updated March 9, 2021
This post is for you if you…
- are an introverted coach (or desire to be one)
- understand that in order to have a successful business, you must do inner work first
- are looking to boost your confidence
The Purpose of This Post
It took me years to understand why I wasn’t getting anywhere with my business. I had dreams, ideas and grand notions that I would be a successful entrepreneur and quit my job in a month. Believing I was putting in maximum effort and all the hard work necessary, I couldn’t quite figure out why it was taking me soooooo long to get to where I wanted to be.
And if I am completely honest with myself, in the span of 3 years, I had barely moved forward at all. But it sure felt like I had been through a battle, and I had the emotional and mental wounds to prove it.
It wasn’t until I took a good, hard look at myself that I realized that if I was truly serious about creating a successful business that I loved (and that was sustainable long term), it was necessary to go inward. Into the deep, dark shadows of myself and get acquainted with the parts of me I had tried to keep hidden for so long.
The purpose of my post is to discuss what a shadow is and why it’s so important for you to uncover yours in order to create and run a successful business.
What is Your Shadow Self?
Carl Jung defines the shadow as the part of you that you deny, hide and refuse to acknowledge. The side you most often project onto other people to take the blame off of yourself, it is essential you not only acknowledge your shadow but also accept it if you want to move forward with success.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”
Why Shadow Work is Necessary to Unlock Big Biz Success
Let’s play a game. I want you to go through this list of words and pay very close attention to the reaction of your physical body as you do.
Now, do the same for the next list of words.
- people pleaser
Did you feel a difference?
If you had any uncomfortable reaction at all to the second list, you have just met your shadow. And as much as you want to deny that you embody any of those things, you can’t if you want to effortlessly sign new, premium clients consistently and build a successful business.
When you ignore the “undesirable” qualities you possess, don’t think they just disappear. They don’t. You can try to suppress them all you want but the cold, hard truth is they will ALWAYS come out (usually at the worst times possible).
What happens is you end up projecting these qualities onto others. In other words, ignoring parts of yourself will ultimately end up sabotaging your success.
How Your Shadow Affects Your Coaching
As an introverted coach who wants to attract and sign premium clients consistently, the last thing you need is to add any additional pressure on yourself.
You are an authority and a leader in your chosen niche, so you want to make sure your actions support that. Let me give you an example:
If you are a people pleaser because you have a deep desire to avoid conflict, imagine how that will play out for you as a coach. You will say yes when you mean no, lack the ability to have hard conversations and remain completely disconnected from your intuition (a quality essential for coaching).
Do you think you are providing any benefit to your client? Why would they pay you big money for you to do nothing but make them feel comfortable?
Instead, it is necessary to figure out why you are a people pleaser in the first place, why you work so hard to keep from feeling uncomfortable. To do this, you have to look at your shadow.
The opposite of people pleasing is selfishness. If you have an adverse reaction to believing yourself to be selfish, you’ve hit gold. This is prime shadow territory.
Selfishness in business translates into boundary setting, running your business in a way that makes YOU happy and aligning with your core values.
And isn’t that what you really want?
How to Recognize Your Shadow Self
Now let’s talk about how you can easily recognize your shadow so you can find the success you are looking for.
1) What Irritates You?
Start closest to home: your spouse, friends, kids, parents, co-workers. What consistently bothers you? When you find that irritation, pinpoint the exact quality trait and then look at yourself to see how you do the same to others.
Irritation: You are annoyed because your spouse is always late
Quality: You feel it is rude to have to wait.
Shadow: How are you rude or do you make others in your life wait on you? It could be as simple as scrolling on your Instagram feed when your kid is trying to ask for help
2) Who Do You Admire?
Your shadows are not only dark, they can be light as well. In the same way you did when looking at your dark shadows, look for the people in your life you admire and look up to. Then, dig into the quality it represents until you can find that same in yourself. The cool thing about shadows is that if you can see it in others, you already possess that same quality in yourself.
Admire: I admire Oprah and think she has done so much good in the world.
Quality: Courage to be herself and live her soul purpose
Shadow: I also have the courage to be myself and live aligned with my soul purpose. If I didn’t, I would never have noticed that about Oprah.
Related Reading: The Moon: What is Shadow Work and Why is it Important?
3) Look at Your Repetitive Behavior Patterns
Start to pay attention to situations you repeatedly find yourself in. Perhaps it is drinking too much and feeling hungover the next day or it could be having the same argument with a friend. These instances give you clues to your shadow and help uncover addictive behaviors you exhibit.
Let’s go further into the drinking too much example.
What is the root cause?
Are you hiding from something? Maybe you drink to escape the way you feel about yourself as a person. Why do you want to avoid your feelings? Because you are ashamed. Why are you ashamed? Because you don’t feel anyone will love you with extra weight. Why do you feel your weight matters to anyone else? Because growing up, your parents put a large emphasis on being overweight is unacceptable. Why did your parents care so much about body weight? Because of their own insecurities.
Keep asking yourself why after every answer you give until you get to the real reason for your addictions. Your standard reactions and responses to certain situations is a clue and can help you understand and rewrite why you behave the way you do.
4) How do you talk to yourself?
We all talk to ourselves, whether you want to admit it or not. Another impactful way to do shadow work is to monitor your self-talk. If there was a recording device in your brain that you could play back each night, what would you hear? A sweet, encouraging voice that was supportive and loving? Most likely you would hear a voice with a hard edge pointing out all of the ways you screwed up today. If you wouldn’t speak to a friend in this fashion, why are you doing it to yourself? Ask your whys so you can find the root.
Another helpful way is to notice how you introduce yourself to others. If you find yourself attaching adjectives, labels and excuses, pay attention. For instance: “Hi, I’m Julie and I am the weird spiritual life coach you hear about but I don’t do any crazy stuff and I know it’s not a totally normal job” vs “Hi, I’m Julie and I am a proud spiritual life coach”.
Julie is making excuses and labeling herself instead of owning that she absolutely adores her job and is good at it. Don’t do the same thing. Own your passion. If you don’t know what your passion is, take a look at your shadows.
5) How are You at Setting Boundaries?
Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no? Does your guilt force you into doing things you don’t have time for? Do you allow yourself to be a doormat and get walked on by other people just to keep the peace?
If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you have limited to no boundaries.
Identifying where you are lacking boundaries in your life. Then, like every other step above, get to the core of why you lack them.
6) Do you allow yourself to feel?
“My research has shown me that when emotions are expressed – which is to say that the biochemicals that are the substrate of emotion are flowing freely – all systems are united and made whole. When emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to be whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocks, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good, unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behavior.”
– Candice Pert
One thing I learned the hard way is that no matter how much you try to ignore your emotions, you will never succeed at it in the long run. They will always explode out of you when you least expect it (usually at a very inopportune time) or you will feel physical pain in your body. The key to successful shadow work is to feel your emotions and allow them to be just as they are – simply energy. Neither good nor bad, your emotions are guideposts that help you find your way.
I have a bad feeling about this potential client = red flag, be extra careful
I have a good feeling about this direction I want to take in my business = possible clue to the next step on your path
As you experience emotions, take away the labels you give them. There is no right or wrong way to react. You just do. And when you do, that’s when you take a step back and start asking why to get to the root.
7) How Do You Conform Against Your True Nature?
On a family vacation, I was told to keep the fact that I am an intuitive tarot reader to myself. The reason behind this request was that it would turn off some members who were there and put a damper on our time together. I obliged, grudgingly, and kept my excitement over my recent certification to myself.
Take a look at how you do things that don’t resonate with you to keep the peace. Start by looking at your business. Where do you put aside what you really want out of fear? Ask your why questions until you get to the real reason you have a hard time showing up authentically.
8) What is Holding You Back?
Think about your dream business. What scares you? What is keeping you from achieving the goal you set for yourself? Keep your dream in mind as you work with your shadow.
Final Thoughts on Shadow Work for Your Business
You can be a successful coach if you don’t do the inner work first. But will you truly be happy? Can you honestly say you’ve given your best and made the biggest impact on the world in your lifetime?
Shadow work is not easy but it certainly pays off if you stick with it. There is no doubt in my mind you have the ability to do the work and benefit greatly from it. Stay compassionate and kind to yourself as you do this, remembering that practice is what makes you better.
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.