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Emotional Healing and the Shadow Self

Anything you’ve suppressed, in terms of emotions, has to be felt in order to be healed.

That's really what 'healing' is - it's allowing emotions. Emotions want to be felt and if we suppress them, they try to come up and they usually end up sabotaging us.

An example of a frequently suppressed emotion is sensitivity. When I was growing up in the 80's, boys were shamed for crying. We'd hear things like "big boys don't cry". Boys would be told they were brave if they didn't cry when they were hurt or upset, so not only were they shamed for crying, they were rewarded for bottling up their feelings and pretending to be 'strong'. This type of conditioning is called programming.

We all have programming for a variety of reasons - our culture, upbringing, religion, societal beliefs, schooling etc. And this programming stays with us. Therefore with the above example, the boy will continue to suppress his tears as he grows into an adult. This festers and can show up as frustration. It can also cause the adult male to reject the sensitivity in others and become agitated when others cry and show sensitivity around him - this particular behaviour is called 'projection', it's where a behaviour that is buried deep within someone is projected out onto another person and they recognise that trait in others, but deny that it exists within them.

What is happening is that sensitivity and emotionality are buried in what's known as the 'shadow self'. This is the part of us that holds our suppressed emotions and memories that were buried deep for one reason or another. The reason we need shadow work is to learn how to understand ourselves better and to see why we are triggered by other people (as this is a reflection of what's buried in our own shadow).

Emotional healing - emotions must be felt in order to be healed

What can happen when we have an active 'shadow self' is that we are presented with things that prompt, or trigger, an emotional response within us. Sticking with the example of the male who has buried sensitivity in his shadow, he will notice things that are 'external' to him (in his external environment i.e. at work, at home or in his family) will come into his life to prompt him to feel sad or upset, as a way to help him to heal. Our external environment is deeply affected by our internal emotional state, so if our internal environment is one of hidden sensitivity that wants to come up and be felt, then we will be presented in our external environment with things that will create that emotion.


External events are mirrors of our internal emotional state.

However, before you panic and think your entire lifetime is going to be a series of painful emotional triggers, there are things you can do to reduce them. Doing shadow work will enable you to find, allow and therefore heal those suppressed emotions you've got buried within. Once you identify that part of you that was suppressed and denied, and you allow it to simply be, it doesn't need to sabotage you any more. You simply recognise it as a part of the human experience without attempting to deny or bury it. In time, the painful 'externa' situations no longer appear, and if they occasionally crop up, they no longer have the same emotional grip on you. You become less reactive as you understand the cause of the reactivity.

If you'd like to undertake shadow work and see the benefits it has on your life, you might want to take a look at my Shadow Work course.

You can also become aware of what's in your shadow by your dreams - do you have scary dreams? Recurring nightmares? What is happening in your dreams? If there's fear, what is causing the fear? Dreams are symbolic of what's in our subconscious mind, and if they're unpleasant or scary they might be allowing you to feel - and therefore release - some of the emotions that are in your shadow.

When you experience dreams like this, see if you can remember a few details and write them down as soon as you wake up so you don't forget them again later. You might want to allow some the emotion from your dreams to come back up in your waking life as that can helps you to heal faster, so you can sit and meditate on the theme of the dream, recognising that it might be symbolic for a part of you that's unhealed.

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