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Shadow work in counselling: Embracing all your characters

Aristotle, in his definition of tragedy, defines theatre as a space where a viewer, via observing the struggles, fears and challenges of the hero, has the ability to meet Catharsis. Tragedy is nothing but an imitation of life. Shadow work can help us reach that state of wholeness.

The theatre of shadow work

Have you ever noticed how sometimes different ‘actors’ from within us come to the forefront of our stage according to different ‘contexts’? Our professional selves, our friendly selves, our academic selves, our parental selves, etc. It makes one wonder if this is what Aristotle meant. Are all the characters on a theatrical stage a metaphorical external manifestation of the richness within each one of us? Let’s not forget that the heroes and villains all lived in the imagination of the writer at some point. 

And just like in a play, where we like and dislike some characters, some aspects of ourselves are embraced whilst others are denounced, fragmented and denied. Nevertheless the trap is as follows. All parts of us are there to protect and meet our needs. Denouncing these parts has further implications when it comes to the needs that they are there to protect. A rejected part is also a rejected set of needs. 

Wholeness cannot be attained if integration does not occur. Integration means seeing and accepting all the loved and despised characters of our play. For it is from that place of integration that our being can become coherent and our creativity can flow, while our abilities to think and feel align to serve our plans and dreams.

How does one start shadow work?

Enter the realm of shadow work, where we embark on a journey of self-discovery and integration. Shadow work involves a process for recognising our needs and integrating these parts into a cohesive whole. It helps with healing internal schisms and bridging the gaps between our fragmented selves, forming one coherent being. 

By further expanding into shadow work, one can shine a light on these hidden ‘actors’ within. It is like holding up a mirror to our subconscious, allowing us to explore and understand the intricate ‘play’ of our inner world. It helps us recognise our needs, address the underlying issues, and cultivate harmony within ourselves.

A the end of every Greek play, Catharsis forges the souls. Similarly, by attending to our inner ‘plays’ we can individually forge our whole selves. Think you could benefit from this process? Please do get in touch to schedule an initial consultation.

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