Hello, my loves. Today, we’re going to be talking about signs that you need some shadow work.
Now, I know that shadow work is a very buzzy term. It has been for the last year or two, and honestly? I think that’s fucking great. I want people to be involved in shadow work.
But to figure out if it’s something you need for your own personal journey, you need to look at a few areas of your life and see if you can spot some of these behaviors…
When considering whether someone would benefit from shadow work, the first thing that I look at is self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage can look like a lot of things.
It could mean that you get a promotion…and then you end up being late multiple times and you get fired. It could mean you get a huge chunk of money…and then something happens and you have to spend it all. It could mean you’re in a relationship that feels really healthy and secure for the first time…and then you start freaking out and pulling away and acting like a dickhead, and the relationship ends.
There are so many ways that self-sabotage can play out, but they’re all rooted in the same thing: fear.
Specifically, fear of success.
A lot of people don’t go deeper with that. But you need to go deeper with that, because I want to know: What are you actually afraid of?
If you’re in a relationship and it’s really successful, what does that mean about you? If you finally score your dream job and get recognized for what you can do, what does that mean about you?
Here’s what it means: you’re not going to be able to hang on to your victim story anymore. You’re going to have to let go of the narrative that you’re not good enough…and if you’ve filtered every decision in your life through the lens of not being good enough, and it turns out you are good enough, then what the fuck else are you going to have to do now? What else are you going to have to change?
Not only that, but we have to face the idea that we’ve been wrong about ourselves the entire time, and that’s an ego death. That results in a huge identity crisis, right? It fucks with our concept of self, because if you’ve seen yourself as unsuccessful, not good enough, too much, unlovable, unworthy, whatever it is, and you get something that is in conflict with that…there’s going to be cognitive dissonance in your brain, and you are going to want to sabotage that immediately.
The second way to tell if you need shadow work is if you’re reactive as fuck.
When we talk about reactivity, most people immediately go to throwing a tantrum, screaming, yelling, throwing shit, being violent, being passive-aggressive, etcetera. And while those things are part of it, reactivity can be quieter, too.
It can look like getting defensive. It can look like shutting down. It can look like getting distracted. It can look like procrastination. It can look like not following through on what you said you’re going to do.
Just like self-sabotage, it can come in many forms in many areas of your life.
Let’s use money as an example. Let’s say that you get a promotion, and it comes with a significant pay increase. Reactivity could look like spending it all as fast as you can, however you can: “I’m going to move to a nicer place. I’m going to get a new car. I’m going to buy myself a new wardrobe,” or whatever. And then you get yourself into a position where you’re back to living paycheck to paycheck, right?
In relationships, reactivity might show up when things are starting to go well—you’ll begin to notice tension in yourself because it’s not what you’re used to. You’re used to turbulence. You’re used to conflict. You’re used to unhealthy, anxious-avoidant dynamics.
This is not playing into what you know, so you panic and make a reactive decision to end the relationship for whatever reason you can find.
The next way to assess if you need shadow work is if you notice you are experiencing repeated patterns.
If get fired from a job once, that might just be a thing that happened, right? If you are getting fired continuously or let go continuously from different jobs, that’s something to look into.
If you keep getting ghosted every time you talk to a man, that’s something to look into. If you go on a diet and then you always gain the weight back, that’s something to look into.
The next piece of figuring out whether you need shadow work is identifying whether you have difficulty with intimacy.
If you struggle with vulnerability, if you struggle with intimacy, then I know there’s some shadowy shit playing out. That shows there are parts of you that you are not willing to look at.
And I don’t mean sexual intimacy, though that can be part of it. I mean that you have a problem with allowing someone to see your fucking soul. I mean that you get defensive and reactive when you feel too vulnerable, because you don’t want someone to see you at your core.
If you find yourself thinking with a very black or white mentality, then you need shadow work.
The ego cannot hold duality. Either this thing is true, or the other thing is true—both cannot be true in the same space.
I was talking with a client, and she was asking me about how to navigate friendships ending, and she said something akin to, “I’m so angry, but I also love this person, but I don’t want to continue the friendship, but I also care about them. I’m feeling very conflicted.” And I was like, yeah, the ego really struggles with that. The ego thinks that if you’re having a sad day and something happy happens, you can’t allow yourself to be happy, because it’s a sad day. Or the opposite: you’re having a happy day, and if something goes wrong or something hurts you, you decide to push it aside and not et yourself feel it.
So when you are in a state of black or white thinking, you are in egoic thinking. And when we’re in egoic thinking, we want to do shadow work to clock it, own it, and clean it up.
If you are getting triggered a lot by other people’s actions, behaviors, characteristics, traits, etcetera, you need shadow work.
Maybe you look at your partner lying on the couch watching a show, and you go, “Fuck, he’s so lazy. He never does anything.” Or maybe you’re looking at a coach on the internet and going, “Fuck, she works so much. She’s overworking herself. Does she ever actually take a break?” and judging them.
If you feel a charge around someone else’s behavior, that’s a trigger.
I can look at someone who is just chilling on the couch and watching movies and think they’re being lazy, but I don’t have a charge around that, because I’ve looked at my own laziness. I know that I can be lazy, too. I have the capacity to be lazy, and I’ve reconciled that.
But when you have disowned that part of yourself, there will be a charge. You’ll think things like, “Fuck, all he does is sit there. He never helps me with anything.”
That’s just not a him thing, babe. That’s also a you thing. And shadow work will help you delve into what exactly is triggering you about that—and help you reconcile with it.
Lastly—not that this is an exhaustive list, but I can’t give you all the stuff from my program in this post (if you’re checking items off this list, get your ass in gear and get into The Connected Woman)—if you catch yourself projecting onto others often, you need shadow work in your life.
When we are faced with something within ourselves that feels too big for us to handle, we want to relieve ourselves of that tension, and the way we often do that is by projecting.
This is a bit similar to what I was just talking about with triggers: if you haven’t reconciled your own laziness, and you look at someone who you believe is acting lazy, you are going to put that laziness onto them and not look at the ways you might be playing into that yourself.
If you’re noticing some familiar shit on this list, but you’re not even sure what shadow work IS, let alone where to start doing it…start by signing up for my FREE masterclass, Shadow Hunter. Inside, you’re going to learn what shadow work even is, why you need it, how you get started, and what will happen when you start viewing your life through the lens of shadow work.
It’s literally free. You have nothing to fucking lose. And if you get out of there going “Um, sign me tf up, I need this,” then great news—my signature program, The Connected Woman (aka the shadow work course to end all shadow work courses) is starting NEXT MONTH. You can sign up right now using the link below. I’ll see you there.
Get instant access to SHADOW HUNTER, a FREE 3 day event all about WTF shadow work actually is, how to do it, and how it’s going to completely change the way you do relationships forever: https://michellepanning.thrivecart.com/shadow-hunter/
Join The Connected Woman EXPERIENCE: https://michellepanning.com/the-connected-woman-experience
Sign up for The Connected Woman course: https://michellepanning.com/the-connected-woman
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”