The 2 Spiritual Bypasses of Shadow Work

During my 20+ years of personal development, I have come across many different spiritual theories. One that is bandied around a lot is the idea that we just need to forgive and love. Simple right?

I’ve tried to move straight to love and forgiveness many times, but in truth, it's not authentic. Underneath this so called love and forgiveness, I’m still pissed off.

When we jump straight to forgiveness and ignore feelings like anger, frustration, guilt or regret, we hit the first spiritual bypass of shadow work. In essence we are skipping the real work.

Now I understand why many people may think this spiritual bypass is a good one! At first glance remaining ignorant of our own shadow can seem like the easier option. Yet, by not acknowledging our shadow, we are at risk of it coming out at inappropriate times. This can cause serious damage to our personal relationships, strengthening the illusion of separation.

‘Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is’. Carl Jung

While it can be scary facing the shadow, Jung states that hidden in the shadow is our creativity and potentially positive aspects of our personality. Through exploration and acceptance of our shadow, these positive aspects and creativity can be brought to light.

How do you surrender to the depths of your shadow personality? This is a personal journey and will be different for every single individual. It is dependent on what needs to be acknowledged and moved through. Having been through this process myself, what I do know is that it requires a deep level of surrender, trust, willingness and courage. While others can support us through this process, ultimately when we commit to the facing our shadow, we are committing to becoming our own healer.

This leads me straight into the second spiritual bypass of shadow work – getting stuck there! Too much darkness and the potential to stay cemented in turmoil, poses a very real risk of becoming a powerful victim, rather than an empowered individual.

Being a powerful victim can be an alluring proposition. Tony Robbins talks about the six basic universal needs that drive human behavior, one of them being the need for significance. Being a victim and staying stuck in the muck, fulfills this need perfectly. Even though staying stuck in the shadow causes immense suffering, the ego’s need for significance can be so overpowering, that it can override a soul’s true desire for happiness, peace, success and love. If you are brave enough to consciously face your shadow, you must be courageous enough to rise back out of it, with wisdom.

'Shadow work is the path of the heart warrior'. Carl Jung

By diving deep into shadow work, we are passing through an alchemical process, turning our shadow into creativity and wisdom. This level of exploration comes with a warning; it is not for the faint-hearted. When I was in the throws of shadow work, I wanted to turn back many times! Yes, its confronting, but is it worth it? You bet!

Sarah McGahan