25. July 2017 Sam Ryter

Shadow Work – A Guide For Self Discovery

Welcome to “Shadow Work – A Guide For Self Discovery”

Over the last few years, while observing and working people, I have discovered a tendency that seems to be so profoundly true, that I have no doubt that there is at least a bit of truth in the following statements.

I have observed that, the deeper a person gets to know him or herself, the more they seem to trust themselves, to trust in life, and also to trust in others.

Now what does it mean to know yourself? 

There are many parts of ourselves that we are aware of. Our personality, the self-image, or our personal story.

Our minds tend to think that we know exactly who we are. “After all I am with me all the time. I know exactly what’s going on. And where the problems are.”

However there are parts within, that people are not conscious about. Parts that run most peoples lives. Parts that I call ‘shadows’.

Shadows, because there are parts within us that we like to keep in the dark. Parts that we don’t want to know about, parts that we supress, parts that we hide – even from ourselves.

For example a husband is beating his wife because she didn’t do what he expected her to do. If we look at the man’s action from the outside, we can only see violence, but if we have a closer look to that mans internal world, we can find, that his behaviour is simply an act of insecurity. There’s a hurt and weak little boy within that is searching for a way to restore his self-worth.

Now this is just a simple example, but it clearly shows that this man is runned by his own shadow without being aware of it. Instead of looking within and experiencing what this ‘boy within’ really needs (starting to get to know his shadow), he moves into blaming and fighting the outside. In this case: His wife.

This is an act of ignorance. He shifts the responsibility to another person.

“Oh, dearest, you can’t hurt me — only I can do that.” Byron Katie

Now my question: Will he suffer again when a similar event will happen?


Because the wife can change, his surroundings can change, but he will act and react in a similar fashion until he faces his shadows and looks within.

Where can you run to hide from yourself?

This happens too often. People get into fights, experience anxiety, hurt other people physically or emotionally, suffer depression and the list goes on and on.

Some suffer for they whole lives, blaming and fighting the outside – without being aware of the real reasons for their sufferings.

Getting to know yourself as an individual is to get to know all of you. And that includes your darkest shadows.

The better we get to know ourselves, the better we are able to deal with what life brings us. We move from the victim into a creator space. We don’t see life happen happen to us anymore but for us.

What is shadow work?

Once we shine a light on our shadows, we can start to understand ourselves better, we automatically build compassion and self-love towards ourselves.

Your shadows slowly disolve, the more light you shine on them.

And this is where shadow work starts.

Shadow work is about facing the parts within you that you don’t want to know about. It’s about looking and observing and loving yourself for all that you are.

Instead of blaming the circumstances, it is having the courage to look within.

This is an essential part of self-discovery and of our awakening to our truest potential. We can keep on running away from our shadows. It seems to be more comfortable ‘not to face the truth’, we are naturally scared of the unknown.

But like the man in our example: By running away one will never be free and will face the same difficulties over and over again.

So there really is no time to waste.

Benefits of knowing your shadows

I mentioned a few ‘benefits’ that we can observe from the ‘outside’ already above. But there is something deeper that ‘knowing your shadows’ brings with itself. It’s a deep sense of peace.

A sense of love for everything. The “good” and the “bad”.

The ugly turns into beautiful, the evil and the fear of the evil slowly dissolve.

We fall in love with the unknown. With life itself.

We are no longer ‘controled’ by fears.

As people start to know their shadows, they stop being a victim of their own behaviour and circumstances.

It’s an act of self-love, of self-acceptance. A journey back to yourself.

How to spot a shadow?

Usually people are runned more by their shadows than they think. The ‘key’ here is to become aware of the moment, when that happens.

The unaware can’t create a conscious change.

Based on Robert Augustus Masters (Phd.) work, I’m listing and explaining the most common characteristics that he and I see in people when they are triggered and runned by their shadows.

These patterns are showing up over and over again. If you find yourself being triggered and reacting in one or more ways that are listed below, it will be a sign for you that you are not really acting from your truth, but that you are simply runned by a shadow of yours.

1. There is an emotional overreaction to something

I love to use this example of being called: “Asshole” by someone. Reactions to such an ‘attack’ can be different from person to person. One person might get upset; another person wouldn’t take this personally at all and instead feels compassion for the ‘attacker’.

Whenever you catch yourself overreacting, feeling attacked, or getting really hurt emotionally (for example if someone questions you), it’s very likely that you are reacting from a shadow within you. It’s the time to learn and to look within. What is it triggering within you?

2. There is an “Us” vs. “Them”-Attitude

It’s very easy to project what we don’t like about ourselves to other people. This might sound as an unpleasant truth, but there is a lot of gold in that realisation. Before we judge others, it’s worth to look within. Byron Katie has her ‘work’ built on an incredible self-inquiry process. Relationships are our mirrors. And each time you are upset, angry or stressed about someone it shows you a big part of yourself that you may supressing or denying within you.

3. Overvaluing being positive

I have been living by this pattern for a long time. And still sometimes I’m catching myself being overly positive. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being positive. But it’s likely that a shadow is running you if you are ‘forcing yourself’ to be happy or positive all the time.

It’s as if we have positive blinders on. This easily leads into a negative attitude towards our ‘bad’ emotions. What happens then is that people pressure themselves to be in a certain emotional mind frame. I see this showing up also in spirituality where people become ‘overly spiritual’ neglecting every ‘bad’ emotion.

This is a shaming process because we ARE going to slip. And then we beat ourselves up for having ‘bad’ emotions.
But there are no negative emotions. Emotions simply ARE. The crucial thing is not that we have different emotions but rather what we do with them.

For example: When we feel anger, we can get aggressive and attack someone. But the aggression and the attacking are simply reactions to anger. This might be seen as a ‘negative’ state but it has nothing to do with anger itself. So in that context: What we are doing with the anger would be considered as negative.

4. Making the same mistake over and over again

Making the same mistake over and over again or keeping on attracting the same sort of abusive people, clearly indicates that our conditioning is running the show. Our subconscious attitude to life. And to take it one step higher, if we’re identified with our conditioning (or in other words: identified with our thought-patterns – something that happens very often), we think we’re the ones doing that. But in fact, doing the same mistake over and over again is a signal that our shadow is running us and we haven’t really looked at what we are resisting to.

5. Saying we’re fine when we’re not

Everybody knows that. Instead of saying what we truly feel, we say we’re fine. Often this can be an avoidance of what’s really occurring. If we say we fine, and we would ask ourselves “what am I actually feeling?” We might find a lot more. It’s worth to admit it at least to ourselves how and what we are feeling because often we even lie to ourselves.

6. Not saying we’re sorry, when we have clearly hurt someone else

Saying sorry can be connected with shame. Not to admit that we made a mistake or that we were wrong (even though deep inside we know about our mistake) is a clear sign that we are dealing with a shadow. People who don’t say sorry hold back, because it would be too painful to say it. To admit a mistake takes courage and this is an incredible opportunity to practice and to blow the whistle on ourselves. This not only allows us to reconnect with the other but also gives us a tremendous emotional relief in the long-run.

Shadow Work is a Journey Back to Yourself

As I mentioned above already. Shadow work is an essential part of self-discovery and of our awakening to our truest potential. We tend to run away from the truth. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to face the truth.

So uncomfortable that some people prefer to ‘lie’ to themselves for their whole lives.

The irony: The mind runs away from the truth, in order not to be “hurt”. But by running away from the ‘uncomfort’ we create exactly what we are trying to prevent so much. We hurt ourselves. We suffer. And we are slaves to parts that we don’t even know about ourselves.

But this can be a moment of truth now. And we all have the ability to face it.

It is literally a journey back to yourself. And it’s not a scary one. But a beautiful one. A journey of freedom, of understanding, of love.

All it needs is your intention to become more aware of the things that you don’t want yourself to know about.

What is your most common reaction?

Can you relate to one of those 6 patterns mentioned above? Which is the one you can most resonate with and see yourself usually tap into? Post it into the comments below!

If you feel inspired by this article, then please share it!

This is one of the most important discoveries to make. If you like to get to know more about shadow work and go deeper with yourself then enroll in the “FEARLESS HUMAN CONNECTION BLUEPRINT”, coming out on August 7th. An 8 part online video course. Subscribe to my email list on the homepage and I will keep you up to date with the launch of the product. You will also have the chance to get a 50% discount for the whole course (!)


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Sam Ryter

Sam Ryter is an author and professional coach. He helps people to create deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others, the world and themselves.