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Shadow Work: Get To Know & Integrate Your Dark Side

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inner shadow work image

We need to be whole to live a fulfilling life. Yet, our shadow work represents the disconnected parts of our psyche, hindering our spiritual journey. And, at the spark of the moment, our unflattering past may emerge to tarnish this picture-perfect view of ourselves because, our shadows can go on autopilot mode, operating behind the scenes and impacting our relationships.

The Shadow: Home for Our Suppressed Traits

Did you grow up knowing that men are not supposed to cry? Or, do you view outspoken people as nosy? Well, as a human being, when you are overcome by grief or sadness, one quick release is to cry. It relieves the tension in you. Plus, those around you appreciate that you feel their grief too.

Likewise, an outspoken person can be a great leader if they use this trait to command authority for social justice or development. But, if you are born an outspoken person, and you relegate this positive trait, you lose out on living a fulfilled life.

The two examples above demonstrate what happens when we relegate any trait, whether positive or negative, that we disassociate from our ego. These traits never go away. They lie dormant in our shadows and may crop up in your life when you least expect them. More so, others can pinpoint those traits in you even without you doing anything to provoke it. For example, you may portray yourself as a composed person, only to throw tantrums at the slightest provocation. That shows there is unresolved anger lying dormant in your dark side.

Origin of the Term Shadow

The term “shadow” originates from the Jungian psychological model. According to Carl Jung’s theory, we all have an ego, which is the center of our personalities. Anything that you disassociate from your ego ends up in the shadow or your dark side. Similarly, if there is a trait that you dislike about yourself, chances are, it is suppressed in your shadow.

So How Do You Embrace Your Shadow?

inner shadow image

At a point when the shadow is working against us, it may destroy us. Hence, there is a need to embrace our dark side and use it to nourish our lives. But how do we achieve that?

Past vs. Present Approach to Embracing the Shadow

Now, history has records of ancient Greeks worshipping the shadow as an autonomous goddess or god. The Greeks used this approach to integrate the dark side into their egos. Not so with the 21st-century modern person. Today’s pressures from social media, family, and friends make us neglect our past wounds or negative impulses.

Many of us are too concerned about protecting our self-image. In the process, we deny that the shadow exists in the first place. Yet, cyberbullies and close friends are quick to pinpoint these shadows in others but never acknowledge their own. An issue of seeing a splinter in another person’s eye and not seeing the log in your own eyes, right?

Other Quick Tips to Embrace Your Shadow

  1. Have a calm mind. Life stress interferes with our attitudes towards the shadow. Yet, a collected person will find reason even in the most brutal aspects of their lives. Yoga, meditation, and crystal healing can help in achieving the right mindset for shadow work.
  2. Practice self-love. It will prepare you mentally to deal with the demons.
  3. Seek the truth, not validation. The dark side may have aspects of your life that are too painful.  Seek to understand the truth instead of wanting to feel special.
  4. Journalize the process.

Benefits of Shadow Work – Eliminating the Projection Defense Mechanism

When we repress our shadows, we project those feelings unto others. For example, if you view an overweight person as lazy, or find an outspoken person irritating, chances are you are struggling with weight management or a level of rudeness in your life.  Otherwise, if you were okay with your current or past weight, someone else’s oversize will not bother you.  See, this projection happens unconsciously, as a way to defend your ego.

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Shadow work unmasks our dark side and integrates it into our current life. It is about working with your disowned parts to bring out the creative, authentic, and energetic side in you. And, the benefits are tremendous.

Here are three key benefits: –

#1: Better Relationships

Integrating your dark side will ground and make you feel whole. Once you embrace your shadow, it is easier to embrace that of your spouse, child, friend, or workmate. In turn, you are less triggered by other person’s unpleasant behaviors. Even so, the grounding effect opens up channels of communication, hence improving how you relate with others.

#2: Clarity of Perception

Our perception of self determines how we view the world. If skewed, you will use the same lens of perception to sieve ideas, thoughts, and feelings from others. In contrast, integrating our shadows gives us a whole, true picture of ourselves. This realistic assessment of self results in self-awareness crucial for spiritual growth.

#3: Raised Energy and Better Health

For as long as you ignore your shadow, it becomes a burden that you carry each day. You know, you are cautious with the way you look, what you say, or how you conduct yourself, not to reveal those suppressed traits.

Integrating the dark side frees us from this daily struggle.

We discover a reservoir of energy that we never thought existed. In turn, we can focus on self-care routines that lead to better physical health.

Conclusion

We all have a dark side that we often want to ignore. The dark side could be the skeletons in your closet that you never want to admit. Or, positive traits like empathy, gentleness, humility that you feel make you look weak. Worse still, it could be demons from your past traumas, lingering in your present life like a shadow. We avoid these demons so as not to feel ashamed, guilty, or fearful. Yet, accepting and integrating this dark side into your current life could unlock a life of fulfillment and self-enlightenment. It is never easy to confront our shadows. But, it is worth your effort.

Personal Development

What is Ego Death? How and Why Does It Happen?

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What is Ego Death Image

Humans associate death with darkness, sorrow, and pain. It is just something many people are scared of. However, ego death goes the opposite way. The death of your ego comes with enlightenment, self-exploration, and going beyond the glass ceiling.

In simpler terms, the ego is the sense of self typically developed in earlier ages. It is a biological tool that helps us understand ourselves as separate beings. The problem appears when the ego takes on a level of programming that begins to impede the quality of life we live. This is why many people believe it needs to die.

But first:

What is Ego Death?

Many people think that ego death happens when we strip ourselves of the ego and live without it. No, the ego cannot die. What happens is that it becomes submissive to the awareness and direction of our higher selves so that it no longer controls our lives. The experience temporarily and instantaneously goes beyond and above our identities. By shifting your awareness above the perspective of the ego, you begin to realize that you are not the things you have identified with before.

The death of your ego comes with much self-awakening and peace; you want to experience it. It is one of the most beautiful experiences you could have if you truly understand your spiritual path. Such an experience, however, may feel horrific for people who do not understand their spiritual path or people who resist the experience.

Why Seek It?

Ego defense mechanisms image

People are now going out of their way to experience ego death. It has become part of the spiritual journey for many people.

Here are some reasons to seek an ego death experience:

#1: Improved self-control

People often think that ego death is just for people unsatisfied with their mental wellness. Even if you are confident with your state, its demise can change your perception, eventually leading you to much clarity and success.

#2: Easier time breaking even

Our perception and identification limit us from going to other levels. Our ego keeps us in a mindset that limits us. It may feel like we are living in an unknown shell. Detaching yourself from the ego or shrinking it will allow you to crush your current sense of self that limits your abilities.

#3: Acquire a new you

We often have a rigid way of identifying ourselves. You will easily break even if you realize you differ from the sum of the labels you previously put on yourself. You will be in a much more powerful position to question things you believe in and go out of your way to seek peace and clarity. It is an excellent tool for breaking world constructs such as race or religion, which are often deeply rooted in mind and consciousness.

Stages of Ego Death

The death of the ego is different for everyone. This all starts from the triggers of the first stages and later the intense stages before you fully settle into the awakening. The first triggers may differ, but as the experience progresses, the stages become identical.

 Here are the stages you will most likely go through:

Stage 1: Spiritual awakening

The ego is deeply rooted in your spiritual being. The first step is your awakening from the ego’s power over you.

Stage 2: Dark night of the soul

In this second stage, you seek to understand things. This is after you accept the awakening that comes with the first stage. This stage is characterized by questioning things that now appear different from what they did before. It can be a confusing stage as many things now start revealing themselves to you.

Stage 3: Exploration and curiosity

In the third stage, you explore more to fill the void in your soul and being. This stage allows you to live in a space of more peace and enlightenment.

Stage 4: Soul growth and enlightenment

This stage allows you to settle in your newly found peace and awakening. Here, you have explored yourself profoundly and now know more about your true self. You will realize that you have already let go of many of your old patterns and habits. This stage has no fighting and battling with your ego, as you already have your new true identity.

How to Achieve Ego Death?

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

You need to understand some things before you seek to kill your ego. For instance, why do you want to experience it? Understand that a spiritual ego is not something casual. You want to go in entirely understanding why you want to do it and the consequences of taking the path.

Many people intentionally seek ego death. Deliberately seeking it can be dangerous; proceed with caution. Ensure you are ready for it before you dive right in. If you are sure of your intentions, you can take the paths that lead to the death of your ego.

With all this imperatively said and done, you can proceed and trigger an ego death. Here are some of the ways people do it:

  • Attending spiritual retreats and workshops that guide you through it;
  • Performing specific types of breathing exercises and meditation practices;
  • Following the teachings of spiritual teachers rooted in spiritual awakening;
  • Entering altered states of consciousness, which may involve meditation, dancing, chanting, and other mystical paths; 
  • Getting involved in mystical, spiritual traditions that offer pathways to ego death.      

What Does the Death of Ego Feel Like? 

You might want to know what ego death feels like before you go for it. Your feelings will definitely be intense. It may feel horrific or exciting, or an alternation between the two. People often experience both extremes while undergoing this death.

What Next? 

After an ego death comes rebirth. A new you will be born with no barriers that limit your journey and abilities. Such death powerfully awakens the mind making your life change forever.

Ego death is not the end of spiritual awakening but rather a new beginning of deeper purpose and meaning.

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Personal Development

Self-limiting Beliefs: How to Overcome Fear and Break Our Limitations

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Earlier in life, I was always afraid of senior career positions. I used to apply for junior and entry-level jobs even after many years of employment because I didn’t believe I could handle the senior ranks. Yet each time a senior position became vacant, I was the first person the boss would contact. They saw my potential, but I could never see it because of my self-limiting beliefs. 

Eventually, I would find a reason to decline the promotion. What are you struggling with?

Believe it or not, we all battle with self-limiting beliefs. Are you fearful of signing up for that mortgage because you’re so scared you might not pay it fully? Or is committing to a relationship an uphill task for you?

In this article, I will discuss this fear within us and share practical tips for overcoming these self-limiting beliefs. 

What are Self-limiting Beliefs?

Fact: There are no limits to what you can achieve except for the limits you set in your mind. And this is what sets humans apart. Some people become iconic leaders while others amass massive wealth, yet some still struggle in life. This is one way of looking at it. For you and me, think of the small challenges you encounter in life. Are you truly incapable of handling them, or are you just afraid of trying and failing? 

Self-limiting beliefs are self-developed thoughts, consciously or subconsciously, that we use to convince ourselves that we can’t do something because we are afraid of failing or getting hurt. Consequently, we don’t even allow ourselves to try. Such limiting thoughts are one of the biggest preventers of achieving our goals. And that’s why we need to learn to control and eventually overcome them. So how do we do that?

Practical Steps to Overcome Self-limiting Beliefs

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#1: Identify Your Limiting Belief(s)

What are you so afraid of and why? 

  • Are you scared of getting married because your father abused your mom? 
  • Are you afraid of getting kids because your parents abandoned you when you were little? 
  • Are you afraid of management positions at work because you feel voiceless?

Identifying your self-made limits is your first step to overcoming them. You will need to use your intelligence and accept vulnerability, more like healing your inner child.

#2: Work On Your Confidence

There are several ways to develop self-confidence. The easiest is the use of positive affirmations. The idea is to re-condition your mind into believing what you had otherwise categorized as impossible. You could also apply the law of attraction. Anything you focus your mind on without a shred of doubt eventually comes to be. If you constantly think about boldness, confidence, and assertion, you eventually become bolder, more confident, and more assertive.  

Self-confidence enables us to move out of our comfort zone. We are no longer afraid to try because we believe in our potential. And even if you fail, you believe you can win tomorrow. Besides, you become your own cheerleader and no longer seek approval from others. That’s how powerful we become when we are confident from the inside.  

#3: Set New Goals

Be realistic and set achievable targets. However, always have one clear goal at all times that you’re working towards. That goal should be the most significant on your list. Also, note that big goals are good, but they can demotivate you. Divide these goals into smaller tasks that you can easily achieve. 

For every achievement, your mind registers a win and naturally handles the next task with ease. This way, you find yourself accomplishing tasks you never imagined were possible and consequently become unstoppable in achieving your lifelong dreams. 

#4: Challenge Your Thoughts

Why do you give yourself bad labels such as “I am stupid, slow, worthless, ugly, useless,” etc.? Is it because someone in your past called you that? Did they really have a solid basis to give you that label? How well do they know you? Have they seen the woman or man you have become lately? 

Asking your inner self such questions helps you to look at the other side of the coin. For example, just because my skin has acne doesn’t mean I’m ugly. It’s just one of the many stages in life. And just because I have mobility challenges doesn’t mean I am useless. I still have the brain and hands to write my next bestseller. Challenge your thoughts, whether good or bad, and you will realize that not every gospel you hear is factual. 

#5: Develop an Alternative Plan

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We don’t have control over our limiting beliefs because they provide a soft fallback. We don’t take risks because we fear getting hurt or hurting others. Say, for example, you’re afraid of getting kids because you’re scared you’ll never be a good mom. Instead of dwelling on being single for the rest of your life, how about you start accommodating other kids in your home and see how well you nurture them? 

You can request your siblings or friends to drop off their toddlers over the weekend and dedicate your energy to looking after them just as if they were your own. After a few months, your natural motherly instincts will start to kick in, and who knows, you might start looking at kids differently. 

If you’re afraid of public speaking because you feel invisible or you’re afraid your voice is not good enough, how about you start by recording podcasts?

Or, if you constantly feel worthless, how about starting a small project that gives you a sense of belonging? Like donating your coffee to a homeless person every morning. Or helping an elderly neighbor water their flowers every weekend. 

The Bottom Line

It’s very easy to develop self-limiting beliefs, especially with a rough childhood or a traumatic past. Our mind is constantly working to protect our fragile ego from getting hurt again. However, the sooner you realize how much you have been missing in your quest to play safe, the sooner you need to break these limiting thoughts and redefine yourself. Your potential starts and ends in your mind. Dare to dream again and develop unshakable confidence because only you can do it. 

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Personal Development

8 Signs You Are a Free Spirit Who Can Never Be Tamed

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If you are a free spirit, chances are you struggle to fit in your family or friend’s circles. That is normal. See, as a true spirit, you value your freedom over complacency. You would rather dictate the terms of your life than conform to societal norms.

Well, this nonconformist attitude to life is never free of cost. You may have to get out of your comfort zone, let go of your societal security, look different, and even suffer harm. But, how do you know if you are a free spirit and not just a rebellious person?

This article will discuss the 8 common signs to guide you.

But first:

Understanding the Free Spirit

A free spirit starts from the mind. You live free of domination from any oppressive thoughts, ideas, or notions imposed on you by others. Unlike rebellion, true freedom is about respectfully liberating your mind and body, to coexist with others at peace.

Likewise, a free spirit will not replace one oppressive thought with another. Instead, this person seeks the truth and lives by it. For example, many celebrities that claim to be free spirits are doing so superficially. They may still ascribe to certain notions that are oppressive to their audience. Like the idea of going organic but allowing the use of plastics from a certain brand.

The Signs

free spirit sigs image

If you are a true free spirit, then you can relate to most of the signs below: –

#1: Strong Desire for Freedom

Did you ever quit a well-paying job to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle that pays less than half of your salary? Your strong desire to be free and set your lifestyle standards indicates a truly free-spirited person. See, free-spirited people make lifestyle decisions that prioritize their freedoms.

#2: Abhor Restrictions

In line with a desire for freedom, free spirits despise any restrictions imposed by others in their lives. If you are one, you could be struggling with committing to a deadline, target, or relationship.

And for the career persons, free spirits hop from one organization to another, dreading to be confined at one company for too long. Here, the free spirit struggles to commit to another person or purpose but looks forward to waking up to new challenges or surprises.  

#3: Welcome Challenges

A free spirit encounters problems like any other person. However, they see the problems as new challenges, not threats. Consequently, a free spirit gets excited, not worried when facing challenges.

#4: Spontaneous

A free spirit comes up with rushed decisions that change the course of their lifestyles forever. For example, they may wake up and decide to shift to a new neighborhood, enroll in the gym, or make a swift financial investment. Or, they may change their minds about getting married, having kids, or setting up their businesses. 

These persons hold no attachment to anyone or anything, hence appearing as unserious. As a result, others find it hard to understand why this person can’t stay consistent. 

#5: Unconventionality

Free spirits do things their way. They question any societal expectations and are the last persons to adopt them. Likewise, they are never intimidated by those around them. Instead, they stick to their decisions regardless of how foreign they sound to the masses. 

#6: Insatiable

A free spirit is insatiable. Your goals are different, settling for a better or unique lifestyle from the one your peers are content with. For example, your dream when clearing college was never a well-paying job, the latest car, and a home with kids. Instead, you think of opportunities that will allow you to try new things.

For example, you could be a die-hard globetrotter even though you may not have the means to travel at the moment. You are the kind of person who is content with living from a suitcase for years as you travel around the world.

#7: Great Achievers, Innovators, Dreamers

Now, a free spirit may appear spontaneous and unserious with life, but they have a clear perspective of what they want to achieve. This person comes up with fresh ideas that promise to solve world challenges. And it is the excitement of this new challenge that fuels their desire to achieve the set goals.

wild and free image

#8: Relentless

Free spirits always seek ways of how to make the impossibilities in their lives possible. For example, they will question why it takes three days and not a day for an online shopping order to arrive at their doorstep. And, they will use the latest facts to question current theories.

In turn, these persons never quit. They appear stubborn, holding on to their ideas until they get the solution they were hoping for.

Living a Fulfilling Life as a Free Spirit

Note that, a free spirit is the best candidate for achieving spiritual awakening. This person is intent on soul searching and questions their existence. Still, the life of a free-spirited person can be a lonely one. If you suspect that you are a free spirit, here are a few tips to live a fulfilling lifestyle:

  • Spend more time outdoors. For example, taking part in dance competitions in the open gives you a chance to free your mind and release any stress buildup.
  • Reconnect with your inner child by working with children. They have great imaginations and love exploring and testing their boundaries. Plus, they enjoy doing role plays.
  • Explore a creative career path like preparing exotic dishes and painting on a canvas.
  • Most free-spirited persons are empathetic, considerate, kind, and loving. In turn, they can be victims of emotional abuse. Protect your emotional wellbeing by setting boundaries on who you interact with or what you explore beyond your comfort zone.

Conclusion

Anyone with a free spirit has the untamable spirit of a wolf. You always want to run free beyond the confines of family or society. You also have a tendency to oppose the normal social rule, being overly independent, and never subscribing to others’ rules. That’s why most free spirits are seen as rebellious.

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