Our shadow parts can run deep in our subconscious. I’ve touched on shadow parts, self, and shadow work in a previous episode, but today I wanted to talk more about it.
Our shadow parts are parts of us that have been repressed or hidden in our subconscious. We don’t do this consciously; it is all subconscious. It’s because we pick up on things growing up from caretakers and people of authority. We experience pressures, societal expectations, and norms. These are often based on family expectations and values, but also based on gender, socio-economic status, race, sexuality.
Our shadow parts aren’t necessarily bad things either. They could be a skill or interest we had growing up but were told not to waste our time on because it won’t offer a solid financial future.
Maybe you were told that you were a dreamer, and not in a positive, supportive way. More so in a shame provoking way. Because of the feeling of shame, parts of you caught on that this trait is no longer valuable, it becomes a threat to the system, therefore gets exiled away.
We all have shadow parts, or as we call them in IFS, vulnerable parts that have been exiled away for the sake of the system, for various reasons. But today I wanted to focus on women and what ingrained beliefs we pick up living in a patriarchal society. The ones rooted deep in our shadow.
Our shadow parts & the seven deadly sins
I just bought the book On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good, by Elise Loehnen. After listening to her talk about this on a couple of podcasts.
If you aren’t familiar with Elise, she has co-written twelve other books, was the chief content officer of goop, and she co-hosted the goop Podcast and the goop Lab on Netflix. And is currently the host of Pulling the Thread Podcast.
In this new book she delves into the 7 deadly sins and how it impacts all aspects of women’s lives in patriarchal societies. Even if we are not religious, were brought up in a religious household, or had overt religious influences growing up. She explains that this is because our patriarchal system we all live in is rooted in these 7 deadly sins to enforce behavior and has covertly seeped into all aspects of women’s lives subconsciously. It has become the silent foundation for how women are seen, judged, and expected to behave.
Seven Deadly sins and women
I’ll share the examples that she gives from the book on the seven deadly sins and how she relates back to women:
Sloth: Good women are tireless and hardworking. We have no need or desire to rest.
Envy: Good women do not want or strive for more than they have. Nor do they openly covet the skills or achievements of others.
Pride: Good women are not intimidating or confident. They work hard to appear modest, minimizing, and focused on finding other people who can champion their ideas.
Gluttony: Good women strive to me thin, really as small as possible.
Greed: Good women don’t negotiate on their own behalf, never ask for more, appear grateful for what they are given, and avoid talking about money. They often spend faster than they save and strive to be generous “to a fault”.
Lust: Good women want to be seen as sensual, warm, and inviting of sex, but not overtly interested.
Anger: Good women are assertive only on behalf of other people. They are quick to forgive and nonconfrontational, content to sacrifice their needs and embrace discomfort to preserve the peace and maintain status quo.
How your shadow runs deep
These seven deadly sins become subconscious aspects of us, influencing how we see ourselves and how we are seen in the world.
Do any of these resonate with you?
The society that we live in is historically structured to keep women small and against one another. This is why this book, and talking about these topics are so important to shed a light on what has happened to us and what continues to happen to women in our society.
What does this have to do with our shadow parts? These seven deadly sins become our shadow parts. We learn very early on that we need to be “good” and if we are indulging, prideful, want to take up space, and so forth, then we will not be loved, accepted, undeserving or unworthy.
It also shows how deep our shadow goes. This is rooted in systems, patriarchal systems that this country was made. All based on shame. Our patriarchal society uses shame to dictate women’s lives. Therefore, when we do push through these societal expectations and norms as we have been trying to for so long, we get constant pushback. And even when we think we have come so far, because in many ways we have, we are still stifled by these unspoken rules dictating how we perceive the world. And how the world perceives us.
Women are playing small
When we are playing small, trying not to be seen, we cannot be the magical beings that we were put on this earth to be. Our true nature is stripped from us.
So, let me ask, How have you played small? How have these seven deadly sins played a role in your life? When we think about it from this perspective it is like a veil has been lifted. Have you denied yourself pleasure out of fear of being called a slut? Have you not taken credit for something awesome you did because you didn’t want to look prideful? How many times have you stifled your anger because “good girls don’t show anger?”.
As a matter of fact, have you ever said, “I’m so angry, I could cry?”. I know I have, and I never realized this was a conditioned response. I was in EMDR training, years ago, as I was processing something, those words came out of my mouth. At the time, one of the trainers was walking by and said “no you don’t. That is something else trying to take over. Allow yourself to feel the anger. The tears are something different. It’s how you were taught to handle anger.”
This blew my mind. How many of you have done this?
your shadow is deep because the patriarchy
Because these things can be so innate, a fixture in our psyches, it can be difficult to recognize them or understand where these come from. This is why I say the shadow is deep. They could have come from subtle cues, small remarks made, or in your face judgments. We must become aware so we can shift this dynamic inside our internal world.
I was working with a client recently around shadow work. She was having some difficulties with finding these shadow parts.
First of all, I quickly recognized a part coming up and blocking her when attempting to access these shadow parts using a trigger, such as a past incident or a feeling.
She said a couple of times that these things no longer bother her. That she is trying to stay present and grounded. Which, by all accounts could be true. She has done so much work. However, I thought it was a little strange not to have any reaction at all. This is when it clicked that it was a part. This part wanted to keep the client in the present moment, stable, grounded. It was protecting her. It means well. However, it is also blocking her from continuing to do the work. So, I ran through how to unblend with this part, as a reminder, then this client can go in and work with these shadow parts.
How to find your shadow parts
Second, we looked at feedback she was given by friends and family of attributes or traits they notice about her. An example would be organized, let’s say. She couldn’t identify how this intertwined with a shadow part. But it does!
And I’m just using this as an example but being organized is overcompensating for something.
This part learned that she had to be organized. But why? What was the fear? That is the shadow part.
You can also use this with judgments or reactions towards someone. You can ask yourself when have I had a reaction or judgment towards another person? Once this comes up, follow the thread back to a past memory. Ask yourself where did this come from? Then just see what comes up. It could be you heard your mother say “who does she think she is?” or somebody saying “look at what she is wearing, she looks like a slut”. Even if we consciously know that this isn’t true, we are still subconsciously holding onto these judgments, and they are affecting our lives.
These beliefs make us second guess our abilities.
How we present ourselves to the world. This also impacts how we make money, our relationship dynamics, and our careers. Which are the big things we look to manifest. We become afraid of what others would think of us. This all goes back to the book I began with today. We feel like we must be on our best behavior and so do other women. If not, how dare they do this thing I could never fathom doing. You must ask yourself, is this really about them, or about you? Is this your shit coming up? I say this as someone who has years of shit that comes up, especially being a product of Catholic elementary school and growing up in the ‘80’s-90’s. All the shit.
What to do with your shadow parts
These shadow parts need to be worked with so that we can embrace all of us. All parts of us. Having these shadow parts as well as the protector parts overcompensating for them is what is impacting our self-worth. It is keeping us small. When you begin identifying these blocks, you can ask yourself: does this belief resonate with me? Is it in alignment with who I am or who I want to be? Or is this deep rooted shadow belief just programming and conditioning? Can you challenge this belief and start deconditioning it? Work through the discomfort and internal arguing that will most likely come up because you will be doing something that is different than how you were conditioned to be. So, how deep is your shadow?
As we go through this, we are opening up ourselves more to the Universe. We are no longer blocked by this patriarchal baggage that we have been carrying around. We can tap into our True Self, and get to be us without the stipulations, the bullshit. That is where the true power lies. This is how we become empowered. The way we are meant to be. This gives my goosebumps thinking about it!
How to Manifest Without the Self-Sabotage
If you want to learn more on how to work with your parts and tap into your True Self, check out my e-course, How to Manifest Without the Self-Sabotage. Imagine being in full control of your internal world. Where you are Self-led. No longer an internal struggle going on inside to “do the right thing” according to everyone else. Instead, you do what is right for you. Imagine being surrounded by people that support you and not tear you down or expect so much from you without giving back. Imagine being in your worth and your manifestations start pouring in, effortlessly. This is magic! This is How to Manifest Without the Self-Sabotage.
You are reading the show notes for episode 8: How Deep is Your Shadow
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