We’ve all heard about Shadow Work, right? It’s a term that’s bandied around a lot by spiritual teachers. But what, exactly, is shadow work? What does it entail? What are the ways in which is can go wrong?
In today’s video, I’ll explain exactly what shadow work is, why so many teachers are so excited about it (it really is incredibly important), and how to make sure you’re doing it correctly. Yep, it’s time for one of my technical, nitty-gritty explanations which actually makes some freaking sense. Ha.
What exactly is Shadow Work? You hear about it all the time; teachers talking about shadow work, and it’s important to do shadow work. But what exactly is shadow work in nitty-gritty detail? Why do you have to do it, and what are the things that you need to be aware of as you do it?
That’s what we’re going to talk about today!
You hear about this a lot – shadow work. What is shadow work? It sounds really scary, getting in touch with our dark side, getting in touch with our negative emotions; getting in touch with our pain – with our shadow. So, I wanted to give you a technical explanation of what shadow work actually is, why it’s incredibly beneficial and how to do it correctly, no matter what methodology or techniques you’re using. So, let’s start-off with some general information.
Like a hard drive our brain automates programs
The way that our brains work and the way that we’re essentially programmed – I like to look at things in terms of technology – so, you want to consider your brain is kind of like a hard drive, and it’s got lots of programs installed on it. These programs are, for the most part, automated. This is what our brain does; it automates anything that we repeat. This is an incredibly beneficial feature that we have because, otherwise, we basically would never get anything done. I mean, think about it, if you had to get up in the morning and every day make every decision from scratch – what brand of toothpaste should you use? What clothing should you wear, based on no other criteria rather than just, here’s a whole bunch of clothes, and every day you have to make that decision basically from scratch. There are no preferences, there’s no, that outfit works for this based on past data. You wouldn’t get anything done; you would just be lost in your house, you’d never even get your teeth brushed basically. So, it’s really good that we automate things.
Another example is the fact that we can drive a car and have a conversation at the same time. Now, the first time you drove a car you probably couldn’t have a conversation, because you were focused on all the details of everything that you had to do. But, as you continued to do that for a little while, a lot of that began to become automated, and what that did is it allowed you then to do other things. To use your brain power to focus on other things while the automated stuff takes care of itself.
So, it’s a very beneficial feature that usually helps us out a great deal, and actually allows us to function at much higher levels.
Our programs are stored in our sub-conscious and can become outdated
However, these automated programs, I call them programs, they can become outdated. Now, all of our automated programs are stored in our sub-conscious; that’s where they live. That’s what our sub-conscious basically is; it’s all of our automated programs. This is also where we pick up a ton of data. You’re actually noticing your sub-conscious is picking up a lot more data than your conscious mind does, and your automated programs determine what you filter into your conscious; what becomes important. Your automated programs, the decisions that you’ve made over and over, become automated. And, these things basically determine what comes into your focus consciously.
Finding a program that serves us
Now, we can also do that deliberately; we can bring things up from the sub-conscious into the conscious. That’s essentially what we do when we do this kind of energy work. And, that’s also exactly what you’re doing when you’re doing shadow work. You’re allowing those unconscious, sub-conscious, automated programs that are affecting your life, that are essentially running your life, to come to the surface if they are outdated. And so, it’s a very specific way to be able to find those automated programs that are no longer serving you. Because there’s going to be a lot of automated programs that are serving you just fine, and we don’t need to fix those. We want to find those outdated programs and replace them with better programs that serve us; which means, we have to make new decisions.
Don’t be afraid of the discomfort of releasing
Now, in order to do that we have to do the uncomfortable, we have to actually look at those outdated programs. They’re not going to be comfortable, they’re old decisions that we made that we want to replace. And that usually involves a little bit of discomfort. And notice, I’m not saying suffering, I’m not saying trauma, I’m not saying pain; I’m saying a bit of discomfort.
And so, the key here is that you’re not afraid of that little bit of discomfort. There might be some uncomfortable truths that you need to face about yourself, but in order to clear those, in order to replace those with better programs, you have to actually be willing to look at the bug reports, so to speak. If you were running software, you would take a look at the bug report, at what’s going wrong, so that you can fix it. You have to face what’s not working in order to fix it.
So, when we do shadow work, essentially what we’re looking at is the uncomfortable decisions that we’ve made that are comfortable for us now, that aren’t working for us anymore, so that we can replace them.
Sitting with your negative emotion
So, essentially, shadow work is allowing yourself to sit with the negative emotions that you have, because those are your messengers that are letting you know that something in the system’s not working. It’s not flowing beautifully, there’s some discomfort, it’s hitting something, something’s going array, there are some bugs in the system. Things aren’t working smoothly. Perhaps one of your outdated programs is in direct contrast to a goal that you’ve now set. “I want this in my life” – and this automated program’s sitting there going, “Nope, that’s not going to happen.” You’re like, “But, I want it.” – “Nope, it’s not going to happen.” And, this little fight, this argument starts and that creates negative emotion.
Why shadow work can make you feel worse
I got a question from someone that asked me: “Well, I’ve been trying to do shadow work, but all I do is feel worse, it doesn’t actually help me.” So, thank you for asking that question; I don’t remember who asked it – I’m sorry, I get a lot of questions. But I want to give you a caveat there. Because, what you want to do is: You don’t want to just willy-nilly go digging for negative emotions and then sit with them. Because, what you’re doing in that moment is you’re often, just by focusing on that negative, you’re building a progression, which means the momentum of that manifestation is getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and you’re just going more and more into it, and now you’re deliberately building a negative progression with no purpose other than just: “I’m going to build this negative progression.”
So, here’s how I work, and there are many, many ways to work with shadow work, but here’s how I do it.
Focus on what you want first
What you need to do first is, you need to activate the energy of what you want, which means you focus on what you want, you get into the feeling of what you want to the best of your ability. Even if you can’t get 100% there – and you won’t be able to because if you were already 100% there, you’d be done; we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So, you focus on it to the best of your ability, which means you feel it as much as you can, and you don’t beat up on yourself because you can’t get 100% there. That’s fine; you might only get 20% there, that’s fine. But what that’s going to do is, that’s going to bring up, from your sub-conscious, any outdated programs that that is in contrast with. That is basically resisting the energy of this new thing you’re trying to create. It’s going to interfere. You’re activating a frequency – there’s this contradicting frequency – it’s going to interfere, and you’re going to feel it. It’s going to come up as negative emotion, as some kind of discomfort.
Sit with the discomfort until you get more data
Now, that might just feel like a reluctance, or it might feel like actual discomfort. It could even be physical discomfort where you’re starting to feel a little nauseous, or you feel some pressure in your chest, or you’re uncomfortable in some way.
Now, in this moment you want to sit with that discomfort. And what you’re doing there is, you’re actually building a little bit of a negative progression, but in a controlled way. And you’re building it just until you get more data about what this program, what this decision, what this automated decision is actually about. And, another little caveat here: It’s not going to be logical. Do not require it to be logical in this moment. You’re just sifting for data.
And so, you’re activating that negative progression just a little bit until you get a memory, until you get a thought, until you get a realization. Now, at the most advanced level of working, which is not advanced because it’s so complicated, it’s just advanced because it requires a great deal of allowing. If you don’t need to know what it’s about you can actually sit with the emotion and often pop it out. But if you can’t, you’re going to get more data which is going to show you what decision you’ve been making, and that allows you to change that decision. That’s the basic framework of how I work.
But what you’ve done by first activating the energy, the frequency of what it is that you want, now you are doing the shadow work in context. Now you are taking a look at those things, those programs that are outdated, those beliefs that are in there, that are actually blocking you from what you want. And so, you are only activating it to the degree to which you need to, in order to see what it is, so that you can change it. This is a really important part of this work, it isn’t just about feeling bad – the goal is not to feel bad, the goal is to allow yourself to feel bad for just a couple of minutes so that you can feel even better as a result. And, in order to do that, you focus first on what you want, you let that discomfort come up, and then you take a look at that discomfort.
So, it’s kind of like, you want to rebuild your house, and you start tearing down some walls, and you find some termites, and you find some mold in the walls. Well, you’re not going to find that until you actually start to do the work of the improvement; until you go for what you want. Now, you could sit around all day, and start to criticize the house, and start digging and looking for problems, but it’s not the same as if you’re doing it as you’re going towards what you want.
Hopefully, that metaphor, which isn’t perfect, has helped you to understand that a little bit better.
Now, there are many, many ways to do shadow work, like I said. Many different teachers do this, but what you want to look for is this focusing on what it is that you want first, activating that positive frequency, and then letting that discomfort come up. That is how I teach it, because that’s how I found it to be the most effective really. And again, the goal in life is not to do a bunch of work on yourself! That’s what we do in order to facilitate the goal. The goal in life is awesomeness. The goal in life is for us to get what we actually want, 100%, exactly how we want it.
And so, the goal really is for us to win at this game, and in order to do that it’s really helpful to know how to play the game. And that is what I teach on my blog, in my videos, in my book, Deliberate Receiving Finally, the Universe Makes Some Freakin’ Sense, as well as my course, LOA Academy.
So, if you’d like to learn more, then go ahead and check out my website; see if there’s anything that you would really like to engage with more, perhaps this information is resonating with you. And hopefully, this information today about shadow work has given you some more clarity about how to engage with this kind of work.
Until next week, I want to send you big, happy shiny, smooshy, smooshy, puppy hugs. And also, I want to thank you for bringing your light to the world. Bye.
Good to know I’ve been doing “shadow work” all this time, except I haven’t really called it that.
One thing I wanted to add, and it’s a trick of mine, is that shadow work can be fast forwarded by actually facing a situation that makes you really uncomfortable/nervous/etc. but that you don’t ultimately want to do. So instead of only visualizing what you want and noticing that you’re not 100% there mentally/emotionally, you actually skirt the edges of something you don’t want that triggers you in all sorts of ways just to get the data. I get a lot more information this way, tons of outdated subconscious beliefs I have to work on, and then tackle them almost simultaneously as I distance myself from that situation.
It’s quick, not painful, and effective.
This was so helpful Melody, thanks for posting this!
Love this, it sort of sums up some techniques in LOA Academy, very helpful!
Love that you touched on this topic! Thanks so much, Melody! <3
So helpful! This makes a lot of things clearer. I had been wondering about this for a long time. Thank you, Melody!
Melody, could you please upgrade your camera? I think you mentioned before that you use your iphone or something to record these videos, but I am sure you can afford a decent camera. (I am even sure that you can afford a *fabulous* camera and awesome microphone too!) Your videos would be so much more enjoyable with crisp clear video and audio quality. This current quality makes the watching experience much less enjoyable, and less aesthetic. Also why would you handicap your business with something like this, that’s so easy to *fix*?
Hi Melody! I personally didn’t hear much about “Shadow Work” but I love watching your videos anyway, so I watched this video, and the timing was perfect! I’m currently hung up and super anxious about having a fitness assessment at the gym next week, mostly because in my head I’m going “You’ve gained weight/got fat/got unhealthier than last time blah blah blah.” And though I didn’t really care about the numbers, or rather, I don’t WANT TO care about them, I’m totally freaking out! So your words about feeling uncomfortable at first to change the way that programming of getting hung up over my weight, my body and my health, really resonated with me. So a big thank you for that!