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Is Shadow Work Dangerous? Here’s Why Some Think So

So you’re thinking of doing shadow work but have looked around online and aren’t sure if it’s right for you. After all, it sounds a bit intense.

You’re starting to wonder if shadow work is dangerous.

I’ll unpack common concerns about shadow work, why some people find it scary, and (hopefully) help you feel more confident in your decision to give it a go.

Or not, if that’s what you decide. That’s cool, too.

What is shadow work?

Shadow work is the process of owning up to the aspects of ourselves that we tend to deny or repress.

It’s about coming to terms with the parts of ourselves that we don’t like or that make us feel uncomfortable, and it can be a difficult and challenging process.

It typically involves exploring our dark side – the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden away – and can be a very confronting and painful experience.

For that reason, it’s not uncommon for people to feel scared or even terrified when they first start doing shadow work.

Profile of a woman and her shadow against a blank wall
Is shadow work dangerous?

Why is shadow work scary?

There are a few reasons why shadow work can be so scary.

For starters, it can be difficult to face up to the parts of ourselves that we’d rather keep hidden away. It can be tempting to deny or ignore our shadow side, but doing so only keeps us trapped in a cycle of self-sabotage and self-destructive behaviors.

Moreover, shadow work can often involve confronting our deepest fears and insecurities. We may have to face past traumas or come to terms with things we’ve been trying to repress.

This can be an emotionally challenging experience, and it’s not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed with fear.

Another reason shadow work can be scary is that it can require us to make major life changes. We may have to let go of unhealthy relationships, change our jobs or even move to a new city.

These changes can be daunting, and it’s natural to feel scared or uncertain when making them.

A woman puts her hands on her face and has a frightened expression. The title reads Why is shadow work scary? The URL reads soberish.co
Why is shadow work scary?

What does shadow work feel like?

There’s no universal experience when it comes to shadow work. How it “feels” largely depends on what kind of baggage you bring to your practice.

Unpacking deeply-rooted pain and trauma can feel uncomfortable and exhausting. Some aspects of shadow work feel overwhelming and leave you feeling wiped out.

On the flip side, shadow work can also feel like a relief. Some people describe the process as a lightening like something heavy has been lifted off their spirit.

It’s not uncommon to feel a mixture of extremes. You may feel scared one moment and curious the next. You may feel like you’re in over your head, but then find moments of unexpected peace.

What’s important is allowing yourself to feel whatever comes up for you during shadow work. Don’t try to push away the negative emotions – they are an important part of the process.

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What does shadow work mean spiritually?

There is no one answer to this question as it depends on your individual beliefs and worldview.

For some people, shadow work is a way to connect with their spirituality. It’s an opportunity to explore the parts of themselves that they normally keep hidden away; in doing so, they may find a deeper connection to their spiritual practice.

For others, shadow work may not have any spiritual implications. It may simply be a way to work through personal issues and become a more self-aware and well-rounded individual.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide spiritually what shadow work means for you. If you’re interested in exploring this aspect of the practice, many resources are available to help you get started.

Here are a few books on shadow work you might enjoy:

Is shadow work dark magic?

No, shadow work is not dark magic. It’s a psychological process that can be used for personal growth and healing.

While shadow work can be confronting and challenging, it’s not intended to harm anyone. The goal of shadow work is to help you become your best self.

If you need clearer confirmation, speak with your religious or spiritual advisor and have them weigh in on the religious/spiritual implications of doing shadow work. Whereas there is nothing inherently “dark” about it, your faith leader may advise you differently.

A graphic of a black cauldron rests below the title Is Shadow Work Dark Magic?
Is shadow work dark magic?

Risks of doing Shadow Work

While shadow work can be a very positive and transformative experience, it’s important to know the potential risks involved.

As mentioned previously, shadow work can be emotionally challenging. You may have to face traumas or difficult past experiences, which can be tough to handle. If you’re not careful, shadow work can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and even traumatized.

It’s crucial to approach shadow work cautiously and go at your own pace. If you feel overwhelmed or triggered, take a break or seek professional help.

For grappling with severe trauma, it’s worth finding a mental health professional who can safely guide you through the process.

Another risk of shadow work is that it can lead to significant changes in your life. This can be positive, but it can also be scary and uncertain. If you’re not ready for change, shadow work may not be right for you.

It’s important to consider your goals and intentions before embarking on shadow work. What are you hoping to achieve? What changes are you willing to make? If you’re unsure, it may be best to wait until you’re ready.

Finally, it’s important to remember that shadow work is not a quick fix. It’s a gradual process that requires time, patience, and commitment. There are no shortcuts – only hard work and dedication.

If you’re looking for an instant solution or an easy way out, shadow work is not for you.

Safe Ways To Do Shadow Work

There are many different ways to approach shadow work, and finding a method that feels safe and comfortable for you is important.

One way to safely do shadow work is to keep a journal. This can be a great way to process your thoughts and emotions without feeling overwhelmed. You can write as much or as little as you like, and you can go back and read your entries whenever you need to.

If you’re unsure where to start, many journal prompts are available online. You can also try free-writing when you write without stopping or planning what you will say. I’ve got 65 completely free shadow work prompts available that you are welcome to explore.

Another way to do shadow work is to talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, therapist, or coach. This can be a great way to gain insights and learn how to find your shadow self. It’s important to find someone who will listen without judgment and who won’t try to fix you.

Finally, there are many shadow work exercises available online.

These can be a great way to get started, but you must be selective about which ones you do. Not all exercises are created equal, and some may even be harmful.

If you’re unsure about an exercise, it’s best to consult with a professional before doing it.

When done safely and responsibly, shadow work can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth.

Access should not be a barrier to help.

Soberish is proudly sponsored by BetterHelp. If you have tried (and failed) to find a therapist with the knowledge and background to help you navigate your specific issues, try BetterHelp. Learn more about my counseling journey with BetterHelp or visit their website below.

an open journal on a bed, with a hand writing an entry wearing several rings. The title reads Is shadow work dangerous?
Is shadow work dangerous? PIN

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