Our generation has become obsessed with shadow work and living in an endless journey of healing. While shadow work can be a profound journey, when do we know we are healed enough?
In this episode, I go deep into what shadow work is, why our generation is attached to it, and how shadow work can be used as an excuse to avoid living our dharma. I talk about how we can be the highest service to the collective, and the joy that comes from releasing yourself from the perpetual journey of constant healing.
The world needs more empowered people spreading joy and less people overly focused on constant inner work, when they may be healed enough. I hope this episode gives you the permission to move forward as the joyful, bright sun-being you are!
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Episode #470: Are We Obsessed With Shadow Work with Sahara Rose
By Sahara Rose
When have we done enough shadow work to feel like we’re healed enough to live our Dharmas, to be joyful, to be of service to humanity, to create?
What I’ve noticed is that, sometimes, when we go on a healing journey, we think “Well, I can’t share my voice, I can’t be of service, I can’t share my gifts, because I have more healing to do”, and the more healing you do, the more you realize you have more healing to do, which makes you just go on, on this perpetual journey of healing. And part of that is true, we are never totally healed, there’s never going to be an end point to it. However, it can also be our egos way of deflecting responsibility, the responsibility of realizing that we are enough as we are and we can help people from the vantage point that we have right now, the responsibility of being of service to greater humanity, and even recognizing the privilege that we have to do shadow work. Because, the truth is, if you go to most parts in the world, such as Iran, where my family comes from, where women and men, everyone is being literally killed by the government right now, fighting for their freedom, they don’t have the opportunity to do shadow work. They open their front doors, the shadow work is right there in front of them, they don’t need to hunt for the shadows, it’s already there.
And I wonder, how much of this quest to heal and alleviate all of the shadows within ourselves is our own way of deflecting the responsibility that we have, to be of service to others?
Hello, hello! I’m Sahara Rose and welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast, a place where we discuss what makes you, your soul’s highest evolvement.
I’ve been having this conversation with a lot of my friends and I wanted to bring it here on the Podcast because I know, for so many of you, you don’t have the types of friends you can have these kinds of dialogue with, and I know, if it’s showing up in my sphere, it’s probably showing up in the greater collective. And I just haven’t really heard anyone talk about it before, so I was like “Do I talk about this? Do I not?”, and I had some doubt because I just don’t want anyone to take it the wrong way, so I’m really going to phrase this Episode like a question. This is not, necessarily, about my perspective, but it’s just about inquiry, because to me, spirituality is all about contemplation and to have awareness around everything that we’re doing, including our spiritual practice.
So, I’ve noticed this big trend in spirituality around shadow work. So, shadow work is a term coined by Karl Yung, in the 19th century, all about going into the suppressed aspects of the self, the shadow being the parts of you that have not been seen by the light, so, the parts of you that may have lower vibrational emotions, such as shame, doubt, guilt, fear, anger. So, we call this our shadow self, because it is a part of ourselves, but it’s not the part of ourselves that we show up with in the outer world, it’s the part of ourselves that we often suppress.
Now, it makes total sense why shadow work would be such a huge focus in our generation, because our parent’s generation never focused on it at all. You know, especially the Boomer generation was about pull your pants up, get it together, you’re fine, don’t cry, don’t be emotional, you know, keep it moving, work hard, be productive, and just a lot of these really capitalistic and puritanical mindset, that made us feel like our emotion, our intuition, our connection is disimportant and that we should bypass these things and keep moving, and put on a good face and keep up with the Jones’.
So, of course, our parent’s generation never looked, or really never had the opportunity to look, at a lot of their childhood traumas and patterns, and ancestral generational traumas and patterns as well, because it was so focused on “Well, what’s the point of looking behind us and looking backwards, when we should be moving ahead?” And again, that makes total sense, because they didn’t have the safety and the space to look into their shadows. And now, us, we often grew up with those parents who could see, well, the fact that they didn’t look into those shadows, made those shadows repeat, unconsciously, in their entire lives.
So, we started going to therapy, we started diving into the shadow work, which brought to surface a lot of the suppression that we have experienced in our own lives and in our family’s lives, and this has been such a beautiful movement. It has deeply helped me, just even looking at my relationship with my parents and where that came from and different emotions I was experiencing, and really asking myself why.
And as you go deeper in this journey of shadow work, it can take many shapes and forms. For some people it is the plant medicine, specifically a lot of the ayahuasca journey, pathway; for some people it is through rage rituals; for some people it is through therapy; the list goes on, there’s many different modalities to doing so.
So, I think we can all agree that shadow work has been very helpful for the collective.
The greatest way that we can help balance and heal our nervous systems is through embodiment work. You see, we spend most of our times in our heads, we are constantly analyzing, trying to make sense of the world and predict the future, but what we really need to create the future that we want is to drop into our body’s wisdom and understand what it’s telling us, and that way we can bring about more healing and co-create the circumstances that we desire, and that really comes first from knowing our body’s language.
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The question that I’m posing is, when have we done enough shadow work to feel like we’re healed enough, to live our Dharmas, to be joyful, to be of service to humanity, to create?
What I’ve noticed is that sometimes when we go on a healing journey, we think “Well, I can’t share my voice, I can’t be of service, I can’t share my gifts, because I have more healing to do”, and the more healing you do, the more you realize you have more healing to do, which makes you just go on, on this perpetual journey of healing. And part of that is true, we are never totally healed, there’s never going to be an end point to it. However, it can also be our egos way of deflecting responsibility, the responsibility of realizing that we are enough as we are and we can help people from the vantage point that we have right now, the responsibility of being of service to greater humanity, and even recognizing the privilege that we have to do shadow work. Because, the truth is, if you go to most parts in the world, such as Iran, where my family comes from, where women and men, everyone is being literally killed by the government right now, fighting for their freedom, they don’t have the opportunity to do shadow work. They open their front doors, the shadow work is right there in front of them, they don’t need to hunt for the shadows, it’s already there.
And I wonder how much of this quest to heal and alleviate all of the shadows within ourselves is our own way of deflecting the responsibility that we have, to be of service to others?
So, this is the inquiry that I’m posing, because I’ve noticed a pattern, sometimes, with people who have created their entire identities around shadow work, that it can become very focused on the self. And we think that “The more I am healing the self and divulging into the self, eventually it will ripple out into the rest of the world”, but often, it doesn’t because there never comes that point that you realize that you are enough to share and heal as you are.
So, I’ve noticed that, often times, it can go hand-in-hand with this, kind of, spiritual narcissism that we, unknowingly, experience, that “I need to heal and my whole life is just my personal healing, and my healing has nothing to do with the wellbeing of humanity”. And we see them as separate, and that’s missing the whole point of the spiritual journey, because your spiritual journey actually really being when you realize it’s not about you. It’s about you taking those gifts, taking that healing, taking that wisdom that you are forever cultivating and giving it outwards, and giving it to those who don’t have the privilege to go and do shadow work. Their entire lives are still in the shadows.
And I wonder, for a lot of the people who are looking for the next shadow work experience, I mean, I invite you to go to the slums of India, I invite you to go to the border of the US and Mexico, I invite you to go to Afghanistan, and many places around the world, and I wonder how much of these things that you’re stressed and worried about, would naturally resolve, just from looking at where most of the world still stands and how truly blessed we are to be where we are. And sometimes, being of service can be the greatest healer, sometimes scrutinizing over all of the ways that we are still not healed, and we are still wounded, and looking for more traumas, it actually can make us paralyzed, because we feel like we’re this never-ending project and there’s always more and more wrong about us.
And then, again, we get into this cycle that is an obsession and a focus of the self. And the only way that we can get out of it is to look at the collective and look at all of the ways that we have surpassed many of the limitations that we once believed that all of humanity would suffer from.
I mean, even 100 years ago, so many people were dying of malaria and many illnesses that we don’t have to experience today, we have increased the lifespan, we have come so far. And I wonder if it’s part of human consciousness to never really be happy.
So, even when we have all of our base line needs met, we have the house, we have the money, we have, even, the relationship and the career, when we have these things, but we’re then looking for shadows to heal, if that comes from this underlying anxiety that humans perpetually have of like “I don’t deserve to be joyful”, “I don’t deserve to feel peace”, “I don’t deserve to feel satisfaction”, “So, even when I have everything in my life figured out, I now must use that time to find the things that I’m not happy about and then another thing and another thing.
So, have you been on your spiritual journey for a while, but to be honest, you don’t resonate with a lot of the practices like hours of seated meditation, reading all these really heady spiritual book, but instead, you’re craving something that invites the full you, that allows you to be radiant and beautiful and connecting with your intuition and womb wisdom?
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So, am I saying we should not do shadow work? Absolutely not. I think shadow work can be so very helpful, especially when shadows are showing up in your life. So, if you’re noticing there’s a wound showing up in your relationship, you’re noticing there’s a wound showing up in your family, that is the time to go into it.
However, when it becomes out pastime to do shadow work, if it’s all we talk about, all we focus on, if we’ve created an entire identity around it, my invitation is to, first, ask yourself why and then, also, ask yourself “Is this, really, the ultimate way for me to heal my shadows? Or could there be other alternatives?”
One of the alternatives that I mentioned was, to be of service and to actually look at the shadows in humanity, but another way is to tune into your creativity, and tune into the part of you that is always imaginative, that is always channeling, that is always tuned into source. And that is just as much a part of you as the shadows are. Your light is also that 50% of you as well.
And sometimes we negate that because we become perfectionists with our healing. We want to focus on the thing that’s not right and make it right, and make it right, and we don’t realize the fact that we are creatrixes that are always co-creating, not just our reality, but the world’s reality. We’re not solely responsible for it, but if we can all take this energy and create the things that we wish the world had, I wonder what it would look like.
So, maybe, my invitation, if you’re someone that has been very deeply, only focused on shadow work, my invitation is to, now, tune into the side of your creativity, your imagination, your joy. What if you honored your joy, just as much as your shadows? What if you did things, simply, because they made you feel good and they were fun? What if we tuned into the ways that many cultures around the world have healed for generations, through song, through dance, through storytelling, through laughter?
You know, there was a shaman in a village, and someone came to them and they said “I’m sick”, and those were the questions he would ask, “When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you were under the sun? And when was the last time you were enchanted by stories?”
So, our very individualistic society, that is really obsessed with labels, has forgotten about the collective joy and communal forms of healing, that are just as ancient and just as sacred.
You know, for thousands of years, we have gathered and danced together, prayed for the rain, for the waters, for peace. We have celebrated – celebration is just as much a part of our consciousness, but how often do we actually give that time and attention?
I feel, so often, when we enter the spiritual journey, we think “Oh, fun is frivolous and doing really dark, heavy shadow work at all times is superior”, whether you’re saying it in that way or not, but we feel it’s this programming of “The only way that I can progress in life is through suffering. So, if I keep finding ways to suffer, whether it’s drinking another cup of ayahuasca, whether it’s doing this really dark, heavy retreat, whether it’s this thing or that thing, then, on the other end, will be the happiness”. But the thing is, most people who go down this journey of more deep, deep healing and they think just more of it is just what they need, they end up so far away from their true selves. They end up, in fact, often, a ghost of who they used to be. They used to be so joyful, they used to be tapped into their creativity, they used to be connected with other people, and now, it’s all about the deep, inner healing work.
Now, is this all people, who do shadow work? Not at all. I’m only speaking about making it your entire life and your identity, and when everything is good in your life, you’re like “Okay, let me find another healer to dive into something”, that’s what I’m speaking into, which is what I see a lot on the spiritual community.
However, if you’re someone that’s only in the light, only connecting to your Pleidian star family, only all about universal love and you have a hard time talking about your inner shame and guilt and your family struggles, you have a hard time talking about what’s happening in the world, you have a hard time connecting to being an activist and standing up in the face of injustice, then I would say, then your path is to step more into the shadows, and to step more into those sides of yourself and realize that there is f that duality.
So, I believe our focus, right now, is the shadows, because for so long, it’s not that we have been focused all on love, and joy, and light, I mean, I wish the collective was focused on that, but I think we were just so focused on numbing and numbing is neither ways. Numbing is not your creative self that’s here to channel new realities, and numbing is also not being truly authentic with how you feel and facing some of those deeper traumas in your life that you’ve been negating, numbing is neither. Numbing is coasting and numbing is a response to. However, as we go through the spiritual journey, it’s important to navigate what we really need at this time.
And if you’ve been doing a lot of the shadow work, after shadow work, after shadow work, maybe you just need to get your nails done, maybe you just need to watch a freaking romcom, maybe you just need to sing some karaoke, maybe you just need to be volunteering at a local school, maybe you just need to get off of Instagram for five minutes.
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And I really want to speak into this because I’ve noticed it happen with friends and beautiful people, that I’ve seen them just spiral into this, like, spiritual depression, you know. And I’ve felt like that too, like, I was on this path of like “Oh, I need to heal all of the trauma in my lineage”, and it was so heavy and so dense, especially when my lineage is forced child marriage.
You know, my grandma was 11 years old, and she was forced to marry my grandfather, who was 27 years old. And my parents escaped from war and revolution, and my uncles are political prisoners, and have family members executed by the Iranian government, and growing up and going to Iran, I saw the street children, who would escape from the Taliban, who were tortured. I have seen a lot of trauma in my lifetime, and in a way, I didn’t really have to do shadow work to see that, and that’s why I recognize the privilege to even have to, like, sign up for a thing to see shadows, when most of the world is just like, that’s their front row seat. So, I was on this path earlier this year and I was like “Okay, I’m going to do all the healing work”, and I was not writing, I was not creating, I was crying a lot and I needed to go there. And I do think that there are some time periods in our lives that we just dip into those realms, and we need to dip in, but I want to emphasize, it’s a dip, it’s not a dunk that you forever stay in and keep going deeper, and deeper, and deeper, and deeper into, until you’ve drowned yourself, it’s a dip. You go into it, but then you’ve got to come up and you’ve got to fill yourself back up again, you’ve got to fill yourself with joy and possibility and hope, because the truth is, if we don’t have the other side, this world can swallow us with its sadness and suffering.
You know, I did an Episode on why the term toxic positivity makes no sense (I’ll link it below), but I talk about, like, go tell a woman, a single mother of seven kids in Honduras, and tell her “You know what, you, singing to your kids and, you know, just smiling and dancing, is toxic positive, you should be really stressed about the fact that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, and you’re probably going to end up homeless very soon. You should be really stressed about that, you’re so toxic positive by trying to keep a smiling face right now”, like, imagine telling someone that. Because the truth is, most people don’t have the privilege to be sad, let that sink in – most people don’t have the privilege to be sad and to stay sad and to have people support them in their sadness, and to make days and space for their sadness. Most people in the world cannot do that, they need to keep going, they need to focus on the hope and the possibility that there’s going to be a greater future. Because if they linger in the sadness and the dread and the doom, they will lose themselves and they will lose their ability to create a better future for their family and their children. Like, imagine how depressing it actually is for the woman in Iran who is like “Wow, I literally am not free, and if I just walk outside and even say ‘woman, life, freedom’, I could be shot in the head”, do you think that she needs to go and do shadow work to find the shadows?
So, I think we need to recognize that, sometimes, as a spiritual community, like, how far we have come, what a gift that we have, what an honor that we have, that how are we not using this in a greater way? Like, sometimes the greatest healing work that we can do is to get out of our own story and from the vantage point that we have, share what we know, be the voice for the voiceless and realize that everyone is processing in their own ways. And to label someone as ‘toxic positive’ for being positive – like, positivity is the most natural form of healing. Scientific research, if that’s what you need, has shown that having a positive mindset is one of the best ways for, not only longevity, but to battle depression and to battle suicidal ideation.
And I think, a lot of times, people who are already in a very depressed state, are then getting caught into all of this really heavy shadow work, where they’re going into these very heavy traumas, often with people who are not trained to handle traumas, and they have these dark nights of the souls that they often don’t get out, or it takes them a very long time to get out of, because they’re not being held in the right container and they’re not dipping in, they’re diving in, and they’re not finding their way out.
And this is why it’s very important, when it comes to healing trauma, to not just do that with anyone who’s claiming themselves to be a specialist in that. Anyone can call themselves a trauma coach, but trauma is something you really want to do with someone that has a lot of experience with it, whether it is a therapist, it can be a shaman, it can be a healer, if you don’t just want to go to someone who, like, last year has decided they’re going to be a trauma coach, because it can bring up a lot that you just might not be able to be resourced to find your way on the other side.
So, I bring this up, just as a contemplation, I believe everyone’s on their own path and can do what they desire, and will find their own journey in their own time. I just have had many conversations with people who recognize their loved ones, their partners, even themselves. Just go on this journey of hunting for shadows and it become the focus of their lives and can sometimes just take them deeper into darkness and prevent them from seeing the light that they’re already in, to even have the opportunity to have the space to do shadow work.
So, I hope this landed, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Please share it over with me over on my Instagram, and if you resonated with this Episode, please share it on your Instagram stories and let’s have this conversation.
And I would also love for you to leave a review for this Podcast, it really helps more people find it, and as a free gift, I will send you my Womb Meditation, which allows you to connect and tune into your womb’s wisdom, ask her a question, receive the answer.
So, you can head over to iTunes and leave a review for the Podcast, take a screenshot and submit it over at [email protected] and you can find that in the show notes.
Thank you so much for tuning in and I’ll see you in the next one. Namaste!
Episode #470: Are We Obsessed With Shadow Work with Sahara Rose
By Sahara Rose