“Do I have to?”
“I’d rather not.”
“I’m not a fan.”
These are all responses I’ve heard from clients when I’ve invited them to go deeper into their psyches. Few people are eager to explore the depths of their own subconscious. I’ve noticed that the discomfort is most pronounced for those who’ve experienced childhood trauma. Generally, people agree to take the journey because their suffering has been so intense that they’re willing to try anything to find relief.
I have so much admiration for these brave souls. I also know that the suffering they experience now is worse than the journey into shadow. I know that the anticipation of doing the work is worse than actually doing the work. I know that the reward is well worth the effort. So, while I respect the hesitation, I don’t let them back out.
It makes sense to be afraid of what lurks in your subconscious. It’s unknown and mysterious and impossible to predict or control. Exploring this dimension of the mind with another person–a therapist or guide–requires intense vulnerability. You don’t know what will emerge and be revealed and, of course, you may fear being judged, criticized or looking like a fool. There’s also the fear of reliving terrible experiences and activating unpleasant emotions.
It makes complete sense to be trepidatious about doing shadow work.
It helps to keep in mind that the discomfort is generated by parts of you. These parts need to be witnessed. They need reassurance and support. These parts are usually quite young and/or vulnerable. They feel helpless and scared. While these parts may be loudest right now, they’re not the only parts of you. Shadow work is an invitation to get curious with yourself, to offer yourself compassion and to welcome in and grow a more grounded and confident energy. In this way, you shine a light on your subconscious. You become more aware of what’s been lurking beneath the surface and you start to realize that it’s not as scary as you thought. You understand how powerful you truly are.
Of course, that doesn’t mean shadow work is easy or pleasant. You have to plod through and clean up some muck before you can find relief. Doing so with intention means the job gets done. So many people simply tolerate periods of unpleasantness only to find themselves right back in the same place further down the road because they never actually healed anything.
Life is never going to stop being challenging at times, but the more you do the work, the easier it gets to deal with.
Conversely, if you choose to avoid the darkness it will find a way to process. This may manifest as perpetuating unhealthy relational or behavioral patterns. It may manifest as mood disruptions, such as anxiety or depression. It may also manifest physically as ailments or illness.
In other words, even if you avoid your shadow, your shadow will find you.
Did you know that human beings share energy? Being in the presence of a calm, grounded person can help you feel that way too. This is one of the fundamental ways I help people. I also teach them how to calm their own nervous systems. Then I guide them through a process of introspection that leads to expanded awareness, emotional healing and true self love. I do this with compassion, empathy and deep respect.
I started doing my own shadow work as a child without realizing it. I had no choice. Abandonment, neglect, abuse and bullying forced me to confront life’s difficulties early. As a highly sensitive and intuitive individual, it was natural for me to go deep (my natal sun is conjunct Pluto, my Mercury is in Scorpio… it’s in my astrological chart in various ways). I’ve been called to explore the depths not only for my own growth and healing, but in service to others as well. It’s why I’m here and it’s my passion. I love accompanying and supporting people through darkness!
Whether you explore shadow on your own or with support, remember… it’s much scarier to let your wounds go unhealed.
Don’t be afraid of shadow work.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide and a supportive companion. An artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and with others through shadow work. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.