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Episode 155 Transcript: Shadow Work Part 1: Awareness and Surrender

Nancy: You will find yourself letting go of burdens you didn’t even know you were carrying, and you will begin to move along the, as yet unexplored, avenues inside your cave. And you get to do this by setting aside your judgments so you can see more clearly.

Nancy: Welcome to the Nancy Levin Show. I’m Nancy Levin, Founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, best-selling author, master coach, and your host. I help overachieving people pleasers set boundaries that stick and own self-worth, anchored in empowered action, so you can feel free. Plus, if you’re an aspiring or current coach, you are in the right place. Join me each week for coaching and compelling conversations designed to support you in the spotlight, as you take center stage of your own life. Let’s dive in.

Nancy: Welcome back to another episode of The Nancy Levin Show. And today I am super excited to share with you my brand new book coming out on June 18th. Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light, and this is a very robust shadow work journal. 

So first, for anyone who is not familiar with the term shadow work, let me explain that the term shadow, in this particular contex,t was first coined by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. And simply put, our shadow is made up of all the parts of ourselves that we hide, that we deny, that we suppress, that we don’t see in ourselves, both the positive and the negative. So our shadow essentially contains all the aspects that we reject out of shame or fear or disapproval. 

So the parts of us that we reject, we end up projecting out onto others. Anything we see in another person exists within us. So our shadow contains the qualities we don’t want to be and don’t think we are. These are qualities like irresponsible, lazy, needy, greedy. Our shadow also contains the parts of us that we would like to be, but think we’re not. Qualities like brilliant, intelligent, creative, courageous. 

So the goal of the soul is to be whole. And the truth is we are born whole and we expend a lot of energy in our lives, disowning parts of ourselves in order to make ourselves packageable, digestible, palatable to others. 

So as we’re young, we begin to decide it’s not good to be this and it is good to be that. We start deciding what is good or bad or right or wrong or negative or positive. And we begin crafting a persona. And this is the persona we put forth in the world. But as we’re doing this, we are actually cutting ourselves off from incredible potent resources that are inherent. So to me, doing shadow work is diving into the treasure trove of the parts of us we have been denying, bringing them to the light of day so that we can harness the potent power they have for us so that we can harness that power, that untapped resource and utilize it to benefit us as we move forward in our lives. This is how we reclaim our wholeness. 

So this journey of the shadow really is a seven step alchemical process. And beginning with this episode today and over the next several weeks, I will be sharing with you these seven steps leading up to the day my book is released. So today specifically, we’re going to cover the first two steps, which are awareness and surrender. 

And awareness is really important because let’s face it, we can’t face our shadow unless we’re aware of it. So the first step is to actually be in acknowledgement that we all have a shadow, each one of us, and our shadow is not bad, our shadow is not evil, our shadow is simply the place we put the parts of ourselves we have been denying and suppressing. 

So once again, we all have a shadow and it’s often really misunderstood. It’s the part of ourselves that we keep hidden and unknown, sometimes even unknown from ourselves. But here’s the deal, when we don’t tell the truth to ourselves, we create chaos in our own life, which ultimately creates chaos in our relationships with others as well. This is one of the most important reasons we want to dive deep into the shadow so that we are living in alignment with ourselves. We are living in right relationship with ourselves and ultimately with others. And again, any part of us that we can’t be with, again, those parts of ourselves that we are denying or suppressing or repressing, any part of us that we can’t be with it’s kind of like displacement. You know when you’ve got a bowl of water and you stick your hand in and water has to come out to make room for your hand, it’s kind of the same thing with these disowned qualities. As soon as we push something down into the shadow, it ends up displacing that quality out into someone else. So any quality we reject, we end up projecting out onto others and we see that quality in others. So anytime we are feeling activated by a particular quality in someone else, when we’re feeling triggered, when we’re feeling like they’re really bugging us, it’s a telltale sign that this is a quality we have disowned.

On the flip side, whenever we are especially enamored by equality in someone else, when we are feeling inspired or enthralled by someone else and the qualities they possess, we are also discovering qualities that we have pushed down into our shadow. So remember earlier I said the shadow contains the qualities we don’t wanna be and don’t think we are as well as the qualities we would like to be and think we’re not. So shadow work is a tool for returning to wholeness and integrating all parts of ourself. The parts we identify with strongly as well as the parts that we push away and deny. And we do this through a methodical process of a self-inquiry and discovery that ultimately leads to healing. And that is exactly the process that I am taking you through in my journal. Embrace your Shadow to find your light, and as I said, the journal is dropping on June 18th and right now if you pre-order your copy, I’ve got some bonus gifts that I’m going to give you for free. So you can simply go to nancy levin.com/journal, nancylevin.com/journal to pre-order the journal and receive my bonus gifts. 

So here’s the bottom line, instead of constantly looking outside of yourself to get your needs met, instead of consistently looking for external validation, shadow work allows us to look within to go deeper inside of ourselves. And this way you can be the key to your own wholeness. And the only way to truly experience wholeness is to ensure that all parts of you are attended to and working together for your benefit. Because you truly are an amalgamation of all pairs of opposites, from light to dark, feminine, masculine, good, bad, negative, positive, we encompass all of these aspects. And what’s really essential is that we look for the gift every single quality has to offer.

 So I first really began my immersion into the shadow in 2010 with my mentor and teacher Debbie Ford. And Debbie was credited essentially with bringing shadow work to the masses. And in my exploration of my own shadow with her, first in a weekend long event that I as the event director at Hay House was supposed to be producing. But instead she said to me, you are going to get your staff to work the event and you are gonna sit your ass in the chair and you are going to dive deep into the inner work. That was my first taste of what was living inside of my shadow. 

Then I decided to work with one of Debbie’s coaches and that process allowed me to ultimately leave an abusive marriage. That fall I decided to enroll in Debbie’s life coach training and certification program. Not because I wanted to be a coach, but rather I wanted to do the inner deep work. I wanted to continue exploring my own interior world and my inner landscape. I was so high on connecting the dots and seeing the constellation of my life come to light that once I had finished my training and certification, I knew my calling was to help other people get free. And so that is when I made the decision to begin the process of transitioning out of my role at Hay House into the role of being a coach. 

Ultimately, after Debbie passed in 2013, she passed the torch of her work onto me and I have been carrying her legacy ever since. And in 2019, I opened the doors to Levin Life Coach Academy, my own training and certification program for coaches, because there was a gap and so many people were coming to me for coaching who wanted to become coaches and I didn’t have anywhere to send them. And so my work is rooted in the shadow it always has been. And I have been evolving my own work as I have been evolving. And so whether it is in Levin Life Coach Academy or it is in my group coaching experience where we dive deep into the seven alchemical stages inside of Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light or any of my books at the heart is Shadow work.

Nancy: Hi, it’s Nancy interrupting my own show. I’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up in 2024, including a brand new book plus a group coaching opportunity, unlike anything else I have ever offered before. To make sure you are in the know, pop on over to my website now and sign up for my free weekly newsletter at nancylevin.com/newsletter so you don’t miss a thing. Okay, back to the show. 

Nancy: Here’s what I know for sure. I always say I had a front row seat and a a backstage pass to all of the teachers, the authors, the speakers when I was the event director at Hay House. And yet when I was in my dark night of the soul when I was in my crisis, the catalyst to making momentum in my own ability to change my life with shadow work. 

So shadow work at its core allows us to really investigate who we are, what makes us tick, what patterns and habits have created the life we’re living now. And how can we shift our beliefs, shift our commitments, and reclaim these lost pieces of ourselves and own and integrate these parts we’ve disowned so we can live the most fulfilling, satisfying, and meaningful life, ultimately the life we most desire. 

So because shadow work has had such tremendous impact in my own life, I feel incredibly passionate about making sure I share it with you. That was the impetus for creating this guided journal and ultimately this guided journey that I am honored to take you on. So again, we are going to begin today with awareness and surrender the first two steps. And in the coming weeks we will be exploring responsibility, authenticity, resilience, nourishment and wholeness. These are the seven steps of shadow alchemy. 

So today as we dive into awareness in this particular stage, we are shining a light on the shadow and taking stock of what is there. And in the second stage of surrender, this is when you get to let go of control and allow yourself to connect to the qualities of the shadow free of judgment. 

And here’s something to remember, so often we craft these personas that we put forth into the world because we’re afraid of what others will think. What will they say? I am going to let you in on a secret. Whenever we are fearing external judgment, the truth is we are already judging ourselves for that very thing. In other words, what is essential is that I get in alignment, I’m congruent, I’m in right relationship with myself, and when I am, I don’t have any velcro for someone else’s judgment of me to stick to. So remember, if you are living a life where you are constantly having your antenna outward on everyone else, the invitation here is to bring the antenna word. What do I think? What do I need? What do I feel? What do I want? How do I make sure I’m in alignment? How do I make sure I’m good and clean and clear with myself? Because once I do that, once I’m in right relationship with all aspects of my being, what someone else thinks of me will not land, will have nothing to stick to. 

So again, looking at the first stage of awareness, this is where we are shining a light. And I like to think of the shadow as a place within me. I often think of it almost like a cave within me. And awareness is when I put on my headlamp and the light is bright and I begin to see all these parts of myself that I have been repressing and suppressing and pushing down out of sight. The parts of myself I haven’t been proud of or the parts of myself I don’t like, or the parts of myself I am emphatic that I am not. And so down in the shadow go all of those qualities and all of those ways of being that I don’t wanna be. And again, I’ve been crafting this persona that I put forth to the world. 

But here’s the thing, we all do this. We all create a persona because we all on some level believe we have something we need to hide in order to be loved and accepted. We all have that belief that if you knew this about me, you wouldn’t love me anymore or you wouldn’t accept me anymore. But we also all have a deep yearning and longing to be loved for the truth of who we are. But we can’t be loved for the truth of who we are until we’re willing to reveal that truth. Shadow work is the way we learn how to reveal the truth.

So we must begin by becoming aware that: 

A. we have a shadow 

B. into the shadow we relegate these parts of ourselves that we don’t wanna be and don’t think we are, and the parts we do wanna be and think we’re not. 

And here’s the thing, we limit our power by keeping these parts of ourselves locked away. So this is why it’s so essential to begin reclaiming the parts we’ve disowned.

Ultimately, the shadow is our unconscious. And our unconscious has tremendous capacity. And our unconscious can play tricks on us. We want to bring the unconscious, conscious. The unconscious mind is a genius. It is taking in and processing everything the conscious mind is too busy or overwhelmed to feel. And we don’t have to love these characteristics at first, but awareness encourages us to remain curious and compassionate and to consider that it’s okay to embrace and own and integrate these parts of ourselves because shadow work gives us the tool to transmute them and we get to transmute the stories we tell ourselves and the beliefs that are formed in the shadow in response to the stories. So this is the beginning of how we move into shadow work with awareness. 

The next stage we move into is surrender. And while in the awareness stage, we’re shining a light into this cave of our shadow to help us acknowledge what’s here. Surrender is about lowering ourselves into the strange new realm and allowing for the element of surprise. In surrender, we’re letting down our defenses and allow for things not to be as they seem.

So most people relate to surrender as if it’s about throwing in the towel or giving up or giving in or waving the white flag. I invite you to relate to surrender as releasing your willful stronghold on needing anything or anyone to be any certain way. This is what allows us to be surprised. This is why curiosity as we engage with the shadow, is the most essential element. This way a shadow quality that might have at one time elicited fear has the potential to become an ally. And in this stage we start to release repressed emotions, many of which are the direct result of difficult events that have occurred and because of the challenges we faced, we pushed parts of us down and out of sight. 

So surrender can feel like looking into a bright set of eyes inside the dark cave. This can feel scary, it can feel cathartic, it can also feel exhilarating. You will find yourself letting go of burdens you didn’t even know you were carrying. And you will begin to move along the as yet unexplored avenues inside your cave. And you get to do this by setting aside your judgments so you can see more clearly. 

Surrender is actually a three-part process. And surrender itself is sort of sandwiched between two other states. Resistance and acceptance. So resistance usually comes from a fear that is connected to a part of your self-created identity, feeling like it has been deeply threatened. Surrender is then releasing the idea that any of the shadow qualities are inherently good or bad because truthfully, the qualities themselves are charged neutral. We are the ones who put the spin of negative or positive on them.

And then if surrender is about looking at the quality, not through rose colored glasses or dark shades, but rather a clear view, acceptance is about understanding and coming to terms with these shadow qualities. Acceptance that we are everything, every quality exists within us and acceptance allows us to feel compassion for ourselves as well as others. Once we have compassion for the qualities that exist within us, we can have compassion for the same qualities as they exist in others.

 So this is just a little taste of what is available for you inside of my new book. Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light. This is a shadow work journal of prompts and exercises and meditations. And I have created this for you because shadow work has had the most significant impact in my own life and I want the same for you. So go to nancy levin.com/journal right now, pre-order the book and you will also receive bonuses. 

One of the things I love about this book is that there is plenty of room in it for doing! So in other words, this is a real journal. This is the kind of book you’re gonna write in. This is the kind of book you’re gonna dog ear pages, you’re gonna underline. You are going to live with this book. This book has QR codes so that you can listen to meditations to help you integrate the work you’re doing as you’re journaling. So this is a multimedia multisensory experience and I am so excited for you to hold this book in your hands. Join me next week and we will be continuing our journey along the stages of shadow work.

Nancy: Thanks so much for joining me today. I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com to check out all the goodies I have there for you. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a rating and a review. I’ll meet you back here next week.