve given away our power. It’s our choice whether we reclaim it or not, but it belongs to us. Our personal power, our inner authority, is inherently ours. Part of reclaiming your power is standing in your truth, and part of standing in your truth is sometimes stepping back and agreeing to disagree.
How do you want to feel? When you ask that question you give yourself permission to choose where you’ll place your focus, such that you can line up with any feeling you want. Our minds are powerful and have the ability to create that for us. But we have to choose. “We have the energy that creates worlds flowing through us,” as Abraham says. So if you ever have the feeling like you’re here to build a better world – you are. And you can!
But, you can also choose to believe outside authority. To give your power away. Then we get hung up in second guessing ourselves any time someone makes some bonehead remark that pokes at our deepest wounds (ahem, my cousin.) But, in the case of my cousin, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know how or why he’s hurting me. And it’s my choice whether or not to put any stock into what he says. It hurts me at first but I take that as a sign to use my shadow work process, to apply my tools of awareness and engagement with the emotional energy which arises. My initial reaction is to put stock into his opinion, but my process and tools bring my power back where it belongs – in my being.
I appreciate my cousin, and anyone else who ruffles my feathers, for pointing me to where my power still lives outside of myself. I’ve put in the work to reclaim quite a bit of that power, and it has benefited not only those relationships with contrast, but my whole life and all of my interactions. The shadow work process has helped me across the board and has been healing for my overall energy. It’s never just one isolated thing, remember? It’s all connected. So it’s okay to take things one piece at a time. Every small piece affects the whole.
Again, by “one piece at a time,” I don’t mean that you need to heal entire wounds in full, one by one. We go in levels and circle around the same things over and over again in life, like how I mentioned the pattern in my relationships with my dad and cousin. Repetition is part of the process! So “one thing at a time” might mean a particular memory with your mom that rises up. You can address that memory and do any shadow work that you feel needs to be done around it, but you don’t need to go digging any deeper. The emotions or memories will come up as they need to and in the perfect timing for your own highest healing.
By doing shadow work, you move closer and closer to your authentic self, reclaiming your personal power. What have you learned about yourself through shadow work, and how has it changed your life? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading, dear friends! Find more articles like this one on the Owning Authenticity blog and hear more stories on my i Learned podcast. Explore the rest of my offerings on my website www.owningauthenticity.com
Content from Episode 46 of “i learned…” podcast by Carly Whorton, adapted by Maddie Billings