The Basics to Using Shadow Work in Addiction Recovery

shadow work and breath work

We all have that side of ourselves, the parts of our personalities or life experiences that we don’t want to look at or want others to see. Maybe we’re afraid of how it makes us feel or how others could perceive it. All of this explains our “shadow,” coined and studied by the influential psychiatrist Carl Jung. It was his belief and theory that the more we repress and ignore our shadow, the more power and influence it has over us. For those in addiction recovery, they have pushed away from their inner shadow for years or decades when their suppressed shadow may be what manifested as their addiction in the first place.

What Can Shadow Work Teach Us In Addiction Recovery?

Shadow work helps us confront the parts of ourselves and traumas we have been hiding from and avoiding, which may be causative factors in addiction. Shadow work can help us accept and give compassion to our addicted selves, so we don’t feel ashamed or feel like we’re in a constant battle with them.

If you aren’t sure where to begin identifying your shadow parts, then start reflecting on what parts of yourself or others do you judge or feel annoyed by. Ask yourself, what fears repeatedly pop up for you? The good news is that after you work to integrate your shadow parts and your addiction, you can better understand the role addiction has played in your life without negative feelings overshadowing it. Maybe you will see that your addiction served as a survival response or as an attempt to seek connection to others. Whatever it may be, shadow work will allow you to learn and grow from your addiction.

Ways to Approach Shadow Work:

  • Meditation with the shadow self
  • Asking yourself questions, observing your reactions, and practicing conscious awareness
  • Journaling
  • Breathwork
  • Coaching or therapy
  • Inner child work

Transformation Comes From a Place of Acceptance, Not Rejection

Shadow work allows us to integrate the parts of ourselves that we have long resisted, so we may act consciously instead of having our subconscious shadow-driving behavior. The key to transforming the negative aspects of ourselves is through accepting and finding love or appreciation for the parts we don’t like. Only then can we finally be free from the burden of fear that our shadow operates on.

As Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.” We can never run away from the negative parts of ourselves, and when we try to, they undermine us and become even more powerful, negative forces in our lives. Our shadow, when left ignored, can manifest into addiction, codependency, mental illness, chronic disease, and much more. Doing the necessary shadow work to integrate the darkness within us will help stop our subconscious from controlling us and wreaking havoc on our lives. Shadow work is a valuable complementary practice to try in recovery but is not offered at Avalon. However, at Avalon, we offer treatment therapies including yoga, acupuncture, art therapy, writing therapy, and counseling to help our clients heal their mind, body, and spirit as part of their treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. Through the use of these complementary healing modalities in our comprehensive treatment programs, we will help you find recovery and acceptance of your whole self–shadow and all. Call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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