The term "Shadow" was coined by psychiatrist Carl Jung and, in essence, refers to the unconscious and repressed aspect of our personalities. Long before Jung, other spiritual traditions, shamans and curanderos, were aware of the shadow. However, Jung was the first to introduce this idea to the West.
Understanding our shadow is important because it can shape our beliefs, our interactions with others, and our reactions to situations more often than we are aware of. When we learn to recognize and accept our shadow, we can start to free ourselves from the limiting beliefs and behaviors that keep us stuck.
Additionally, recognizing and accepting our shadow can be a long, non-linear, and challenging process. Microdosing psychedelics can be an interesting practice to support your shadow work journey. Here, we will explore the benefits of microdosing and how the practice can assist you in integrating your shadow and transforming your life.
What is the Shadow?
According to Jung, the shadow would be an unconscious core of what was suppressed or inherited from the past, including tendencies, images, emotions, desires, memories, and experiences that can be considered incompatible and contrary to social standards, or even what we consider primitive or inferior, as well as what we ignore.
The shadow is often the part of us that we are ashamed of, embarrassed by, or feel guilty about. It can manifest in different ways, such as fear, anger, sadness, and shame. Recognizing and accepting our shadow is an important first step in integrating it. Integrating the shadow can also serve as a source of vitality, assertiveness, and creativity.
Why Should We Do Shadow Work?
To reach the core of who we are, we must examine our shadow. Everyone has a shadow with them and the less that shadow is integrated into the conscious mind, the darker and denser it gets.
When the shadow is left unaddressed, it frequently controls our lives through addictions, mental illness, low self-esteem, self-sabotage, etc. Although we may not be aware of it, there seems to be a living entity inside of us that is constantly influencing our behaviour.
Projecting—which is when we perceive things in others that are within ourselves but we choose to omit them —is the main strategy we employ to ignore our own shadow.
We seek to punish anything that makes us think about a part of ourselves that we are unable to accept. However, we frequently "see" these denied qualities in other people rather than in ourselves. Each of us transfers portions of our rejected selves to others.
Honestly acknowledging our shortcomings and creating space for wholeness are both aspects of accepting the shadow. Making space for the fusion of opposites within ourselves is what unifies the fragmentation of our being, broadens our consciousness, deepens our understanding, and increases our capacity to love, include, and empathize.
How Can Microdosing Support Shadow Work?
Microdosing can be used to help you gain insight into your underlying issues and feelings and to help you gain a better understanding of yourself. It can also help you better connect with your inner world, allowing you to access your shadow and begin the process of integration.
Microdosing often brings you insights and the understanding you need to begin the process of integration. As you learn to accept and love all parts of yourself, you can become more empowered, confident, and content in your life. Additionally, microdosing can help you to cultivate a greater sense of self-love and acceptance, which is essential for diving deeper into shadow work.
What is the Process of Integrating Your Shadow?
Integrating your shadow is a process of healing, understanding, and accepting the parts of yourself that you have been denying or pushing away. This can be a difficult, non-linear, and challenging process, but it is also one that can be transformative and life-changing.
Here are a few ways you can start integrating your shadow:
- Avoid fighting your shadow. Be a witness, not a critic of it
The most crucial action is to recognize when your shadow appears and to act as an observer and witness to your feelings. We can simply acknowledge our darkness without condemning it. This has everything to do with being aware and in the present moment while also observing your thoughts and emotions without passing judgment or assigning them a positive or negative value.
A microdosing routine can assist you in becoming more aware of the present moment, of your thoughts and behavior patterns. Besides that, it is often common for many to feel more compassion and gentleness towards the self, which gives the necessary pause to be a witness of our shadow and shine light onto it.
As a child, I learned that to be a “good girl” I must stay quiet and compliant which translated to feelings of insecurity in showing up as the fullest expression of myself... Microdosing has helped me become more aware of the ways I am afraid to take up space in certain social contexts. Now, instead of immediately criticizing myself when this occurs, I can pause and be more gentle to that version of me who is afraid to be seen thus leading me to show up differently in situations that were previously difficult for me.
- Pay attention to your emotional reactions
Pay attention to the situations or people that trigger strong emotions that appear out of proportion to the situation. Our triggers are our closest allies when it comes to shadow work.
Triggers are easy to shade and show our wounds. Our objective is to be able to pause when a trigger situation arises and just observe our emotional response. Take a few deep breaths, concentrate on them, and become conscious of the emotion you're experiencing without trying to change it.
Breathing deeply, we must allow ourselves to experience the emotion in our bodies without automatically responding. Our dark feelings act as a doorway to our shadow. Your shadow gets weaker and weaker as a result of you letting it show up and accepting it.
Since I started my latest 6-week microdosing journey, my ability to cope with intense emotions has increased and I feel a better overall sense of emotional stability. Recently, after a trigger brought up feelings of anger, I was able to be with the emotion and meditate on it, going through the layers and into the root cause of the anger. When I could see the anger for what it truly was, I could acknowledge that it was there to protect me but that I no longer needed this protection as I once did.
- Inner child work
Even though you may not have ever spoken to, hugged, or expressed regret for allowing certain things to happen to them, the child you once were still resides within you.
Think back to a time when you were young and felt vulnerable and compassionate toward yourself. Start a conversation with the child you were in that situation by going back to a memory where you felt completely helpless, powerless, and afraid.
Talk to your inner child with kind words. Express your understanding of the suffering they have endured by apologizing to them for only just now recognizing them.
Microdosing has helped me reconnect with my inner child in so many ways, not just through reparenting myself but also through fun and play. The psychedelic experience has allowed me to experience spontaneous connection with younger parts of myself by empathizing with the anxious or insecure voice in my head, and holding it with the same care I would hold a close friend.
- Be mindful of projections
We are all mirrors for each other. Others show us things that we frequently are unable to see in ourselves. Start observing how you perceive the world and other people. If there is something about someone that you dislike, be aware that this could indicate an unresolved issue within yourself.
Combining microdosing with journaling exercises has been a powerful tool for becoming more aware of my own projections. Microdosing has made me more connected with my true self and has increased my confidence giving me the space to be less judgemental towards myself and others. In this less judgemental space, I can easily notice when I am feeling something that is truly related to the other person or just related to an internal wound that needs attention and healing.
- Ask questions to your shadow
Asking yourself these questions will help you gain a first understanding of your shadow.
What aspects of myself do I dislike?
What aspects of myself do I criticize?
How do I judge other people?
What about myself I am ashamed of?
What do I think other people will think of me?
As a child, was I fully accepted?
How did I experience love as a child?
As we use techniques of personal inquiry involved with the process of shadow work, microdosing can help us become more in tune with ourselves. The ability of psychedelics to dislodge unconscious fragments and bring them into focus within the conscious self is one of their most significant healing effects.
Recognizing the shadow is an important part of self-knowledge. Microdosing can be a powerful ally in learning more about ourselves and our journey toward wholeness, helping us gain insight into our underlying issues and feelings and connecting with our inner world.
If you're looking for a more personalized approach and support to make the most out of your microdosing practice, consider hiring a coach to guide your journey. You can find out more about my 6 to 8-week microdosing support journey here. Curious about psychedelics and shadow work? WOOP will be hosting a free online workshop on this topic. In this workshop, I will provide you with some information on how to use psychedelics for shadow work as well as one experiential exercise in identifying your shadow. Click here to sign up for it.
About the Author: Jessika Lagarde is a psychedelic-assisted medicine facilitator and integration coach, Women On Psychedelics co-founder, and educator in the psychedelic space. Jessika works with women growing through life transitions, guiding them through the preparation and integration of psychedelic experiences, and offers legal psilocybin sessions in the Netherlands. Learn more about her work and offers on her website.