By Alina Frank, EFT Universe Level 3 Trainer
We are living in the most extraordinary of times. I can’t recall any period in my lifetime when I’ve seen more people so intensely angry, afraid, or depressed. I am now accustomed to seeing clients feeling like this day in and day out in my private practice. It does not matter where their allegiances may be on the political spectrum. But in addition to my clients, I cannot open my computer or turn on my mobile device without being confronted by raw emotions pouring out from the people I love. In the last few months I’ve heard several spiritual teachers say that now is the time that we should all be doing “deep shadow work.” I agree. This is why I’m writing this article on how EFT and Matrix Reimprinting, in fact, do just that.
Just What Is Shadow Work?
The reference to one’s “shadow” came originally from Carl Jung who famously said, “What you resist persists” and “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Jungian psychology refers to the shadow as the unconscious part of our personality that the conscious ego doesn’t identify as itself.
This is due to the fact that on some level, we do not wish to accept those negative aspects of ourselves. Doing shadow work usually refers to a process of confronting and working with those negative parts. But I also want to point out that positive aspects can also lie in the shadow (subconscious). Think about people with low self-esteem and low self-confidence who can’t see all the good they embody. The shadow can thus be described as that which lies beneath your conscious awareness, both positive and negative that you don’t wish to accept about yourself.
“Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is,” Jung wrote. He also described the shadow as reactionary, irrational, and prone to “projections.” The less you work on your projections the more you are bound by illusions, and your sense of what is real is hidden. The projection is the negative aspects of ourselves that we feel not ready or unsafe to witness and take responsibility for and instead “see” only in others.
If you have ever told yourself you are going to do something and just the opposite happens, then your shadow is likely at play. If you don’t deal with your shadow, your shadow will deal with you, is another way of looking at this. There is a “heyoka” or trickster quality that seems to be imbued in our shadow.
How Projection Plays Out in Our Lives
When we have as part of ourselves a sense of inferiority or feeling of weakness, it is not uncommon to see this particular quality with greater clarity when it shows up in another person. It may appear in our daily lives as a moral deficiency in someone else, rather than within us. At play are self-protective mechanisms that we engage in routinely. We learned as children that there were parts of ourselves that weren’t acceptable to our parents or others whose opinions we cared about.
If you were told that you shouldn’t be angry or to stop crying or you have to stop bragging when you did something you were proud of, then you probably learned to bury those emotions, traits, and impulses. You could have also learned this from just watching your parents and caregivers do this. One way to see projection in action is to tell yourself, “If you spot it (in another person), you got it.”
Here are some common examples:
You see your partner’s anger and feel he/she is being hostile and you tell him/her so. Meanwhile you are ignoring that behind your cool exterior you are angry, too.
You are bullied by a coworker, who is unaware that he/she feels weak and vulnerable at work and instead is lashing out at you.
As a parent, you can’t admit your own feelings of failure but want your child to be perfect. Or you feel afraid and anxious but, instead of dealing with that, you send your child to a therapist because he/she is acting out.
You hear a lecture by a guru and think it’s amazing but don’t recognize how brilliantly you can speak on a topic that you know a lot about.
How Is EFT a Form of Shadow Work?
- Shadow work involves acknowledging that part of you that you don’t easily acknowledge. By asking yourself to stop and reflect on what you truly feel about any given situation, while tapping, offers you the opportunity to acknowledge it fully.
- Traditional shadow work involves having compassion for yourself, as it’s not easy to own what you feel or how you have reacted in a situation. EFT uses the Setup Statement “I deeply and completely accept myself” as a form of self-compassion.
- Working with your shadow is about asking for hidden motivations in your behavior. With EFT, you are working directly with the subconscious mind and those motivations are brought to the surface when you tap.
- By working with each layer of the onion, we open ourselves to the underlying beauty of who we are. In shadow work, we see the origin of the shadow and the gifts that are there for us to use. EFT does this very quickly. Once the psyche feels safe in the tapping process, then what was once hidden is revealed. Once the hidden is revealed and tapped on, you can see the gift that lies at the heart of every trauma.
A Four-Week Process for Using EFT to Address Your Shadow Directly
People that find and use EFT are courageous. Not everyone is willing to try something that openly states it’s going to process your emotional garbage. Give yourself credit for doing this work!
Here are four weeks of exercises using EFT to help you work on your shadow:
- Week 1: Get a journal and, for one week, try to write down each time someone triggered you at home or work. These are all the times in the course of a week where you “lost it,” were pissed off, or experienced great sadness.
- Week 2: Tap on each incident, doing your best to get the intensity down to a SUD level of 0. Once you have done that, ask yourself when and where in your life you have acted that very same way. Tap on the shame, guilt, embarrassment, etc., about those times.
- Week3: Write down each time that you said something or did something that seemed to “come out of nowhere.” These are the things you shake your head about and think, “Who was it that said that?” Those are your unacknowledged shadow parts that took over. Tap on what you feel about each one of those incidents that triggered your shadow’s emergence. Once you’ve done that, you may naturally be led to the origins of those triggers from your childhood.
- Week 4: Write down all the times you gave praise or really felt admiration for someone else and identify the personality traits in them that caused you to feel this way. At the end of the week, ask yourself how YOU are like that and what leads you to suppress that part of you. Tap on any feelings that come up that make you feel uneasy or unsafe in expressing that quality or perhaps why you don’t deserve to appreciate that aspect of yourself.
- Work with a professional on your Big T traumas. Big T’s are those events in which you felt your life was in danger at the time. This can be a perceived danger as well. Accidents, abuse, and living through natural disasters are some examples of Big T traumas. With each one of these traumas, you formed a belief about yourself and/or the world and other people. In Matrix Reimprinting, we go directly to those fragmented parts and carefully listen, assist, and help them find resources that will ultimately lead them back into integration.
Though it may not be easy to look at these “most interesting of times” as rife with opportunity, I find that there may never have been a greater opportunity in my 50 plus years to witness a more potent time more ripe for EFT and Shadow Work to be done. The opportunity is here to transform pain and intense opposition into deep personal healing.
Alina Frank is an international EFT and Matrix Reimprinting trainer, author, practitioner, and research contributor.