The human psyche is complex, forming layers upon layers of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that fuse together to form your personality— the essence of you projected into the world.
But through societal conditioning and personal (sometimes traumatic) experiences, you’ve learned to show only the “positive” aspects of yourself. The parts of you deemed less desirable get suppressed into the depths of your subconscious because you don’t think they’ll be accepted by people around you.
The hidden aspects of yourself that aren’t honored, accepted, or even acknowledged are called your shadow.
Most of your shadows formed in childhood when you experienced an emotion you didn’t understand. You didn’t receive the necessary guidance from your caregiver to process your feelings, or worse, you got punished for displaying your emotions.
When you’re young and impressionable you naturally want to be accepted, to feel a sense of belonging to your family, friends, and peers. So if you’re taught that an aspect of you isn’t accepted, trusted, or valued— you bury it.
You form your identity based on who your family thinks you should be.
This causes your child-self to disassociate to prevent feelings of shame, fear, or discomfort. Disassociation is separation from the parts of you you can’t bear to face. You subconsciously choose not to identify with them and pretend they don’t exist, thus becoming your shadow.
For instance, if you were guilt-tripped for feeling sad as a child because it made one of your parents upset, you may have hidden sadness in your shadow. You dissociated from the emotion of sadness and removed your ability to feel sad. So, when a situation develops later in life that elicits sadness, you feel anger instead. Because these shadows have been suppressed for so long you become irritable, and resentful and may even project your anger onto others. You might get triggered when someone displays sadness because you never felt safe enough to express your own sadness.
In this scenario, anger is nothing more than a survival mechanism— and a clever one at that. It’s the emotion you feel initially, but it’s not the real emotion you feel deep inside. Anger becomes a mask for your sadness in order to avoid a shadow.
Emotions are nuanced. If you find it difficult to pinpoint what emotion you're feeling at your core, reference The Wheel Of Emotions. It’s a helpful tool on your journey to self-awareness.
With repetition, just like anything else, shadows become habits.
They control your behavior because they feel so familiar. Your reactions are automatic, they almost feel uncontrollable. One telltale sign of a shadow is your instinctive behaviors, the ones that come from an unconscious space. Often shadows show up as humiliation or embarrassment. You get so fearful of what others think of you that you deny yourself the right to show up authentically.
Remember, not all shadows are dark.
Positive energies can also be suppressed if they don’t fit the ideal version of yourself (the version you show to the public). If you were taught that you’d be cut off from your family if you demonstrated too much success or self-confidence, then being confident and successful might be a part of your shadow self. Highly successful people might trigger you. If they do, then there’s evidence of a shadow that needs attention.
The shadow self is a trickster— as long as it remains within you, it will always have the ability to control you. Until you decide you’re ready to unpack it, it will run the show.
Scorpio season is a beautiful opportunity to dive deep into shadow work so it no longer meddles in your life, or blocks your highest intentions. It’s the season of revelations, alchemy, and transmutation— an invitation to pull back the curtain of your subconscious mind so your shadows can’t run the show from behind the scenes.
Shadow work is challenging but empowering. Avoiding facing your shadows leads to an infinite loop of self-sabotaging patterns. Facing your darkest triggers, and building awareness around them is the first step to accepting the entirety of your being.
Embarking on your shadow work journey allows you to realize your true potential. It reveals past stories that are still controlling you here and now. It allows your heart to heal. It helps you understand yourself to ultimately reach your highest potential. It raises your vibration (and the vibration of those around you).
That’s why shadow work is an integral part of any spiritual practice and a necessary complement to other healing modalities. It’s not about getting rid of your shadow. It’s about accepting it fully, then transmuting that energy into something constructive.
Use the energy of Scorpio to become your own shaman, alchemist, and psychologist as you travel through the deepest layers of your being.
When facing your shadows becomes hard, give yourself compassion and grace. Although you may not love your old wounds, reactions, or triggers, they’re still a part of you. They’re a facet within your psyche that’s made you who you are today.
Don’t deny all the inevitable emotions that arise with shadow work. Feel them all deeply. Return to your breath and your body when needed— you always have the power to return to peace.
It’s some of the most important work you’ll ever do on yourself. It’s challenging and intense, but pivotal for empowering yourself to live the life of your dreams.
And you don’t have to embark on your shadow work journey alone. If you’re ready to free yourself from unconscious patterns, consider joining my upcoming course— Shadow Work.
With love and support,