Exercise #11- Secrecy
What parts of yourself do you keep hidden from your friends and loved ones? Explore why below.
Exercise #12- The Victim
Explore how you play out the following role in real life: The Victim (other names: slave, martyr). If you have been genuinely victimized in life, it’s important that you own the title of victim. But when you create an identity surrounding your victimhood, then you suffer tremendously. The biggest problem that the inner victim brings to our lives is self-pity and disowned personal power. When we don’t take responsibility for our prosperity, bliss, and contentment, our lives seem like a never-ending stream of misery – it can feel as though life is against us.
How does the Victim show up in you? Record your reflections below.
Exercise 13 - Biggest Fear
What do you fear losing the most? b) How does your biggest fear influence your decisions, habits, outlooks or relationships?
Exercise 14 - Egocentricity
In what areas of life are you egocentric, i.e. the world revolves around you and your needs? Be honest with yourself. Explore below.
Exercise 15 - Sexuality
What areas of sex and sexuality cause you to feel embarrassment, shame, disgust or inadequacy? Why?
Do you feel comfortable expressing your sexual needs? Why or why not?
Exercise 16 - Self-Confidence
In what situations do you most lack confidence? Write your response below. b) Explore how your childhood upbringing or social conditioning may have contributed to your insecurity. What outdated beliefs about yourself is your inner child still holding on to? Investigate below.
A.) Explore something that’s really upsetting, depressing, worrying or frustrating you at the moment about yourself. Record your response below.
B) Next, think about what mistaken belief of yours might be contributing to this perceived problem.
To complete part (b), you will need to experiment with a basic self-inquiry exercise. The exercise is as follows: keep asking “why?” to the initial problem you wrote about in part (a) and you will eventually uncover your mistaken belief.
Here is an example of a worrisome issue someone might explore for part (b): “I feel ugly and fat. Why? Because no one ever compliments me and they always obsess over my best friend. Why? Because I’m overweight. Why? Because I eat too much. Why? Because I feel sad. Why? Because I feel like I’m unworthy of other’s affection.” The statement “I’m unworthy of other’s affection” is the mistaken belief here. Go as deep as you can and keep asking why until you reach an “I am [insert belief here]” statement.
Common mistaken beliefs include, “I’m not good enough,” “I am stupid,” “I am unlovable,” “I am bad and deserve to suffer,” “I am ugly,” “I am irredeemably flawed,” and the list goes on. Take your time, explore below, and reflect on your discoveries
Exercise 18 – Flaws
List two major flaws of yours that you’re embarrassed about and how they can secretly be strengths. Transforming the negative within you into a source of strength is a form of shadow integration.
Exercise 19 - Lying
What lies have you recently caught yourself telling – and how do you feel during and after telling them? (There is no right or wrong response here, it’s simply material to reflect on.)
Exercise 20 - Immaturity
In what areas of life do you behave immaturely or like a child? Carefully examine every area of your life. Record your response below. b) Next, explore what unmet needs you might be trying to receive by behaving in a childish way.
Exercise 21 - Triggers
Part 1: Reflect on the past few days. What words, feelings, beliefs, habits, actions or behaviors of others triggered a strong reaction within you? This reaction could have been extremely positive (joy, laughter, admiration) or extremely negative (anger, disgust, hatred). Write down your discoveries below.
Part 2: Next to each reaction think about times when you exhibited similar behavior to the person who triggered a strong reaction in you. Be honest and have an open mind.
Exercise 22 - Expressing Anger
What is your reaction when people express anger? Record your answer below. b) How do you think your upbringing may have influenced your reactions?
Exercise 23 - Nasty Intentions
What was the last nasty or cruel thing you wanted to say or do to someone in order to make them feel bad? Write down your response and explore your feelings about it.
Exercise 24 - Intolerance
List three things you’re intolerant about in strangers or people you don’t know well. What shadows do they reveal about you? Explore, ponder, and speculate below.
Exercise 25 - Approval
What things do you do to secretly gain approval? (Examine areas in your life where you feel good about yourself based on other’s positive reactions.
Explore how you play out the following role in real life:
The Judge (other names: critic, examiner). Everyone has an inner Judge – it is a necessary, fundamental part of life. Without the inner Judge we would make poor decisions, live disconnected from reality, and be incapable of self-reflection.
But when the inner Judge is too prominent in our lives, our minds are filled with harsh and critical self-talk and the impulse to condemn others. The inner Judge is a major cause of low self-esteem and is fueled by negative core beliefs and distorted thoughts.
How does the Judge show up in you? Record your reflections below.
Exercise 27 - Arguments
Think about past arguments and fights you’ve had with your partner, exes, friends, children or family members. Recall the nastiest and most serious disagreements and conflicts you’ve had. Write them down below. What were you accused of?
As always, approach this activity from a calm and neutral emotional standpoint. (If you find this activity triggers you by making you feel defensive, angry, and so forth, stop at once and do something else. Return when you feel levelheaded and try again.)
Can you find any recurring patterns in the gripes and allegations of wrongdoing others have made against you? For example, perhaps you have frequently been accused of being self-absorbed, naggy or deceitful. Write down your thoughts below and ask yourself, “could there be a shred of truth in these accusations?” Be honest. This exercise is to help you, and being dishonest to yourself only hurts you.
Exercise 28 - Attraction
Part 1: Think about what you love the most about your romantic partner or a close friend – a quality that immediately attracted or inspired you that you don’t possess. Document your response below.
Part 2: Reflect on the quality/s you just wrote about. Whatever positive trait you chose is likely a golden shadow of yours (i.e. a positive shadow quality) that you were never encouraged to develop. Below, explore how this positive quality was shut down within you as you grew up. For example, if you mentioned how much you love your partner’s artistic abilities, explore how your own inner artist was silenced or rejected growing up.
Exercise 29 - Humor
Think about your sense of humor. What do you find funny? What types of jokes make you laugh? (Your sense of humor opens a hidden door into the world of your shadow.) Styles of humor often include slapstick, self-deprecation, body-centered (e.g. sexual and toilet jokes), observational (e.g. on society), and dark comedy. What does your sense of humor reveal about an aspect of your shadow self?
Exercise 30 - Parents
What qualities in your parents do you most dislike or have trouble dealing with? What might these qualities secretly reveal about you?
Exercise 31 - Money
Part 1: Let’s explore the shadows lurking underneath your relationship with money. Answer the following questions below. Try not to think about your responses too much, just let them flow out of you naturally.
a) When I lack money I … b) When I have lots of money I … c) When someone asks me for money I … d) When the topic of money arises in my relationships I ...
Once you have journaled about these questions, do some analysis. Do any of your responses trigger feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, or general discomfort? If so, underline the words, sentences, or concepts that put you on edge. Perhaps you will discover that you hoard, waste or ignore money. You might even find that money is tied in with your self-worth more than you thought. Whatever you underline reveals your money shadows.
Part 2: Think about the ways your money shadows have impacted your life. Explore how your financial habits, compulsions or insecurities have tainted your:
a) Friendships b) Relationships c) Self-esteem d) Self-fulfillment e) Spirituality
Part 3: Finally, explore three ways you can create more financial harmony in your life. Write these ideas down below and consider the easiest ways to actively incorporate them into your life across the next two months. Remember, it takes about 60 days to create a habit, so think about actionable tasks you can take every day to reverse the impact of your shadow’s perception of money. Remember: money itself isn’t evil. Money is simply a symbolic medium of exchange. Instead, it is our relationship with money that is the issue.
Get an outside objective perspective on your shadows. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to reveal any blind spots, vices or imperfections you might have that you aren’t aware of.
This activity needs to be done with a calm mind, open heart, and thankful spirit. Be careful of jumping to the defense, getting angry or (worst of all) throwing insults or raging at those who are simply trying to help or enlighten you at your request. Be aware that their responses may shock, trigger or catch you off guard, so go prepared to hear the worst! Respect both your courage and theirs for choosing to share. Write down what they reveal about you below. Also record any physical, emotional, or mental reactions that you immediately noticed arise within you after hearing their feedback.
Finally, keep in mind that their feedback might be a projection of their own shadow onto you, so ideally ask for feedback from two or three trusted loved ones to get a well-rounded picture. Make sure you thank your loved one/s and give them a hug or kiss to end this activity. If it helps you to feel safe, ask your loved ones for reassurance that they still love and accept you. This activity can sometimes feel a little destabilizing, so find ways to make yourself feel safe and held by those you trust.
Exercise 33 - Ancestral Trauma
a). Reflect on any dark secrets lurking within your family and ancestral line. Think about what tragedies, scandals, addictions, horrific events or forms of abuse have occurred that your family prefers to suppress, deny or ignore. Record them below.
b) Explore how the ancestral trauma within your family has had a ripple effect on your own physical, emotional, and psychological makeup.
c) Examine how you can put an end to these ancestral shadows once and for all.
Exercise 34- Body Pain
Reflect on any sources of frequent or chronic pain in your body. What kinds of emotions may be stored within these areas? To begin this activity, connect with the part of your body that hurts, breathe deeply, and relax your mind. Ask your body, “what are you trying to tell me?” or “what do I need to know?” and wait for a response by closing your eyes and tuning in. Record any images, words, scenarios, memories or symbols you receive, below. This exercise can sometimes take a bit of practice, so don’t worry if you come up blank. Just try again when you feel ready. Storing emotional pain in the body is what psychologists call it somatization and it can reveal a lot about your buried shadows.
Exercise 35 - Shadow Letter
Give your shadow self a voice. Sit somewhere quiet and focus on your breath for a few minutes. When you are ready, light a candle, mentally envision a circle of protection around you, and tune into your inner ‘dark voice.’ If it helps you to feel more comfortable and protected, you may like to call on any higher forces you believe in to support you such as Spirit, God, Goddess, your Spirit Guides, Higher Self or Soul.
Once you feel grounded and supported, ask out loud or in your mind, “Dear Shadow, please talk to me. What would you like to tell me?” We recommend keeping a few loving affirmations ready, just in case you need to use them to counteract any overwhelming negativity that might arise. Close your eyes and write whatever pops into your mind during your shadow journaling and don’t censor any of it! Let it all come out naturally, no matter how scrambled, cryptic, disturbing, offensive or explicit it is – it’s your shadow self, remember! When the words stop flowing and you’re done, blow out the candle, and take a few moments to connect with your heart. How do you feel? Repeat your loving self-affirmations with heartfelt sincerity. Reflect on what your shadow has expressed to you below. What words, concepts or feelings jump out? These will be essential to reflect on and revisit regularly.
Whew! That’s quite a list of exercises.
Did you get through the entire list? Any “aha!” moments you’d like to share?
Keep in mind, this is just the tip of the iceberg on questions to help you identify your shadows. If you’d like the FULL workbook, go to www.lonerwolf.com.
And, as always, be kind to each other.
I’m leaving shadow work next week and celebrating all things Beltane. Fun! Flowers in your hair! And sex, of course. So put your shadow work aside and come dance around the maypole with me.