March 30, 2022

Ending the Cycle of Family Dysfunction: 6 Benefits of Shadow Work.

I used to be highly critical of everyone and everything around me, including myself.

The last part was likely what others never saw.

I led those around me to believe that my life was perfect. By all accounts, I was a fraud.

I had refused to allow my emotions to get the best of me. I had denied and avoided any and all emotions that were inside of me. I even refused to let others in. I feared people around me knowing the real parts of me, and in that fearful state, I became a perfectionist. A perfect version of the person who I was pretending to be.

We all have fears—fears of failure, fears of being judged, fears of not being liked, and fears of not being accepted for who we truly are.

Often, without realizing it, deep inside of us, we have some devastating negative beliefs about ourselves that we do not wish to acknowledge. This denial can form a false version of ourselves. A mask we create that tells the world the version of us we only want them to see.

Where do these fears come from?

Some of us come from dysfunctional homes. And sometimes, we build a false perception of our families and childhoods, saying everything is normal, lying to ourselves and others to keep ourselves from admitting more uncomfortable truths.

Many of us have built our lives according to things we were taught, and more often than not, our relationships growing up tend to mirror those we experienced in childhood. So, if we lived in dysfunctional environments, our relationships tend to mirror the dysfunctional homes we lived in as children. We may have played a role that served our dysfunctional family system and were not able to be ourselves. We learned not to question anything, to follow the unwritten rules, to live in denial, and live in the fantasy world that was created.

To cope with the environment where I grew up, I became a perfectionist. I wore my perfectionism as a badge of honor. I was proud of the perfect girl I was pretending to be. My relationship with my now husband, however, had suffered a great deal because the person I was pretending to be was a mirrored version of the relationship I had witnessed between my parents when I was growing up.

When we’re afraid (of criticism, failure, and rejection), we’ll do anything to try to become “perfect.” Of course, the mask of perfection also separates us from what we want the most in our relationships: real intimacy, love, and acceptance of our true self.

As adults, we may be surviving the effects of being brought up in dysfunctional environments. In these cases, for many generations, there has been a long history of family dysfunction, and at least one parent’s dynamics with their own parents is also dysfunctional. Most of the time this cycle remains unbroken.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can work with your unconscious mind to uncover the parts of yourself that you repress and hide from yourself.

In psychology terms, our “shadow” is the part of ourselves that we try to deny or keep hidden. Our shadow also includes deep traumas and wounds that live within us that we have refused to take a closer look at.

Shadow work is the intentional process of admitting the parts of ourselves we’ve ignored and repressed. The shadow work requires us to look at aspects of our lives and ourselves that we may have been avoiding, consciously or unconsciously. It calls us to revisit memories of our childhood, our trauma, or any pain we may have experienced. This work in our life highlights the limiting beliefs and patterns that no longer serve us.

Once we have identified if we come from a dysfunctional family, the next step is to acknowledge and recognize those behaviors and habits in ourselves. When we get honest with ourselves about who we are, where we came from, and what we’ve been through, we can finally begin to break the generational curses we’ve been exposed to.

When we study our family members and their family history and we analyze every part of their traits and personality, we trace back the generational curse of family dysfunction.

Ending the dysfunction is the process of seeking to understand the root cause and effect of where and how the dysfunction in our lives came to be.

Some of the benefits and the ways we grow from doing the shadow work are:

>> We begin to understand our surprising behaviors, traits, and triggers.

>> We begin to work through our feelings of fear, grief, anger, and shame.

>> We learn how to transform our old negative behavior patterns.

>> We become more confident in the choices we make and learn how to achieve our own dreams and goals.

>> We begin to appreciate ourselves for who we truly are.

>> We learn how to set new healthy boundaries in our lives.

This is how we become our true authentic selves. Healing ourselves inspires and influences the people around us to do the same, making a positive impact on others’ lives.

“When you show up for yourself, follow your heart and lead with love, you become a positive influence on the world.” ~ Gabby Bernstein


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