A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing!

Updated: March 5, 2024

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with folks about Shadow Work, why it’s so important and liberating to do, and why I believe it should be accompanied by a well-equipped guide. The subject has become very popular lately, and it’s trendy, so I think it’s really important to talk about.

If you’re curious and maybe don’t know what it is, the shadow self was a term first coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. 

It’s the name for our dark sides, our wounded self, the parts of us we disown or hide, try to avoid, and deny. Often, this is the part of us that can stem from trauma, early childhood experiences, or inherited ancestral patterns.

All of us have a shadow self. Shadow work is the journey of self-revelation, naming, healing, and reclaiming. 

If we haven’t shed light on the shadow self, it will operate automatically in our lives. We’ll be unconscious of it, wondering why we’re in the same predicament over and over, watching our better plans unravel. We see it in our unconscious choices and behaviors that sabotage us and sometimes harm us. 

Often, we feel powerless to change it.

Because shadow work has been an integral part of my spiritual program for the past 38 years, I have changed radically. It’s not been easy, but it’s been a most rewarding journey. For me, it’s ongoing, not one and done, and I don’t do it alone.

Most of my shadow content has shown itself in the way I have behaved in relationships, the way I have given away my power, doing everything I could to escape conflict, and to repress my feelings. I attracted people who were not emotionally safe for me and found myself repeating painful patterns in a never-ending cycle.

I used to joke that if I was angry, I’d set myself on fire rather than express it. “I’ll show you!”

This month, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. 

Pisces season is about gentle endings and an opportunity to consider the quality of our spiritual lives, the health of our psyches. I think about how far I’ve come, how I’ve learned a new way to be, to set better boundaries, to love all the parts of me, and to not only look for the happy, joyous, love, and light, although those become so much more meaningful. They are what give me courage to keep going.

You can never truly escape the shadow. Light is needed to reveal the treasures in it, and there is no depth without shadow. Shadow and light go together. 

I like to think about my early days in recovery. I was in a women’s treatment center and I was released early February in 1986, a different person than when I went in. I went from hating myself, convinced I was worthless and unlovable, to someone full of hope and promise.

There were 30 women in the group, from all walks of life; we had very little in common on the outside, but we shared a common shadow: the life we were powerless to change as practicing alcoholics and addicts. We all had a lot of fear and shame, and this was the last house on the road for most of us.

While in treatment, we were introduced in a loving and gentle way to shadow work. We were told that if we didn’t take ownership of the shadow, it would lead us to more destruction. We had to look, but we wouldn’t have to do it alone.

And so, we began the shadow journey to learn how to see through the shame and let the light into those dark crannies and scary places we tried to escape through the booze and drugs. 

It was an incredible experience of healing and camaraderie as we began to open up together. We began to be brave, to have courage.

It was so important to have trained counselors as I was unable to see myself clearly, and at first, looking at this part of myself made me even more ashamed and frightened that I’d always be like that. How could I face this? How could I change? 

If you’d told me to love myself more back then, I couldn’t! I didn’t yet have the capacity.

I was still in the blame game, not wanting to own my part in things, not knowing how, being so scared of myself. I had reason to be scared. I put myself in danger many times after a violent experience in my teens solidified my inability to protect myself.

Yet, the counselors patiently sat with me, encouraged me to look, to accept where it all came from, to be accountable, make amends when I was ready, but mostly to unburden myself in the beginning and not carry this alone. 

I have always had help when I need to go back down into the shadows to retrieve a piece of me. 

So I love the fact that there are journals and books out there to help with this, as it’s been the most rewarding aspect of my personal growth journey. But, I say this with the greatest respect, going solo into Shadow Work isn’t always right for everyone. Some people genuinely need a skillful guide.

I integrate soft shadow work into all my courses and my oracle cards too. But it’s never confrontational; it’s always a gentle invitation to shed light in the dark, looking for treasure, and we do it together.

I always encourage people to seek a therapist or coach if they bump up against something they really need extra care to excavate. 

I remember how I began. If left to my own devices, without any objectivity, without someone to talk it through with, I’d probably not be here. I’ve seen what happens when someone isn’t ready to face something and how messed up you can get without a program or action plan to heal it.

So if you are ready to take that journey inward, if you’re tired of repeating the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome, if you’re reaching for a better life, maybe even trying to get sober, etc., consider doing this in a study group, working with a counselor, therapist, or coach. Maybe you need a 12-step program. Only you know.

There is liberation beyond your imagination if you’re ready for it. 

With the right guide, miraculous things can happen, your light glows brighter, and the world takes on a new shape as hope, humility, and gratitude fill those dark spaces with love. You become the person you’ve always wanted to be. 

So, go into the Shadows with a guide if you need to, on your own if you know you’re up for it. You’ll be so glad you did.

I wrote an extensive beginner’s guide to shadow work on my blog a while ago that you can check out here

Love you! Have a great week.


P.S. Here are some books you might want to read before you begin. 

Showing 11 comments
  • Joy

    Your light truly does shine so bright, a beacon of hope.
    Your warmth and integrity, your willingness to be vulnerable on such an enormous scale, leaves me in awe.
    Thank you for being YOU, Colette.

  • Wendy Rippentrop

    Hi you are amazing you seem to send emails or I see you online or your Oracle cards call to me saying look at me. this morning it was postcards from spirit. I’m learning to get in touch with who I am, I have stopped ignoring spirit, intuition the little voice in my head that used to make me think I was crazy till I really started to listen. With you and Debra Silverman life finally makes sense. Thank you ☺️

  • Julie Marcum

    Thank you for being you! Thank you for sharing your journey and for helping others in so many ways! I have your Wisdom of the Oracle cards and I love them! They are my favorite deck. I’m new to Spirit Jam, but I’m looking forward to this Saturday. Thinking of it makes me smile. I’ll also be at the Phoenix seminar, I’ll see you there on Friday! Sending love to you!

  • Margie

    How does one find a therapist that helps with shadow work? I certainly can’t do it alone.

    Thank you.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      I have gone to various therapists.. you just need to pick one who knows how to deal with trauma, the point is to start with someone.

    • Roni

      Hi Margie, I would like to add one thing to Colette’s reply. This is something my therapist has told me. If you don’t feel good about who you are working with, go find someone else! You do not need to feel stuck with whomever you try to work with. It is your health and your right to go find someone else you can work well with.

  • Maria Saenz

    Thank for this information. Very useful.

  • Loren

    Great message, and great book recommendations… with gratitude, Loren

  • Ed Kingston-Jones

    Thank you. I admire the generosity with which you share the truth of your past, which so many others would fight ‘leotards at dawn’ to lose in the shadowlands.

  • Eugenie F-S

    As always, I read this from you, Colette, you seem to post at just the right time, when I need it… I feel like I have hit a brick wall, now I know why. So I am off to look at your blog and read a book or two to see if I can do this on my own.

  • Rebecca Stafford 💚

    I’m in tears as I type this. Thank you Collette for shining your light on your shadows, and helping others do the same – including me. ✨️ I’ll do my best to pass on your baton of resources, honesty, insight and courage 💖

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