We all have some kind of trauma in our pasts. It doesn’t have to be childhood trauma, It could be from a breakup last week, A negative thought you just had about yourself before you started reading this. Taking a good look at the not-so-good parts of your life is called doing your shadow work. Stop and take a minute or two to read what you can do to identify those areas in your life and how this can help you start healing all the past trauma.
It doesn’t matter when it happened… What matters is that you work through it. Don’t keep pushing down feelings you can’t shake.
4 parts of the human body
When you think of the human body most will think of just the mind, body, and spirit. However, there is 4th part called the shadow. you can’t have the light without the dark. There is a balance that has to be maintained.
We work so hard on our mind, body, and spirit but what about all those suppressed memories or events you have that you shove deep down inside that you never got closure for or just don’t want to deal with.
What is it?
It is working through things from your past. Could be from your childhood, relationship experiences, or events in your life that are not resolved. With them not being resolved it still affects you still to this day.
This is all the stuff we don’t deal with or don’t get closure on. I look at it as if we have an internal suitcase… (I know just follow me) We keep shoving things in our suitcase and it’s starting to overflow. So what are you to do?? You try sitting on top of your suitcase to zip it up.
Thinking we need to carry all that baggage with us throughout our life and eventually, the zipper breaks and everything that you were shoving in it comes flowing out.
When you know your suitcase is full, it’s time to start decluttering inside to make room for things that bring you joy.
Working on your darkness
It may also be known to some as working on your inner child. Although some issues you may have may not have anything to do with your inner child. It can be from any time in your life.
On a molecular level, every organ in your body changes every seven years.
If that is the case I have been 5 different versions of myself.
(1) ages 1-7
(2) ages 8-14
(3) ages 15-21
(4) ages 22-28
(5) ages 29-35
Just by looking at these ages, I can see how different I was in those 7 years. When I look at my past from this perspective I can think of certain things that happened at ages 1-7, 8-14, and so on. Each of those age gaps had a serious impact on me and who I am today.
I may have changed on a molecular level, but I still carry all that baggage.
What are the benefits?
Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.
It is the same when working on your inner self. Behind every negative action, there is a positive reaction. Changing your outlook from negative to positive so it can no longer affect you the way it has in the past.
You are healing yourself from the inside out.
I watched this video on YouTube that had 5 steps to working on your shadow work. His name is Clark Kegley and he references the 3-2-1 method by Ken Wilber. I like the way Clark lays out the steps he does when doing his work, which is similar to Kens. Clark describes the 5 steps as follows:
Think of something you want to work on
Think of something you want to work on. Again it could be the pain of a past relationship. If you are having feelings of worthlessness or if you are seeking validation from others or you are lacking confidence.
There is no rush thinking about what you want to work on. Take some time and think about what could really benefit you from working on it.
I came up with a few questions you can answer to help narrow down your search.
Questions to help find events
Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to find some events to work on.
When I am thinking of _________ what do I think of them?
What major events in my life stand out that affected me in a huge way?
Do I have any anger or resentment towards anyone that is in or used to be in my life?
Invite your former self
All of this you can do verbally or written if you would like to keep a record. Or you may even record yourself.
Invite your former self from that time in your life to have a discussion about the situation that occurred. Let yourself know that you are not here to judge but to understand the situation and come to some kind of closure. Be nice and have no negative self-talk.
Start a conversation
Have a conversation with your former self by asking simple questions. No judgment so negative self-talk. Be patient and kind to yourself. They did not know the things you know now. Take your time do not rush anything.
Questions to ask each event
What can I do to move past this?
Why are you doing this?
What do you want from me?
What is the positive intent you are trying to keep me from?
Am I letting this past trauma hold me back in any way? If yes, Why?
Can I see the growth I have made as a person since this past trauma?
Has this trauma brought good things into my life because of the lessons I have learned?
Am I able to step back from this past trauma with a clear heart?
Can I be unbias about a solution to move forward?
What would I want to tell the person who caused my trauma?
Can I forgive this person or situation within myself?
Am I okay if I never get closure from this?
Listen & acknowledge
Listen to what your former self is saying Understand that again they might not have known the information you know now. Educate them on their actions and decisions. Allow them time to process what is being said and do not make yourself feel guilty.
Making yourself feel guilty about the situation is not going to do anything for you except make the pain you pushed down that much stronger. Look at this from a birds-eye view. You are talking to your former self as a mediator, not a judge and jury. Be kind to yourself, you didn’t know better or you did what you could with what you had.
Now that you have had the conversation with yourself it’s time for you to take what you learned from your former self and go back in time to correct some of the situations.
Let the scene play out in your head or speak it out loud if you need to, but play the scene in your head how you would have liked it to go. Resolve it for yourself and change the narrative. Let it benefit you.
Give yourself the support & validation you did not get from others when you needed it.
After you played out the scene in your favor… Imagine yourself walking through your timeline from being your former self to who you are now. Let yourself know that whatever happened is okay. It does not define you.
No, I am just healing from the inside out… Charlotte. But thanks for noticing!
Don’t blow it off
I know we all have some stuff tucked out deep in our closet and like Eminem said “I am cleaning out my closet”. Declutter that bitch.
I can tell you I overthink a lot of things that happened in my life. A lot of things that I let define who I was. What really helped me was doing this shadow work. Anytime I used to talk about my 5-year abusive relationship and how it ended with him almost raping me. I would bawl my eyes out.
When I wrote that post on my blog about starting over after leaving an abusive relationship that was me working through shit. I bawled my eyes out writing that post because I never told anyone all the shit he did to me. Those 5 years broke me to the point that I thought I was worthless and unloveable. That I was the problem.
It has been about 10 or 11 years now since I left. When I talk about what happened I bawl my eyes out anymore. Why… Because I healed and now focus on my growth. If I think about it long enough I do get teary-eyed, but not for what he did… but for myself. I get emotional thinking that 23/24-year-old me was so brave for finally leaving. She was so strong for knowing her worth. She did the best she could with what she had and somehow she made it work for the better.
That is was makes me emotional about my past. I changed the narrative from what HE did to me and how HE made me feel to… what I did for MYSELF and what I will continue to do for MYSELF. I took the power away from him.
Try doing your own shadow work
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Don’t watch millions of videos and read thousands of books. It is just going to overwhelm you and you won’t do it. It is not a big complex problem. Just remember:
1. Find something you want to work on
2. Invite your former self to a conversation
3. Start the conversation without judgment
4. Listen & Acknowledge
5. Integrate it
It is time to declutter the skeletons in your closet. There is no time like the present to work on healing yourself from the inside out. If you enjoyed this post please comment, like ad share. If you want these posts delivered to your email every Sunday please sign up for the email list. I will have a worksheet in my freebies tab for you to grab if you need a reminder of the steps and the questions to ask yourself. I am rooting for you and your healing!
I have a bunch of journal related content that you might be interested in like:
The Beginners Guide to Journaling
25 simple questions you never ask yourself, but should
Life Audit Questions
How to Start Today – Manifesting the life you want
10 interesting October journal prompts for Self-discovery
World Mental Health Day – Checking In With Yourself
Healing your inner child
Until next time, have a great day!