One-To-One Shadow Coaching Work
If you;re looking to start shadow work, a great option for your emotional healing work is to start in a one-to-one setting with an experienced shadow work coach. With the right qualifications, a coach will be an experienced facilitator well versed in working with emotional wounds and the issues which they cause in adult life.
The outcome of such coaching can be dramatic: you can quickly resolve the issues and challenges that are affecting the quality of your life.
You may find that your chosen facilitator offer a choice of group shadow workshops and individual, one-to-one coaching. The obvious benefits of working one-to-one are that you can move at the pace which suits you best, the session is more focused on you, and you have the full attention of the facilitator for as long as you are in the room.
How Do You Know If Shadow Energies Are At Play In Your Life?
Video – What’s In Shadow For Me?
To recap, there are some clear signs if you are dealing with shadow energies in your life:
First, at some point in your life, probably quite young, you made a choice not to be a certain way in the world. You did this for a very good reason, usually concerned with maintaining your “safety” in your family or some other highly charged setting like boarding school. That safety may have been emotional, physical or spiritual.
Second, consciously or unconsciously, you put certain unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours into your “shadow bag”.
Third, you find this energy sometimes bursts out in your life today, uncontrollably and unexpectedly. Often it looks different to when it went into your shadow bag.
Fourth, when it does burst out, it feels as if the energy is in control of you. It may even feel as if it has no connection with you. (“Where did that come from?”)
Which all adds up to this: when an energy goes into shadow, it grows, and later in life when you find yourself in a situation – as you surely will – which mirrors the original situation in your childhood in some way, you’ll be “triggered” into reacting from a child like energy.
“I was triggered” is what we say when we find ourselves behaving in a way we don’t want to behave, doing what we don’t want to do, and saying things we don’t want to say. (Often quite childish things, too.) And all apparently without any self-control. And you notice how saying “You triggered me!” or “I was triggered!” puts the blame on the other person? (Read more about “being triggered” here.)
Well, the reality here is that when any one of us is “triggered”, we mean that we reacted from a historical childhood wound, without any control over our reaction from the Adult or Sovereign part of ourselves. This is a clear sign of shadow at play.
You might find yourself shouting at your children, your wife or your girlfriend, thinking awful thoughts about hitting your children, cowering in front of a dominant boss, allowing people to walk all over you, not speaking up when you need to, experiencing violent images and thoughts, crying uncontrollably – and a million and one other unhelpful things. These immature responses, which lack agency, power and adult autonomy, are all signs of shadow at play.
In either a group workshop or a one-to-one setting you can dive deep into the causes of these behaviours and explore and understand them. Then you can literally embody a different way of being in the world: a more authentic, genuine and balanced way of being. A way of being which reflects who you really are.
Robert Bly on the concept of the shadow bag – video
The relevant part of this video starts at 3 minutes 7 seconds in.
Women and men who work on their shadow with a therapist or shadow coach will find that they can develop more control over how they respond in situations which would previously have triggered them. This control lets them consciously choose how to respond to situations and events which would previously have “triggered” them to react without thinking.
That’s the difference – in the past you would have just reacted without much control as shadowy energy burst or maybe even exploded out of you, most likely leaving you feeling bad afterwards.
When you’ve “worked on your shadow” with a shadow work facilitator or coach, you’ll find you can choose how to respond to events. You’ll develop mastery of your old behaviour patterns and be able to change them into something much more helpful for your life today. What’s most amazing is that almost any historical experience can be transformed in this way.
And, worthy of note, is the fact that there are shadow coaching and facilitation techniques which allow you to work on an emotional issue without having to explain the historical details, if that’s better for you. Such techniques can help with all kinds of abuse where you may not wish to reveal the details of what happened to you.
This work is a quick and effective way to develop the power of an archetype if you don’t have enough strength in that area. or, if needed, to lessen the power of an archetype so it is more in balance.
Suppose you want to strengthen your Warrior so you can set boundaries with people – which might mean finding ways to say a clear “No” or a definite “Yes”. You can start by finding out how and why (and by whom) the power to set boundaries was taken away from you; then you can develop the ability to set clear boundaries effectively.
Or suppose your issue is not feeling good enough. You might start exploring this, and discover that you came to believe you were not good enough because your father never praised you or was never satisfied with your achievements.
So you might set up a dynamic where you receive blessing and approval from the ideal loving father you never had. This is a profound process, for the part of you still looking out for a Dad’s love and approval will accept it eagerly. What happens then? Your sense of self-worth and self-esteem will immediately rise and your beliefs about yourself will change, so that suddenly you know, with a certainty you’ve never experienced before, that you are indeed worthy of praise, attention, and love.
Just one more example: if you’re having difficulties in your relationship with a loved one, you could go a long way to resolving those difficulties with a piece of work in which you explore the origins of your current beliefs, feelings and behaviours. As you explore how these things started, you bring the energy which drove them to come into existence out of shadow and into your awareness. Then you can own it fully. As you do this, you will gain new power and control which allows you to respond in a different and much more adult way to what happens in your relationship today.
In this kind of work, when you’re engaged in shadow work, which means you are working on healing your shadow, you embrace what has been repressed and denied. You embrace it, you bring it into your conscious awareness, and you discover how to control it as servant rather than master.
And it works! In over twenty years of working in the world of therapy, I have never seen a more powerful and effective system of personal growth and development than shadow work and shadow coaching.
Summary – all you really need to know!
Ways of being in the world which you learned when you were five, seven, ten, fifteen or twenty years old need to be updated so you can transform them into something much more useful in your life today.
Together, you and your shadow work coach or facilitator can find ways to encourage the part of you that’s stuck in the past to relinquish old ways of being and turn their attention to doing something much more relevant and helpful for you in your life as an adult.
Shadow Work is versatile and offers almost unlimited possibilities for change, but through it all runs a single theme: it will help you become the person you were always meant to be, before the world got in the way.