Updated March 19, 2021
This post is for you if you…
- want to know if what you are feeling during shadow work is normal
- need inspiration to continue facing your fears
- are a new, introverted coach who understands that in order to have a successful business, you have to do the inner work
The Purpose of My Post
So, you have a dream.
Visions of being a full time coach and successful business owner. All you need to do is put in the work as a new entrepreneur and you can quit your job and finally enjoy a life of joy.
First, I want to say that I am so happy you do indeed have a dream. Too many people remain stuck in an unfulfilling existence, sludging along in their 9 to 5 believing they have no other choice.
Second, I have a question for you. In your business owning dreams, have you given any thought as to the action you need to take to face your fears? I am guessing you probably have at one point, but how far along have you come?
If your answer is not very, you are reading the right post. The purpose of this article is to talk about the importance of working on yourself alongside building your business. I will go into depth about your shadow, why working with it is important and what you may experience as you do so.
What is Shadow Work?
Carl Jung defines the shadow as the part of yourself that you deny, hide and refuse to acknowledge. The side most often projected 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 intentional focus and success as a coach.
Shadow work is the extremely important practice of acknowledging all parts of yourself, developing a relationship with them, feeling your emotional response completely and finally releasing the labels of good and bad.
Why is Shadow Work Important?
I believe shadow work is one of the most important acts of self-love you can do for yourself. When you have the courage to fully face every single part of yourself, even the ones you deem “unacceptable”, you have given yourself the opportunity for massive expansion. You no longer have to compartmentalize your personas, worrying about bringing out the “right” one depending on who you are with. As you work with yourself, both your light and dark shadows lose their hold over you. You begin to grow and embrace who you truly are.
As a result, you will experience:
- Living in full authentic self-expression
- Creativity that allows you to manifest your dream life
- Emotional freedom
- A greater understanding of yourself and others
- Ability to surmount your ego
- Knowledge of how to use your fear as fuel
- A feeling of wholeness
Can you see how this could massively benefit you and others as a coach?
What You May Experience when Working with Your Shadow Self
Shadow work is downright messy. You will want to quit and crawl back to your distraction filled life. But you can’t because once you shine the light into your dark corners, there is no going back to the beginning. When you make the decision to push yourself out of your comfort zone and jump into the deep waters of the unknown, what comes out of it is explosive growth. But before you experience this growth, you must learn how to swim.
The emotions you will most likely experience are not fun. However, I am hoping that by naming them as normal, it will take away some of the doubt you feel as you wonder if this is all worth it (I promise you, it is).
You Feel Like You are Going Backwards
So you made the decision to jump in rather than slowly acclimate to the water. But as soon as you go under, you immediately regret your rash choice as the freezing temperature takes your breath away.
Tread water, my friend. Keep swimming. I promise you, it gets warmer.
You may feel like you are going backwards because you just gave your system a major shock. This is completely normal. In reality, you are actually moving forward because you just took the first step towards taking responsibility for who you are. To get to your shadows you first have to shine the light on them – and just turning on that flashlight is courage in itself.
Loss of Enthusiasm
Okay, I get it, this is not fun by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it downright sucks. Shadow work is not for the faint of heart and it is freaking hard. It requires true dedication and crystal clear clarity as to why you are doing this in the first place. If you know your why, it helps to lift you up when you find yourself bogged down and drowning from the heavy burden that are your fears.
It is totally normal to lose your enthusiasm as you work through this. Like a lot of us, you started out thinking this would be no big deal and wouldn’t take very long. By now, you know this couldn’t be further from the truth. What I want you to remember, though, is what you are going through are signs of healing. Just as a scab starts to itch when your body is healing, you will experience your own itching as your body heals from stripping off the armor of conformity that has chafed for so long.
Related Reading: 8 Ways to Identify Your Shadow and Why It’s Important
Decreased Confidence and Increased Self-Doubt
Going through the process of working with your shadow self is taxing, but in a good way. However, sometimes you may feel like you every ounce of confidence you built for yourself is completely gone, making space for nagging feelings of self-doubt. Again, this feeling is completely normal.
I want to urge you not to give up on yourself. These feelings of doubt will dissipate, you just have to keep working through them. As you do, you will find your confidence growing once again and this time, it is supporting the person you truly are (not the role you play).
A Roller Coaster of Emotion
Let me spell it out for you so you don’t think you are weird or beat yourself up for screwing up: you will feel an entire range of emotions as you go through this process. Expect it and embrace it as each emotional range brings its own lesson for your growth.
Yep, you will drop into victim mode. Don’t stay too long at this pity-party, however. You have work to do and don’t want to stay out too late.
Some of you may not have felt this emotion in a long time because you are so good at suppressing it. Get angry. Really feel it. Punch a pillow or do whatever you need to do to release it. And while you are at it, get rid of the label you have placed on anger as being a “bad” emotion.
Each of us experiences a purging of our old selves differently. Some have the luxury of doing it in solitude while others of us are surrounded by family and responsibilities. Whatever your situation, you may find you feel guilty for bringing this not only onto yourself but into your daily life with those you love. It is normal to feel the guilt but I want to stress that it is important not to focus on it. You are in the middle of a major inner revolution as you question a lifetime of firmly held beliefs. It won’t be this way forever.
Hand in hand with guilt, it’s normal to start beating yourself up. Whether it’s because you aren’t happy with how you are navigating this process or just pissed at yourself for starting in the first place, it’s necessary you show yourself some grace. If you continue to hate yourself because you aren’t living up to your own (often impossible) expectations, you are only holding yourself back from moving forward on your journey.
Self-development can feel like one of the lonliest paths you can take in life. If you feel this way, you are willfully cutting yourself off from those who can walk with you. Yes, you must do the actual work on your own. But there will always be someone who will be on the sidelines cheering you on. Don’t shut them out. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help, love or support from those who have been there or those who are facing their own fears. Collaboration with like-minded people makes your process so much easier, especially when they know exactly what you are going through.
Final Thoughts on Shadow Work as a Coach
Right now, your life may feel off kilter and massively uncomfortable. It’s okay. You are already moving forward simply by having the courage to face yourself completely.
The uncomfortable feeling will pass. You are shedding your masks and getting totally naked. The benefits to this are huge and will benefit you greatly in your coaching as well as running a business. Knowing who you are and what you stand for allow you to do things how you want in a way completely aligned with the real you.
There is no finish line but each time you bravely take another step forward, it gets a little easier. And I will be on the sidelines to cheer you on.
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.