If you are considering taking the popular advice of doing your shadow work, what if I told you there was something most people are missing from the process?
We all get told about shadow work at some point. “You need to do your shadow work.” “Have you done your shadow work?” Formulated by Carl Jung way back in the early to mid-1900’s the shadow was seen at the entirety of our subconscious, but then later became very focused on the negative parts that we repress or ignore. Called the shadow because of its hidden nature, the thought was that the more we are unaware of what lurks in the hidden parts the more influence it has over our lives. So if you were unaware of low self-esteem then you never would be able to consciously take actions to correct the issue. To not get in your way, you need to know what issues are lurking. This idea has become so popular that it is included in everything from television pop psychology to most witchcraft books.
There are some very obvious benefits to shadow work, such as uncovering issues that are holding you back. These are often the reasons we get caught in repeating patterns and make the same mistakes over and over. So by understanding, for example, that having deep down anger over money issues from your childhood is making saving money now difficult, you can then confront that issue.
Which is all well and good until you start asking how. How do I confront those shadows?
The answer you are going to often get is something like “have you tried journaling?” or maybe meditation? A counselor or therapist would be helpful, but generally, that is when the answers run out. Here is where I am going to suggest the element most people are leaving out.
Study your successes
There is immense power in the study of your successes, and why they were so successful. There is a very high probability of was because of actions you can influence or set in motion. But you will not understand the nuances of those factors without studying them.
For example, one morning might have gone spectacularly well, and you were in a relaxed and cheerful mood when you got to work. Most people might just chalk that up to just waking up in a good mood, but a closer look might find some interesting factors. Perhaps you come to realize that NPR that morning had done a piece on a famous composer, so there had been classical music in your home that morning. Or maybe you *gasp* didn’t check your social media before leaving the bed. It could even be that the cat had knocked over your favorite piece of rose quartz, so you spent a moment just quietly looking at that beautiful stone before moving on with the rest of your day. So many factors at play, but if you can identify the key factors then it becomes something you can replicate.
If you have concluded that saving money is the issue, you can then identify a few times when you made better choices or saved money successfully. From there you can develop a proactive set of guidelines to help you repeat that success over and over. The discovery that a free app rounded up your purchases and invested the small amounts helps you to understand you can be motivated to save if it feels like the money is “doing something”. Or maybe it’s that changing your credit score became a game, and you liked watching the points move when you paid off some of your debt. Or you might come to realize that it was that candle spell you did to change your perspective of what prosperity means. Maybe you went out of your way to donate a few dollars out of every 50 you saved to help kids who were in challenging situations like you were.
What makes this even more powerful is that the successes you have had can then become templates and metaphors for other areas in your life. How can you apply the lessons from one area to another? Was there a specific mindset? A piece of information or technology? How can you use the positive lift of success in one area to motivate you in one that is completely unrelated?
Now for a couple of cautionary notes. It can be easy to assign benefits to one thing when it was another. In my rose quartz example above, you might want to credit the rose quartz itself, but it might have been the quiet few moments you spent in contemplation. It will take some experimentation and testing to determine which it was. I also need to note that none of this is a guarantee. You could do everything right and still not have a good successful day. But isn’t it worth it to increase the odds? What if a little work in this area gave you just one more success in one of your goals per week? Wouldn’t you accept those results?
By studying your successes you will come to a better understanding not just of what you are running from, but how to better move forward. Now I just need a catchy term. Go and do your light work! No, that might get confused for something else. Go and do your brightwork! No, that sounds like a dishwashing soap commercial. Go and do your radiance work! That might have potential.