Shadow work is going really well. I mentioned before that I was having a hard time trusting the process, but I am beginning to see a pattern in how my psyche reveals answers to me. It’s pretty consistent, so I am beginning to trust that. More importantly, I am seeing results almost instantly.
This morning I was irritable for no apparent reason. I had time, so I went to my room and did shadow work to see from where the source of my irritability stemmed. Within minutes, a memory of my father was revealed to me. He used to tease my sister and me by calling us silly names and rubbing his huge hands up and down our faces. It used to drive me nuts. Apparently, it was the first time I felt irritated, and I was able to trace my irritability back to a sense of powerlessness and guilt.
When my father teased me, I was powerless to stop him. Standing at six feet four inches, my father towered over us children. He was otherwise gentle, and I never felt fear around him, but when he got it into his head to tease us, he was relentless and he did not stop until we got really mad at him. I would say awful things to him like “I hate you,” and so my irritability around the teasing was mixed with a terrible sense of guilt because I knew those words hurt him. As a child, I blamed myself for allowing myself to get so upset that I would say something so awful to him, so I learned to suppress my feelings of irritability.
I changed the memory by talking to my inner child; who I believe was around seven or eight. I told her that it was perfectly normal to feel irritated when someone did something you didn’t want them to do. Then I asked her what she thought would be a good thing to do about that. She said she should walk away. I told her that would be a great idea, but that telling our father that we didn’t like what he was doing might be a better idea. So, we talked with our father. He explained that he was just having fun with us, and I told him that I understood but it would be better if he listened to one of my stories and told me a story of his own, or played a board game or something. He said he understood, and then he and my inner child hugged.
At that point, I opened my eyes. Only fifteen minutes had gone by. Usually, it takes an hour to do shadow work. I wrote in my journal and went upstairs to join my family. I was amazed at the change in my attitude. Usually when I am irritable it lasts all day, and no matter how I suppress and try to ignore it it just persists. This time, however, my irritability was gone. I felt annoyed or irritated by some of the things my six-year-old did, but I got over it a lot faster, and the generalized irritability that I have suffered from pretty much most of my life has vanished.
Another thing that I’ve noticed since beginning shadow work is a sense of joy. I haven’t felt carefree and happy in a very long time. This evening I danced around the kitchen and dining room washing and putting away dishes. I was allowing myself to just enjoy life and to appreciate my ability to dance and to listen to music. I realized that I have a lot to be grateful for, and I’ve decided that I will show more appreciation for what I have been given in my life.
That is what shadow work has done for me. It has allowed me to bring the light back into my life. By going to the source of my emotional distress, I have been liberated from years of chronic irritability, uncertainty, hopelessness, and the fundamental belief that I am worthless. No amount of positive focus, or redirection of my negative thoughts could have produced the results of these four attempts at shadow work have produced. It’s a wonderful feeling.