It’s unlikely that psychologist Carl Jung ever thought that his work would ever become a TikTok trend. And yet, it’s happening – if you scroll on the platform, chances are that you will come across one or two ads – or 50 – of the Shadow Work Journal, written by Keila Shaheen, a self-help author and founder of ZenfulNote, an ecommerce store dedicated to mental health.
The book has spread rapidly on TikTok, selling over 340,000 copies and getting a lot of love and hate equally. Some TikTok users have found the journal a game-changer in their healing journey, while others have deemed it harmful. So, is the TikTok trend really life-changing or just a self-help craze with no relevance?
First, What Is Shadow Work?
While shadow work has only recently gained much attention on TikTok, it is worth noting that the concept isn’t new. Based on Jungian psychology, shadow work is about delving into your psyche’s depths and uncovering aspects of yourself that you have rejected or suppressed and, eventually, embrace them.
According to Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst who introduced the shadow work concept, every human being has a “shadow self,” which is a psychological material that is out of conscious understanding, and therefore, it hasn’t been integrated.
For most adults, their shadow self likely developed a long time ago without realizing it.
Everyone internalizes parental expectations, cultural conditioning, and societal norms, and that’s how some parts of their personality become unmanageable or unacceptable. However, shadow work allows you to make space for all the parts within yourself – including those you consider “bad” – and this allows you to feel like a whole person in the end.
Can the Shadow Work TikTok Trend Accompany Your Mental Health Journey?
TikTok is a revolutionary platform with a massive user base and huge monetization potential. It provides incredible opportunities for content creators and businesses, as it allows them to increase their visibility on the platform by participating in trends.
The nature of the platform makes it straightforward to grow your audience organically, but you can buy likes here, too, if you want to grow your TikTok community faster and effectively.
For GenZ, in particular, TikTok is not just a platform they use for entertainment but also to express opinions and even learn about major news events.
However, trends on this platform – as anywhere else on social media- are tricky: some are funny, others are beneficial, but there are also those that can be risky. So, it’s normal to have doubts about them at first – after all, their popularity doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they are always safe.
As far as shadow work is concerned, it is worth noting that this concept is more complex than it may look like on social media. While it is excellent that platforms like TikTok spread essential ideas such as shadow work, inviting people to face the difficult parts of their lives and within themselves, it lacks some crucial details.
It’s vital to be aware of the nuances and keep in mind that shadow work isn’t suitable for everyone, and by no means can it replace professional mental health treatment.
For those dealing with serious mental illnesses and past trauma, guided journals are often not enough to help them process difficult emotions. Shadow work can bring to the surface feelings of rage, shame, and even terror – which are all overwhelming and, thus, require the guidance and support of a mental health professional.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the shadow work trend on TikTok makes no sense. It does, as it represents a powerful tool for healing and self-discovery.
The exercises promoted on the platform are used in therapeutic approaches: for instance, in cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health professionals often require clients to think of the worst possible scenario and help them explore the resourcefulness within themselves that allows them to cope with the situation.
Studies on journaling have concluded that it can be helpful to reflect on uncomfortable truths about yourself, as it gives you wisdom in life.
Besides, experts suggest that shadow work allows you to gain deeper self-awareness, which is an essential step towards change, while also allowing you to identify your triggers and release emotional wounds, thus promoting emotional well-being.
Joining the Shadow Work TikTok Trend: How to Get Started
If you are relatively mentally well and have embarked on your spiritual journey, you may find the shadow work trend helpful. You can start incorporating this self-care practice into your daily routine by bringing awareness to intentionality, which helps you align with self rather than fear.
There are a few ways you can approach shadow work, and you can begin by recognizing how you react to situations. Identify your motivations – by getting curious about them, you will get to the root of your reactions, thus uncovering shadow shelves that were hidden for a long time.
Journalling can be of great help to this end, allowing you to confront your psyche through helpful prompts like “What unresolved emotions from the past continue to affect me in the present?”; “What recurring behavior do I identify?”; “Which parts of myself do I deny or criticize?”; and so on.
TikTok’s Influence on Self-Care and Wellness
When thinking of TikTok, many people associate it with lip-synching or choreographed dances. But the truth is that TikTok has content for everyone, and its impact on self-care has been massive. With holistic wellbeing and personal growth gaining more and more popularity in recent years, wellness-tagged videos on TikTok have been viewed millions of times by users on the platform.
Nurses, doctors, personal trainers, and coaches have all added value to people’s lives by sharing essential tips one can use to improve their lifestyle and health – both physical and emotional.
TikTok trends are powerful, and they have a huge influence, especially on GenZ. And while not all of them may be helpful, or they may not fit into everyone’s lives, we can all agree that in many cases, platforms like TikTok are doing a pretty good job of promoting good practices and providing educational and engaging content for users.