Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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Drowning In Thought: Seeking A Corridor of Courage.

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I would not look upon my anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with non-violence. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Drowning In thought: Seeking A Corridor of Courage.

By: Francesca Seopa

Lost in words

Drowning in thought

Seeking a corridor of courage.

In search of a craft

That can help me culminate a

collage of creativity.

Engulfed in engraved empathy

On all levels of perspective.

Preaching Peace yet overwhelmed by pain.

Chained by trauma

Trapped by memories of Tragedy.

Yet, I still seek a corridor of courage.

With paintings compassed by a 

collage of creativity.

Reflecting on the realities,

Realized on a journey

Rallying for unquenchable freedom.

Lost I might seem

Afraid I am,

An uncensored desire I’ll always have.

Driven by Destiny,

And A self Narrated Philosophy.

Lost in thought

Drowning in words,

Yet, I’ve never felt such warmth.

A home in confusion,

A hut in hostility.

Painful yet fulfilling

A pleasure found in destruction.

A self narrated ” building ” Destruction.

Driven by Destiny,

Or A self Narrated Philosophy?

I will Find Myself,

As I Voyage through this Destruction.

Surely, A Self Narrated Philosophy 

And Driven By Destiny and Passion.

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of Mind.

Love,

Francesca

From Traumatized to Trying Again

The pain and darkness of my depression were so severe, constant and intense, that for a long time, even after these symptoms started to let up, I felt traumatized by having lived through it.  The thought of ever digressing back into that nightmare filled me with fear.  I hoped and prayed that it would be a steady path up and out of depression because I knew I could not bear that again.  It was nothing short of a nightmare, come alive.

In the years following the initial onset of my depression, my symptoms did, very slowly continue to improve.  The progress was painfully slow, however and I wondered time and again if I would ever be free of it entirely.

In the past, when I enjoyed a period of good health, I relished in having a challenge.  I loved pushing myself to do the best I could at whatever I was involved in.  I enjoyed the burn in my lungs and legs from doing a long run outside.  I enjoyed yoga and pushed myself to greater strength by doing challenging poses.  But at this point in time–while recovering from depression, I had absolutely no desire to push myself to do anything difficult.  This was completely understandable.

I was living the greatest challenge of my life!  Every moment was a test of my mental fortitude and endurance–I knew I couldn’t add anything difficult to that or else I would break completely.

My favorite answer became, “I can’t.”  “I can’t participate in that right now.”  “I can’t help with that right now.”  “I can’t do that much at this time.”  “I’m not up for that challenge right now.”  And I wasn’t exaggerating or just “not trying”–this was me, doing the best I could and my best was often, “I can’t–I’ve got my plate already nice and full.”

But as depression continued to dissipate over the long run, I started to feel like I really wanted to do more.  But I had been telling myself and everyone else, “I can’t” for so long, that it became a trained, habitual response at this point, rather than a reflection of reality.  I wanted to try but I kept telling myself, “I can’t.”  And it was not helping my depression, in fact, it was keeping me down.

Finally, several months ago, I started thinking how nice it might be to join a gym–not so I could really push myself, but just so that I could get out of the house and do something just for me.  I spoke to a friend about it and chewed on the idea for several months.  Then, just a couple months ago, my sister in law started talking about joining a gym and ended up persuading me to join with her.  I did!

It felt like sweet victory to be able to tell myself, “I can” after so long of telling myself the opposite.

I have been to the gym almost ever day for the last month or so.  And let me tell you, this has become the highlight of my day!  I do the elliptical machine while I watch HGTV and listen to my favorite tunes– and found that this is way funner than I imagined it would be.  It has changed my “I can’t” into “I can do this!!  I can do hard things again!”

I am not exaggerating when I tell you how happy this makes me.  It helps me see how far I have come.  It helps me see that I have more power over my situation than I sometimes realize.

Sometimes we need a little push, either from ourselves or someone we love to jump that hurtle and propel us forward.  I’m grateful for my sister in law for helping me do this.

From traumatized, to trying again.  That is sweet victory!!

How have you overcome your own self-defeating habits?  Do you have someone in your life that helps you when you need a push?