Shadow Work: Comfort and Healing

2013 March - Andy Warhol at Christy's in Minneapolis
How very different animals comfort and healing are. Yet one so closely associates with the other.

In the psychic work of today, however, comfort is the danger – the disease. It is how we dive into our worst addictions, fall back on our worst selves, let our shadows overtake us. We comfort ourselves. We poison ourselves. We eat our feelings, smoke our stress, get comfortable on the couch for too long.

Healing is not comfort. It is definitely not comfortable. It may lead to feeling comfort, benign and not. It may lead to relief, which differs from comfort.

When we see our wounds – because wounds are shadows, moreso than inherent ugliness – we often try to ignore them, numb them, deny we have them. To do the work of healing is to do some serious self-confrontation. Perhaps you do use sensitivity to manipulate others. Perhaps you are hurting others because you think everyone should feel as you do. Perhaps you were complicit in some of the damage that happened as you got into more adult relationships, when relationships of choice really begin.

The Artist’s Way started me on my healing work. What my morning pages and putting the drama on the page showed me is that I have corners of my soul that make everyone uncomfortable. They aren’t nice. They aren’t pretty. They are strong in a way that makes people step back from me with a look of fear. I write and then say a lot of uncomfortable things.

It’s fine on the page – it has a booming market, really, if I ever choose to embrace it. People love horror, the supernatural, science fiction – extreme exaggerations that are actually anything but the escapist that they are so often labeled.

But it’s also an indicator that the interior needs work. Just as submitting to pokes, prods, needles and other things when you see a doctor, you also have to face the pokes and prods of your therapist, of yourself, of the rare professionals who truly want to help you.

The work on the Artists Way has often been so frightening or painful that I don’t want to do it. Sometimes it’s just a lot of work. It may seem like mere answering questions on a page but when I delve in it’s intensive. Confrontational. Painful.

After I see the words, look at what’s before me, feel the pain – I plan for it. I recognize the work to do because all healing required work on the part of the one that needs it. I accept this and dive right back in. There is always work to do, excavation, acknowledgement.

There’s much to do. There’s always much to do.

I’ll probably never be really comfortable.


  1. Gavin Boyd

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a college lecturer interested in
    Jungian psychology. I work with my shadow in order to improve both my teaching
    practice and student behaviour. I have converted my shadow dialogues into a
    series of animations which are available on my website  Here is a dialogue with my inner rebellious
    teenager. Healing this part of my shadow had a positive impact in the

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