Ego Work (Inspired in Shadow Work / Carl Jung)

Daniela Marin
ILLUMINATION
Published in
4 min readAug 1, 2023

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As a therapist who’s seen transformations through Shadow Work, I’m excited to share two activities to help you resolve Ego challenges you might be facing. But first, let’s start with the basics!

What is the Ego?

According to Carl Jung, the ego is the conscious part of our personality that represents our sense of Self. It’s the center of our awareness and holds our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about the external world.

The ego interacts with the personal unconscious (the individual’s unique experiences) AND the collective unconscious (universal, inherited experiences shared by all humans). The ego plays a crucial role in maintaining our identity and helps us navigate daily life. As humans, we trust and honor the Ego (sometimes more than we should).

What is Ego Work?

Ego work involves recognizing and understanding aspects of our personality that we believe are part of our self-identity. It helps us uncover the parts of ourselves that we often keep hidden or suppressed — the shadows that influence our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. By embracing and integrating these aspects, we achieve a deeper connection with our authentic selves and foster healthier relationships with others.

Today, I would like to share two activities I consider effective in the process of Ego Work.

Activity 1: Unraveling the Shadows

  1. Create Your Space: Find a cozy spot where you can be alone with your thoughts.
  2. Pen Your Thoughts: Grab a journal or open a blank document on your device. Start writing about moments or situations that stir strong emotions in your Ego. Let your feelings flow without holding back.
  3. Spot Patterns: As you read through your notes, look for recurring themes or emotions. These little clues can lead you to the hidden shadows influencing your life.
  4. Be Kind to Yourself: Remember, this isn’t about judgment or blame. We all have parts of ourselves that we keep in the shadows. Approach this discovery process with love and compassion.
  5. Stay aware: Try to summarize some of these patterns into a title/label, and have this label active in your consciousness for three days.

As yourself: How often do you fall into this pattern? What triggers it? What emotions does that situation trigger in you? Why is this a vulnerability to your Ego? Are there ways in which you could tame your Ego? Is your Ego exaggerating the reaction because it wants to protect you from something you don’t need protection anymore?

Activity 2: The Mirror

  1. Quiet Contemplation: Find a calm and serene space to sit comfortably. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and bring your awareness to the present moment.
  2. Facing the Mirror: Imagine a metaphorical mirror in front of you, reflecting your inner self — the conscious aspects represented by the ego and the hidden aspects symbolized by the shadow.
  3. Ego Inquiry: Begin by looking into the mirror and contemplating the aspects of yourself that you readily identify with — the thoughts, beliefs, and traits that you acknowledge as “you.” Reflect on how these aspects have shaped your self-identity and influenced your life choices.
  4. Shadow Revelation: Now, shift your focus to the less-known parts of yourself — the shadows lurking in the mirror’s depths. These could be unresolved emotions, repressed desires, or traits you tend to deny. Acknowledge that these aspects also contribute to your wholeness, even though they may not align with your self-image.
  5. Embracing the Shadows: Engage in a compassionate dialogue with the shadows. Ask questions like “What message do you have for me?” or “How have you influenced my behavior unconsciously?” Allow the answers to surface without judgment or fear.
  6. Integration and Healing: Embrace the shadows with understanding and love. Recognize that they are essential parts of your psyche and have valuable insights to offer. Avoid rejecting or suppressing them; instead, seek to integrate their wisdom into your conscious awareness.
  7. Personal Growth Affirmation: Craft a positive affirmation that embodies your commitment to embrace and integrate your shadows into your self-awareness. For example, “I accept and embrace all parts of myself, and through self-awareness, I find growth and wholeness.”
  8. Continued Self-Exploration: As you conclude the activity, remember that this process of self-reflection is ongoing. Keep revisiting the mirror of self-awareness regularly to deepen your understanding and foster personal growth.

Ego work is a gradual and loving process. There’s no need to rush or force anything. Embrace the subtleties of your inner world, and know that understanding yourself is a beautiful adventure. Embrace your shadows, for they hold the keys to unlocking your authentic self. Remember, you are capable, resilient, and deserving of a life filled with self-awareness and love. You’ve got this!

Daniela Marin, LMHC | Youtuber | Therapist

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