Perhaps you’ve read one of my books or heard about the Shadow from a friend. Or perhaps you just know that this is one of those times in your life when you need support and guidance from someone who understands your struggle. It’s my intention to offer you a safe place to explore your deepest dreams and desires, your pain and your challenges – and to find the ways in which you can stop sabotaging yourself and attain a deeper fulfillment.
• If you desire inner peace and self-acceptance but keep criticizing yourself; if you want to make peace with your family but feel anger, resentment, jealousy, or rejection,
Then your Shadow may be emerging with a hidden message for you.
• If you are single and genuinely want a relationship but keep choosing unavailable or inappropriate partners; if you are in a relationship but keep having the same arguments,
Then your Shadow may be sabotaging your intentions for an unseen but valuable reason.
• If you are trying to reach a goal — lose weight, stop procrastinating, break an addiction — but your efforts keep failing;
Then your Shadow may be obstructing your goals in an effort to meet a deeper need.
• If you long to know yourself more deeply but don’t know what questions to ask; if you want to do a spiritual practice but don’t manage to find the time,
Then spiritual Shadow may be blocking your way.
In every case above – our inner world, family, relationships, spiritual life — our conscious intent is blocked by an unconscious part of us – a Shadow. When we uncover its intent – the gold in the dark side – we can make new and healthy choices that transform our lives.
My blog is a good place to learn more about Shadow-work. You will find my most recent content below and previous posts are located in the menu under blog or to the right, as recent posts.
Dancing With the Shadow: A Conversation With Connie Zweig
Interview originally published in Psychology Today
For the past 30 years, Dr. Connie Zweig has been a pioneer in fields of shadow work and mindfulness practice. The founder of the Center for Shadow Work and Spiritual Counseling of the AIWP, she received her doctorate in depth psychology, trained at the Los Angeles Jung Institute, and has been in private practice in Los Angeles for over two decades, helping thousands of people detect unconscious sources of secret feelings and behaviors, and transform them into positive, constructive patterns. Dr. Zweig is the author of The Holy Longing and A Moth to the Flame, and co-author of two seminal books in the field, Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow. We spoke recently about the secret wisdom to be found in the shadow, and how to bring mindfulness to our forbidden zones, as well as compassion, on the path to of authenticity.
Mark Matousek: How should we think about authenticity when the “self” is made up of so many inconsistent parts?
Connie Zweig: We have all had the experience of a shadow character or part of ourselves erupting in spontaneous anger, lying, greed, or feelings of jealousy. We recognize the eruption in a critical comment we don’t mean to make, or in a repetitive fight with our partner, or some unacceptable behavior we can’t understand. Those parts are in all of us, and they are formed in our childhood through what psychology calls “defenses.” Sometimes those parts are repressed and sometimes they are projected onto others, but these forbidden feelings are unacceptable to our self-image and typically denied by the ego. “That’s immoral—I’d never do that,” or “That’s impolite.”
Most people are aware that there is some part of them correcting other parts, but they may not be aware of a higher self or what we could call an intuitive self. It’s the part that allows us to come back into equilibrium, and learn how to observe the shadow parts. To observe and do shadow work, we need the experience of being centered in a higher self. That is why our spiritual practice is so pivotal.
Without space inside our minds to observe forbidden feelings and behaviors, they take over. When they do, we feel controlled and overshadowed by them. For example, the moment you feel road rage and flip the finger at another driver, you lose your center and capacity to witness. In your anger, you’re unconsciously identified with that shadow figure. My work is about teaching people how to break that resultant unconscious identification of “I’m bad,” or “I’m an angry person,” and come back to the center. They learn to have a relationship with that part, and dialogue with that part, in order to recognize that it is not the essence of who they are as spiritual beings. And in this way, they connect to their authentic selves.
MM: Are you saying that without the ability to witness our thoughts the identification with our shadow is too strong for us not to be caught in destructive behavior?
About Connie Zweig
Connie Zweig, Ph. D., is a unique counselor who is in private practice in Los Angeles and also has an extensive telephone counseling service. As co-author of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow, she has taught seminars nationwide and has been called the Shadow Expert. She can help you to uncover why you behave self-destructively and how you can choose different actions to gain different outcomes. With a doctorate in depth psychology, two years’ training at the Los Angeles Jung Institute, and ten years in practice, she can go where others fear to tread: into your dark side. And she can help you to find the gold that lies hidden there.