What causes sadness?

In Shadow Work we believe that sadness occurs primarily when we experience loss. This may be the loss of someone we love, or loss of connection to someone or something important to us, or even the loss of a part of ourself or a particular identity we have held. This loss can come in many different forms, for example:

  • Loss of someone when they die

  • Loss of our connection to a particular place when we move

  • 1920119_296974713789941_337269301_nLoss of a job

  • Loss of a pet

  • The end of a relationship

  • Loss of a child when they go to school or leave home

  • Loss of a belief or a religion

  • Loss of connection with family when a young adult leaves home

  • Loss of our youth

  • Loss of status

  • Loss of identity if we get married

  • Loss of identity if our circumstances change

  • Loss of the old relationship with our partner when a baby is born

  • Loss of our health

The list is endless…..

1926895_296964867124259_481446785_nLife is constantly changing, and most change involves letting go of something. The loss of the old situation. John C. Maxwell says ‘Change is inevitable – growth is optional.’ Whether or not change leads to growth depends to a large extent on our ability to grieve, to release our sadness and free ourselves up for what is coming next. Sadness is our natural and healthy response to loss of any kind. If we don’t understand this it can sometimes be hard to understand why we’re sad, and our sadness may confuse or frighten us.

For example:

  • A man who has worked many long hours to afford a new home for himself and his young family may find himself sad when the day to move finally arrives. This confuses him. However, when he looks deep inside he realises he will miss the old neighbourhood, the friends there, the carefree nature of their life. It helps if he can realise that it’s ok, in fact it’s necessary for him to feel this sadness in order to move on and embrace the next phase of his life with an open heart.

  • A woman ends a painful, abusive relationship that she’s been longing to get out. She then finds herself grieving the loss of the very person she had longed to get away from. She needs to understand this sadness and allow herself to fully feel it if she is ever to be truly free of the relationship.

1797992_527454747368350_1360172182_n‘Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.’

~Frederick Buechner~

Sadness is our natural response to loss and change, even when it is change that we have longed for. If we don’t understand our sadness it is hard for us to manage it in the appropriate way, and we may often feel ‘silly’ if we find ourselves feeling sad on occasions where we are ‘meant’ to be feeling happy.

In Shadow Work we believe that as human beings we are ‘hard wired’ to connect. We will connect to whoever or whatever is around us – and then we will grieve for this when it is gone. It is important that we understand and recognise our sadness if we are to work with it in an effective way that allows us to eventually move on whilst carrying with us a loving memory of that which has been lost.

For further reading on working with the shadow please visit



For further reading on sadness please see the following three blogs:

Working With Paradox

Despite human beings having spent many millennia attempting to understand and categorise the world, there are still many simple ‘facts’ that we don’t know. Is light a wave or a particle? Even the most cutting edge physicists don’t know the answer to this question. This kind of paradox is part of nature and part of life. When we look inside ourselves we also find many paradoxes, and paradox is something we work with often in Shadow Work. To be a mature Human we need to become comfortable with paradox. I am one and many: the sole master of myself, yet I am also made of many different parts, often with conflicting ideas and beliefs. 782px-Autorretrato_2006I love and care for those closest to me and yet I show them my worst sides. I am confident and successful, yet my sense of self collapses when my child criticises me….Carl Jung, who did extensive work exploring the human shadow in the 19th century, notes one of the main paradoxes of The Shadow as this – that our ego – the parts of ourselves we want to be known by in the world, and our Shadow – the parts of ourselves we don’t want people to know about, come from the same place, and that they are entirely equal. They are all legitimate and valuable aspects of our being. The two balance each other, and one cannot exist without the other.


If I ignore my shadow, I ignore half of myself. Yet, my upbringing taught me that I must be ‘good’, that I must bring forth the parts of myself that the world wants and is prepared to reward and enjoy. I want to bring my best to the world. So what do I do with the parts of myself the world does not want? In order to be the best person I can be I need to hide parts of myself from the world, yet, to be a whole, integrated human being, without ‘shadowy’ behaviours, I must embrace and get to know the whole of myself – including my shadow side  – what a paradox!


Mystical traditions through the ages all ask of us one thing; that we know ourselves. They ask that I honestly know myself. It is not often recognised that this requires us to know our ‘dark’ sides as well as our ‘good’ selves, but this is exactly what it requires.

 We may think we know ourselves, yet in fact, we only know the parts ourselves we are conscious of. As a young person we think that this is all of us. We deny our ‘bad’ aspects even to ourselves, and they are pushed in to our unconscious. As adults we come to realise that a lot of our behaviour is influenced by our unconscious. We become aware that we’re not totally in control of our own behaviour. It is estimated that if our unconscious is represented by an area, it could be seen as extending to the size of four football fields. In our ordinary life the area of ourselves we are conscious of is the size of a circle of light around our feet.

We are conscious, of the world outside us, as we see it. But what about the world within us?


542px-Antonia_Gerstacker_Survivor2009Robert A. Johnson states : “ To own one’s own shadow is to reach a holy place – an inner centre- not attainable in any other way. To fail this is to fail one’s own sainthood and to miss the purpose of life”.

This is the purpose of Shadow Work. To know, engage with, and embrace our true humanity. In Shadow Work sessions, either one to one or in a group, we provide a space where participants can get to know themselves, engage with themselves as they truly are, and embrace and include the new parts they have discovered and bought to light.






Being Honest With Ourselves


Early in our lives, in order to be ‘civilised’ and to be accepted by those around us we undergo the natural process of dividing ourselves into what works for us in our world, and what does not work. 756px-Gustav_Igler_Der_zerbrochene_Krug_1876We hide away the parts of us that don’t work – the parts we are criticised or shamed for, and we work on presenting the ‘valuable’, ‘good’, or ‘acceptable’ parts of ourselves to the world. This is an essential process which we all go through in early life in order to be loved and accepted by those around us – or at the very least in order not to be harmed by those around us. it’s a survival mechanism, and it is unavoidable.


120px-WLANL_-_Minke_Wagenaar_-_Ans_Markus_z.j._Pierrot_-_detailSo, it is essential at times, especially in childhood, that we hide these sides of our personality from others. Unfortunately, however, the result of this is that we begin to hide them from ourselves too. This is where the real difficulty lies. We end up denying or hating parts of ourself. An internal war begins. The more we ‘shine’ and show what we believe are our acceptable qualities, and get respected and valued for this, the more we feel we have to repress and deny the other sides of ourselves. Yet it is not possible NOT to be who we really are – so these other sides find a way of coming out, usually in dark, shadowy or destructive ways. We seek the light, and create darkness. We go up, and we must come down. If we are male, we must know female. We must know our opposite, our mirror image, our twin who inhabits the ‘other’ side of our personality. Our ‘bright’ side is not the whole story. We cannot escape our ‘dark’ side, just as we cannot avoid the dark side of life. However, we can intelligently work with it and come to know it – not as ‘darkness’ but as a part of us that that hasn’t been loved, and that has been forced to show itself in shadowy ways. 786px-España_profunda,_oil_on_canvas,_89_x_116_cm._Date_2001-1


If we miss this opportunity to integrate ourselves in the second half of our life we are in danger of our shadow sides destroying our lives. Many who have been before us have warned us of this:-



‘If you bring forward that which is within you

then that which is within you will be your salvation.

If you do not bring forward that which is within you

Then that which is within you will destroy you’

~Gnostic Gospels~

Just take this as a warning. Know that there’s always a price for not being yourself.”
~Benilde Little~ 

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~C G Jung~

“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have”. 

~Doris Mortman~




Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.”
~G I Gurdjieff~


For more information about working with your shadow side visit:





The Shadow

We present to the world the parts of ourselves we wish to be known by, the parts we are conscious of and comfortable with. This is our psychological clothing, and it is how we wish to be seen by the world. But we are also made up of our shadow, which contains the parts of us that we have cut off, repressed or denied. The parts that we have at some point decided we do not want to be known by. Continue Reading