Shadow Work and Abuse


Do I approach shadow work differently when my hatred arises in response to abuse?

This month’s Ask a DEI Professional question is about shadow work. Our questioner writes:

Does shadow work have to be approached differently when hatred arises as a response to abuse (or perceived abuse) from a parent – either emotional, psychological, or physical – when the abuse happened to the person as a child and is ongoing (unresolvable because of lack of parental awareness, engagement, or concern)?

Thanks for your question! We have reply from one of our Dynamic Emotional Integration® professionals.

Bobbi McIntyre answers:

Bobbi McIntyre

What a good question! Thanks for asking.

Having been a child of abuse, I think I understand where you are coming from in your question. It seems like there should be a distinction between hatred based on parental abuse and hatred of other things not quite so personal.

What I’ve learned through my work with emotions is that all emotions, including hatred, arise for the purpose of helping us handle a situation or problem in our life. In the case of hatred, it arises as a combination of intense, soul-ravaged rage, panic, and anger that comes from the devastation of a boundary, and this can include emotional, psychological, physical, or any other type of boundary. Karla teaches that hatred is “an intimate and interior hazard that you aren’t yet ready to confront on your own.” Parental abuse is about the most intimate form of boundary breaking that I can imagine.

Why do we feel hatred?

In my life I have found that emotions, including hatred, are based on the situation you’re in, not what caused it. If you lose something of value to you, your grief will arise despite what caused your loss.

If your boundary is obliterated, then fury, rage, anger, and panic will arise despite what caused it — and your laser-focused hatred will help you have the strength and energy to survive the ordeal. When you are out of life-threatening danger (for example, no longer a child and away from your parents’ home), it will provide the intensity and strength you need to look within and identify the things you see in your hate target. What behavior or words did your parents do or say that you hated? When you can identify the specifics, it can lead you toward your healing action. Hatred will highlight the areas of yourself that have lost their boundaries and parts of yourself that you buried deep in your psyche.

I think that hatred has a self-protective quality that allows you to process the intimate and deep wounds when you are ready and able.

For example, at times I hated my father for his rage and the things he would say to me and my sisters when he got angry. I vowed I would never treat anyone that way. I became a good girl, sweet and kind. But there was this hatred boiling inside that would erupt from time to time, and I could say the cruelest things to people that I loved.

As I grew older, I was tired of being so unexpectedly volatile, so I started to work to understand the hatred I felt and do my shadow work. It took me a while to get there, but I finally recognized that although I had banished my anger (good girls did not have anger!), at times I could be as angry and as cruel as my father was. That was a revelation that freed me from my hatred. I am human with human emotions and so was he. I realized without anger, I had no boundaries and without boundaries, I allowed people to walk all over me, eventually triggering the level of anger I hated (and also my shame). Allowing myself to know that anger and shame are good and necessary for a balanced life, I was able to heal that part of me.

In conclusion, I’ve found that working with hatred from parental abuse uses the same shadow work techniques as working with hatred caused by some other wounding.

I hope you find this useful.

There are many ways you can consciously work with the objects of your hatred. See below for Karla’s video on hatred with some suggestions.

~Bobbi McIntyre

In this video, Karla talks about hatred and shares some resources in the description.

Thanks so much for your question and for working to welcome and understand your emotions.

Have you ever found insights or healing through shadow work?

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