TikTok is making us reflect on our mental health again with its new trend, ‘Shadow work,’ as the hashtag has already amassed over 2.3B views. Still, we’re wondering why, as the psychology-based concept has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. On TikTok, users have been showcasing their spiritual and mental health journeys by sharing uncomfortable truths about themselves or family members, healing their inner child, and claiming to have done the emotional work via journaling with this specific journal: “The Shadow Work Journal: A Guide to Integrate and Transcend your Shadows” by Keila Shaheen.
As we know, turning to social media platforms to understand wellness concepts online and to expand spiritual journeys has been extremely popular this year. Still, the recent shadow work trend is taking things to a new level. It can be dangerous for our mental health and emotional well-being, especially if people aren’t seeking professional help to understand deep traumas and uncover harmful patterns that aren’t serving them anymore.
Shadow work is a concept developed by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the 20th century. The psychoanalyst believed that every person has a shadow self. The development of your shadow self usually begins in childhood, when you’re soaking up your surrounding environment, digesting parental expectations, and succumbing to cultural conditioning. As you carve out your identity, you’ll notice that some aspects and events in your life, and even your personality, have become insufferable, unacceptable, and unmanageable (which is normal). Still, there’s an urge to push them into your unconscious mind, which results in your shadow self. Uncovering your shadow self can make you feel whole, leading to total acceptance of your personhood.
It centers on the idea that we have repressed parts of ourselves due to a painful past, and integrating these parts can help us feel more whole. It’s important to note that the practice isn’t for everyone, as it can be triggering, given that it involves delving into the depths of your psyche and past to uncover and embrace aspects, behaviors, and events in your life that you’ve intentionally suppressed, denied, or rejected, which can be too painful and uncomfortable. Given how delicate this approach is to healing and improving your mental health – delving into the practice via the Internet may not be the best idea. Choosing to participate in delicate psychotherapy work without a professional therapist, psychotherapist, or trusted loved one can also alter your healing process, even if you are trying to improve your self-awareness and relationships and decrease stress.