The shadow side… ever heard of it? It’s the side of ourselves that we are not too comfortable with. The darker side. The side we don’t like to admit we have and sometimes is unconscious to ourselves. We all have a dark side. We all have thoughts and emotions that we’re not so proud of. And they’re an important part of us.

When we act from our shadow side, we’re usually reacting. We’re not actually in charge. When you remain unaware of your shadow side, you’re bound to become controlled by it eventually.

Embracing our shadow side involves taking an honest look within and accepting what we find. It can be a hard pill to swallow. But doing shadow work will always lead us to a happier state of being. It allows us to be completely honest with who we really are and what our truth is. Learning how to integrate our shadow into our life is challenging work but ultimately allows us to lead a more fulfilling life.

I bet you’re asking “But Heather, how do we start the integration process?!”

The first step is to figure out what you have been avoiding.

We all have things that we put off dealing with. Sometimes they’re things we are fascinated with but would never tell anyone about. All of these things have a lot to say about us. Do you avoid confrontation with a loved one? Talking about money? Being honest about some area of your life where you feel weak or might need help? Look deep within and see what you learn. Look for patterns or similarities in various situations in your life. (Some might have existed for years or even longer!)

Instead of hiding from all these things that scare us, maybe it’s time to find the root cause of them? Things that we repress deep inside are usually what creates our shadows. The aspects of you that you hide very deep are still there though – we just tend to put a band-aid on them and think they will go away. Well, guess what? They don’t! Sooner or later they rear their ugly head…each time the bigger and the scary the shadow seems to be.

We dissociate from what we disapprove of. This creates a split within the ourselves that we call the conscious and the subconscious. This self-preservation instinct of dividing ourselves into conscious and subconscious is in fact our first act of self-rejection. In order to become whole again, we need to see and accept the aspects of ourselves that we disowned and denied and rejected. This is what shadow work is all about.

Shadow work is nothing more than the process of making the unconscious conscious and the unacceptable, acceptable. And the integration of unconsciousness leads to complete and total awareness.

When we own these parts of ourselves and bring them to light, there is nothing more to be afraid of or to hide away. We are simply able to live in the present moment and blossom to our greatest potential.