There’s often an emphasis in spiritual communities on shadow work and healing the shadow, which can look like inner child work, or dealing with personal trauma through a spiritual lens. While this work is incredibly important and will help you grow as a person, there is sometimes an accompanying belief that everything should just smooth out after you’ve spent time facing into and dealing with your shadow. This isn’t actually the way it works though, and if you’ve done shadow work you may know exactly what I mean. You can reflect and ritual to heal your shadow over and over and feel like you’re getting no where. This is because you’ve only done half of the work. The other half is to learn to establish new patterns of relating to yourself, to others, to the world, now that you have faced your pain and gained new insight.
This part of shadow work often looks like facing situations that remind you of the trauma you faced, and responding to them in a new way. It’s an arduous process of retraining. You meet a new person you really like only to find out they’re just like your terrible ex, and you’re presented with a choice in how to respond. Situations that trigger your old patterns continuously pop up, and every time you choose a different response you create change and invite a new kind of energy into your life. You make a mistake at work and though your ingrained response is to silently berate yourself, instead you treat yourself with gentleness. If you make enough of these new choices, one day you wake up and you’re loving yourself and all that healing work has created space for joy and fulfilling relationships and circumstances for you.
Healing is a lifelong, ongoing process. It’s a myth that you need to heal before you can manifest anything good for yourself. If this were the case, no one would ever have anything. Some people go through their entire lives without ever looking inward and dealing with their experiences and still have all kinds of goodness happening for them. However, doing this kind of healing work makes it easier to discern what is actually best and wisest for you to put your precious energy into manifesting as a magickal practitioner. When trauma or unresolved issues are interfering with your quality of life or your ability to establish patterns and relationships that are healthy for you, or you’re attracting people or situations that you don’t actually want when you’re doing magick, shadow work is typically necessary.
There’s something to be said for having balance between naval gazing and outward living. Remember that both are necessary. The inward work is useless if it doesn’t reflect outwardly at some point, and no one is every fully healed or without issue. So remember to cut yourself a break and deal with things as they come. You don’t have to reach some insane standard of perfection to live an effective and fulfilling life or to reach mastery over your craft. You’re already whole. Set a goal for your healing work (self love, solid confidence, more effective magick, etc.- whatever is important to you) and determine the steps to get there. It will require both reflection and outward action, but you’ll reach that goal.