How to Use Shadow Work to Get Out of Your Own Way with Caitlin Hosking
It’s time to shine some light on shadow work!
In this post, you’ll learn from Caitlin Hosking, the ultimate shadow work queen, about how to ban self-sabotage by digging into our shadows. Caitlin helps ambitious women stop sabotaging their goals so that they can create the life that they desire. And a major component of her work revolves around what is referred to as “shadow work.”
I know, I know… even just the term “shadow work” is enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
But shadow work doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be one of the most empowering forms of self-work you can do to get out of your own way and stop negative patterns from popping up in your life (and in your business).
Because when you really see your shadows for what they are and learn to work WITH them instead of fighting AGAINST them?
That’s where the magic really happens.
Read on to learn more about what your shadow is and how to use it to your advantage.
What is the shadow?
According to Caitlin, the shadow is everything in our subconscious that we have disowned or denied. The shadow is formed in childhood by the ways you were praised and punished by your parents or caregivers. But it doesn’t just refer to “dark” or negative things: it encompasses both the positive and negative aspects of ourselves that we’ve disowned from an early age in order to “protect” ourselves.
For example, say that your caregivers praised you for being smart and doing well in school. This might have caused you to create a belief system that said if you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough. And that belief might have snowballed into full-blown perfectionism and imposter syndrome as you got older.
In this example, when we start comparing ourselves or our performance to other people, this can actually point to a part of our shadow where we’ve disowned a more confident or empowered part of ourselves out of a fear of failure. (We can also disown more “negative” parts of ourselves in order to keep ourselves safe, like selfishness, rudeness, etc.)
As we grow up, all of these disowned positive and negative aspects of ourselves get tossed into a metaphorical bag, which we drag around our whole lives. And those discarded parts of ourselves become our triggers and subconsciously hold us back.
How to identify your shadows
Caitlin says that you can use your current limiting beliefs to help find your shadows. For example, if your belief is that you’re not smart enough, then you’ll be able to find the shadows around that by asking yourself, “Why is it so important to me that I have to be seen as smart?”
Your shadow is going to be the opposite of the aspect that’s so important to you. (e.g., if you want to be accepted by others for being smart, your shadow self is afraid of being rejected for NOT being smart.)
The goal of shadow work
Our shadows stop holding us back when we bring them into the light and allow them to be as they are. Caitlin says that shadow work is about looking at these hidden parts of yourself from a neutral perspective and then integrating and accepting them. The goal is to coexist with them, not to banish them entirely.
How shadow work helps in business
Caitlin warns that if you try to use discipline, hustle, etc. to force your way to happiness without ever addressing your shadows, it will never work. Because your shadows will keep you unhappy, even if you get everything you want. When you don’t address your shadow, it’s like trying to keep a secret from everyone, all the time… and it’s more exhausting than you might think. This is how total burnout eventually happens.
“As business owners, we're creatively drained. We're losing our inspiration because we're not being authentic, and we're not being our true, full selves. We're so afraid of all of the parts of us actually coming out that we can't even step into our full power,” Caitlin says.
But once you shine the light on your shadows, they start to soften. And then you can actually start to work your way through your triggers, get out of your own way, and show up as yourself 100% in everything you do. It makes everything so much easier.
So how do you get started with shadow work?
Caitlin says it depends on where you are in your personal development journey. Guided visualizations are a great way to start (you can find a ton on YouTube). But you can also just sit down and journal about what’s coming up for you right now.
Start with The Big 3:
- What triggers you? (Hint: It's not usually a circumstance, person or situation - It's the meaning that we create behind that circumstance, person, or situation.)
- What judgements do you find yourself making?
- What patterns keep showing up in your life?
Then, once you identify these, bring them more into the light. A great way to work through these is to answer the following prompts in your journal:
What would I do differently if I didn’t believe x?
How has this trigger/judgement/pattern actually helped me? What is its gift for me?
How is this trigger/judgement/pattern serving me now (if at all)?
The willingness to ask these questions in the first place is what sets it all in motion. Shadow work helps you accept your fullest self so you can see new perspectives and move forward into a new way of living and being. (Yup, it’s basically magic.)
How to Use Shadow Work to Get Out of Your Own Way with Caitlin Hosking: Main Takeaways
I hope this discussion helps you shine a brighter light on your shadow self and shifts your perspective on what it means to do this type of work. While shadow work can seem like a daunting task, your goal is not necessarily to heal your shadows, but to coexist with them. And in doing so, you can unlock so much more success & potential in your life & business.
If you want to connect with Caitlin and learn more about her incredible approach to shadow work, be sure to follow her on Instagram here.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING …
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