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No Bad Parts - Integration through Shadow Work Therapy

Shadow work - No bad parts


Shadow work therapy - There are No Bad Parts

When we are experiencing inner conflict, strong negative feelings, or overwhelming emotions, we might reach out naturally in the hope that work with a therapist will eradicate or remove these bad parts from our personality. I believe that there are no bad parts and that inner shifts come from transforming parts that are causing us problems through working with the burdens, responsibilities, beliefs and emotions that they carry.

The emerging view of the psyche is that of multiplicity. We are not in fact just ‘one mind’ but a collection of individual parts, voices, energy systems, sub personalities, complexes or inner-selves: we have an inner community.

Shadow work therapy invites you to bring intention, awareness and curiosity, moving towards and actively inhabiting these spaces, these voices, these parts that comprise who you are. It is through the identification, separation, exploration, and the process work between parts in a shadow work session that energies become unstuck; dynamics and patterns can be transformed; beliefs are reframed; powerful emotions and those energies that are stuck in the body have the opportunity to be fully expressed, moved, and allowed to flow; and through this processing, your innate power and sense of authentic identity has the potential to be reclaimed.

Healing and integration

A significant part of the healing and lightness that we can carry forward from any therapeutic work comes from building self acceptance and compassion for one's self, and with that a capacity for a greater inquiry, holding and understanding of those offending parts. When we are in a more intimate relationship with the ourselves in this way, what emerges is greater discernment and choice on how we navigate our lives.

Integration of the more troublesome aspects is about knowing intimately these parts of ourselves, knowing them so well that as we work with them we can hold them gracefully, with a sense of responsibility, knowing this weakness, this limitation, this old habit pattern, this trigger point, holding and supporting in an ongoing way these difficult and wounded parts that are the ‘works in progress’ within our lives.

As we do this we find that we can forgive those same limitations in others and our connections and relationships deepen. This in turn brings greater meaning into our lives.

Building resilience through inner relational awareness

I hear my returning clients say, ‘I now notice when that voice comes in, and when that part is present’. Stepping into these places with intention in order to get to know them more fully in facilitated shadow work allows a relationship to be built within which the Self can become more aware day-to-day of how the part plays out. This relating to our inner parts is a skill that once introduced naturally develops outside of the sessions as your awareness naturally expands. In this awareness is a spaciousness: triggers are noticed rather than reacted to, and choice of how to respond to what happens to us emerges.

It seems to me that the happiness we all seek is an emergent property of being in authentic relationship with one's self. We are much more likely to find ourselves in authentic connection with ourselves if we know ourselves authentically; have met and explored our inner world; and have approached, experienced and worked with our shadow aspects.

In the recent documentary Stutz (2022), American psychotherapist Phil Stutz speaks to this essential idea of building relationships with the aspects of self in order to bring about emotional healing. Talking about a client’s inner child part he says, “It doesn't matter if it looks good or looks bad, it is the process of constantly relating to it that matters. It is important to keep paying him attention. If you don't pay him attention he will disrupt things for you in order to be noticed”.

And this is exactly how the shadow and the psyche lets us know what needs attention in order for us to break through, to grow and move towards wholeness: we start to notice repeating detrimental dynamics in our relationships; we notice the disruptive patterns of speech or behaviour that appear to be beyond our control; we notice our compulsive or impulsive drives; we notice that gnawing sensation or underlying challenging emotion; we realise that we have had enough of those explosive emotions that rupture our relationships, the acting out that no longer serves, the shutting down that keeps us isolated… all these symptoms are signs of a wounded psyche actively seeking healing.

Healing is within reach, and as Stutz says, the disruption will continue until we take notice and decide to do something about it.


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