How to Love Your Shadow | Self-Love & Shadow Work

Mar 01, 2022

What if instead of fighting your demons you put them on the payroll?

Okay now, hear me out. 

As humans, we tend to fragment ourselves - separating the parts that we are ashamed of and have become embarrassed by. This process of accepting some parts but damning others is what begins to eat away at us - keeping us from ever being whole. 


The truth is:

That behind those hidden, locked away doors is the secret to your true strength and power. Each aspect that you have been fighting or repressing has the ability to help you succeed once reframed. All the characteristics or traits that we deny in ourselves become part of our shadow. The process of diving deep into the roots of what is buried is called shadow work.


How shadow work works: 

Slowly, peel back layers of fear with compassion and patience. Healing is not linear and we revisit the same lessons until they are learned. Since we inherited the majority of our guilt programming from our parents, organized religion, and society's cultural standards, thinking about where our belief systems came from a great place to start. Ask yourself, “Is this my belief or is it really someone else’s?”

There is a good chance that most of the criticism you endured early in life was merely the projections of your family members. They passed down their unhealed trauma onto you, causing you to be shameful about aspects of yourself that may not necessarily be bad at all. Our childhood determines our comfort zone, and we unconsciously will create the same situations in our adult life if it goes without being recognized. We gravitate towards the environments we are familiar with, even if they are dysfunctional or even dangerous, just because it is what we know.  


Take some time to look back at your family patterns:

See what behaviors keep repeating. This is the study of epigenetics and can be quite liberating to see that it did not begin with you. The best part is as soon as you become aware of what has not worked for generations, you are now in a powerful position to change it. No longer will you be bound to the ancestral karma and carrying the guilt of the past - you can be free of it by making different intentional choices. 

Radical ownership of your experience is extremely empowering. Once you can shift the statement “that wasn’t me,” into “it’s all me” you can become the hero of your own story. Until that happens, you will carry the energy of the victim. If you are struggling in this area, working with a spiritual coach can provide you with the support system needed to feel empowered and accountable. 


Let go of the blame game. 

So much of your behavior was inherited through your DNA, being raised in a specific environment, and societal expectations. Give yourself a break and see that much of your experience was on auto-pilot or survival mode. The only way to liberate yourself from this is to release the guilt and forgive yourself. It is only when we accept all aspects of ourselves that we can feel happy and complete. 


Why Self-Love is important:

Self-love is not easy, especially if you did not feel safe at home. You may have felt rejected, abandoned, or have self-worth issues if you were raised in an unsupportive or hostile home environment. The best news is that toxic environments create exceptionally strong, independent, and resilient people. If you can see how your challenges are the reasons why you are strong you will become unstoppable. Who would you be without those defining moments of conflict?

Feeling love for yourself as an adult can be extremely daunting if you did not feel it as a child. I have found that EFT Tapping is an effective practice for rewiring the neuroplasty in your mind to overcome self-love blocks and past programming. 


It is time to appreciate yourself like you appreciate others.

We are often our own harshest critic, never allowing ourselves to feel good until we have reached a specific goal or achievement. The problem is that when we reach that milestone, there is a good chance we will still feel empty because we never cultivated that feeling of gratitude along the way. You have the choice to feel good now by allowing yourself to see how far you have come and make the journey of life much more enjoyable. 


How do I love my darkness and put my demons to work?

Ultimately, our shadow is the protector that keeps us safe. See how behaving in a certain way may have been shunned, but ultimately kept us from being in real danger. I’ll give an example from my own experience, as I often felt anger and had a capacity for violence. Although I used to suppress this side - deemed unladylike - as something “other” I now know it was my form of self-preservation and inner warrior. This was the result of an unstable upbringing, so I had to become my own protector. 


What once brought me shame now makes me laugh.

Do you know anyone who has turned a miniature ironing board into a weapon? Well - now you do - because I have. It is one of the many unassuming objects I have used in retaliation that feels like many lives ago. I have the peace of knowing that I can defend myself when needed, but no longer need that reaction to be attached to a hair-trigger. Shadow work will help you create distance with automatic impulses, so that they may be called upon when really needed. 


Reflection, accountability, and compassion

Will guide you into a space of integration, loving all of your parts and the beautiful being that you have become. 


Self-Love Affirmations: 

(Say each morning and at night before you go to bed for best results)


"I love, honor, and accept myself fully and completely."

"I did the best that I could at that time, I forgive myself and am ready to step into my power." 

"I release all resistance and clear any blocks preventing me from becoming who I want to be."


Love + Light,

Tinsley Hammond
Founder of Tinsley Tarot


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