What Shadow Work Meditation Taught Me About My Dark Side
It's hard to come to terms with the messed up parts of other people. But it's even harder to come to terms with the parts of ourselves that are weak or wrecked. During this time of self-isolation, it's brought me to the point of soul-searching. I began to dig deep and unfold the parts of me that didn't seem to be evolving or were simply untapped into. When we take a look back on our lives we always place our focus on what has gone good for us and the parts of ourselves that are most likable, but that's surface level understanding of who we truly are. If a person really wants to grow, then you also have to take a hard look at the parts of yourself that are least desirable and possibly even dark.
In psychology, the term "shadow" is defined as the hidden parts of self or the unconscious aspect of personality. I took it upon myself to dive deeper into the parts of me I didn't like to face because they may have scared me, made me feel uncomfortable or I just didn't have a clear understanding of those emotions. Using a technique called Shadow Work, I began to reveal the darker side of my thoughts and feelings to help me gain a better perspective of who and what I'm capable of. It's not all sunshine and roses diving into the eerie parts of self but, I was looking to bring myself to a healthier understanding of what things play a fundamental role in the way I respond, engage, and live my life.
I struggled with trying to understand why I'm always putting forth effort into my relationships, friendships and work and often not receiving reciprocity from the sources I gave my all to.
I realized that my upbringing had a great influence on the woman I am today and the core values I've held onto throughout my life. My identity was halted at five years old when I began to take on the burdens of an adult as a young child. My mother and father have been married for 35 years this coming July, but when I was a young child my father got sentenced to prison for 17 years over a physical altercation that turned deadly. The pain that my mother endured from my father being imprisoned and taken away from the lovely family environment they built brought us all great grief to the point that it was nearly unbearable. I decided then that I had to be a strong girl for my mother so that she could get throiugh these 17 years my father would be away with ease. She had enough on her plate and I never wanted to be another source of worry for her. I only wanted to bring her joy and relief. I adapted to emotional detachment and an ideology that showing fear or emotions only made me weak.
The technique of shadow work is simply about asking the hard questions we may be afraid to face. Unfortunately, that's not always an easy task to tackle. The answers won't necessarily flow to you right away but, it's about exploring the depths of self that may not be knowingly present. No one is perfect and we all have flaws, that's what makes us unique. Those flaws however need to be tended to just the same as the parts of ourselves that we nurture.
Starting the process of shadow work through journaling, I wrote down 10 things I liked about myself and 10 things I disliked about myself. Once I read over them, that's when I began to analyze the Who, What, Where, When and Why of both sides of myself. Good and Bad.
This technique of meditative journaling revealed what my dark side was trying to teach me about myself:
Diving into the WHO of my life showed me who made an impact on me and how it caused me to form other relationships with people. Because I saw things through an adult lens, I felt pressure to take on the role of authority very young.
I made decisions based around what would make other people happy throughout my life, often neglecting my own feelings and needs.
I morphed into what other people projected onto me, thinking I could handle more than the average person could, but never reciprocating that same energy back.
The WHAT dealt with the battles I choose to fight in my life and what I deemed necessary to prove a point on. I've always had a rebellious nature. I was trying to prove that I could handle things on my own because other people have always depended on me and I've always come through. Freedom is extremely important to me and I didn't like being told what to do because I felt as though I had things figured out. That, in turn, made me go out of my way to prove a point when anyone doubted me or what I was capable of. It made me feel exhausted many times to the point that I couldn't enjoy myself or I'd avoid engagements just so I wouldn't feel depleted if I had to make a point. I was always protecting the well-being of others but who really was there looking out for me. I chose to be of service to many when I should of chose my own sanity.
The WHERE and WHEN
Asking the question of WHERE and WHEN allowed me to see where I was willing to draw the line between right and wrong. I had adopted many of the beliefs, thoughts, and logic that I absorbed from my environment. My environment growing up impacted the person I am today deeply. Having boundaries in many of my relationships, whether it be personal or business-related, has always been an issue. When it came to family, friends or lovers, I'd be willing to do almost anything within my power to help them. Seeing the good in everyone, I struggled with knowing when to walk away at times because I could see the potential in people. In business, I'd take on a workload that was oftentimes extremely excessive, leaving me feeling stressed.
Growing up, I saw every woman that looked like me going the extra mile to make ends meet or please their loved ones, so I believed that's what I had to do as well.
I lacked a clear understanding of what boundaries I need to set for myself and oftentimes let people cross the line. Once the lines were blurred, it was hard to recognize what was actually right or wrong. I couldn't make clear decisions if I couldn't decipher what was necessary (or unnecessary) in my life.
The ultimate question of WHY I am who I am was based around the simple fact of my unchanged behavior. All the fear I kept inside, self-doubt, and lack of understanding was often expressed in manic behavior. The shadow or hidden parts of myself, especially surrounding my upbringing, never truly had a light shone on them. I had to get the courage to see which aspects of my life made me feel conflicted. I could never understand why certain events would continue to arise in my life repeatedly. Once I realized that areas of myself were blocked from the opinions and outlooks I adapted, I began to allow myself to see from other viewpoints and perspectives. That ultimately led me to realize that I lacked power over my circumstances when I put the well-being of others before myself.
Taking a look back on the pieces that make me who I am,is a complete eye-opener. Such simple questions being asked dug deep into the things that I believed were healed and whole. It's a process of discovering self. In order to achieve goals and obtain the self-love I desire, I had to accept the parts of me that aren't always praise-worthy.
Understanding that I am not everyone's keeper but instead my own keeper was the essential lesson I learned through the shadow work process.
I carried the burdens of others way too long and I had to learn to set clear boundaries between what deserves my energy and what doesn't. My strength was never tied to how much I could take on or handle, but how much love I shine into other people's lives.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Corein Carter is a Los Angeles-based blogger, content creator and podcaster. The New Jersey native has had a love affair with words since she began penning poetry in high school and later went on to study journalism at WSSU. The self-proclaimed "Naturalista" embodies all things spiritual, plant-based, and self-care in both her daily life and through writing. You may recognize Corein's captivating voice and well-rounded perspectives from her fast growing podcast "Play on Words". Follow her journey on Twitter and Instagram @inlivingcolored.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If there’s one part of the face that seems to be the most vexing to correct, it’s the under eyes.
This delicate area has a way of being tipped off by our irregular sleep patterns, stress, and the straining that comes from our computers and phone screens. From puffiness to dark circles, it can be irksome to find the right products to soothe our under-eye concerns. Thankfully, there’s one solution that delivers a brighter and more awakened look over time, and that’s under-eye masks and eye patches.
Eye patches are giving our under-eye bags an eviction notice because they can’t hang our glowing faces rent-free. The beauty of these patches is that they are designed to bring your eyes targeted results through concentrated doses of active ingredients directly to the skin under the eyes. Typically made of thin, gel-like material and infused with ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and even green teas, these small but mighty patches depuff your puffiness, brighten your dark circles, or tighten fine lines.
While every under-eye differs in its needs, every eye can benefit from an under-eye mask or patch that suits its concerns. And to help, we’ve put together the best under-eye patches to hydrate, soothe, and brighten your eyes.
The KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, 5-Pack, is a retinol-infused, all-natural product designed to rejuvenate your eyes. It promises to provide hydration, smoothness, reduced puffiness, and brightness without the use of chemicals. With ingredients like retinol to refine skin texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness, it's like getting 8 hours of beauty sleep for your eyes.
These cooling hydrogel under-eye masks from Topicals promise to fade the appearance of dark circles and discoloration in just 15 minutes. The set includes six masks and offers benefits that brighten, hydrate, depuff, and cool your under-eye area.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Brightening Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
Grab these eye contour gel patches to brighten the eye area and combat signs of aging using a powerful form of vitamin C called THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C.
BeautyBio's Bright Eyes consists of 15 colloidal silver-infused eye gel patches designed to provide instant depuffing, brightening, and revitalization to the delicate eye area within 10 minutes. They also contain natural collagen to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, which we love.
These viral hydrogel masks offer moisture and nourishment to rejuvenate tired-looking skin. Their Snail Secretion Filtrate contains "Mucin," an effective moisturizing ingredient that soothes damaged skin and delivers deep hydration, making it suitable for dehydrated and damaged skin types. Your under-eyes will thank you.
Try these caffeine-infused patches to reduce puffiness in the under-eye area. The product features clean, vegan ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and moisture delivery.
The Forever Eye Mask is designed to be the “last eye mask you'll ever need.” This thin, lightweight, and reusable eye patch can hold gels, serums, and creams close to the skin for better absorption, helping your skincare products work more effectively.
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