Shedding Light on Shadow

Written by Tobey Geise

Written by Tobey Geise

Shadow work is a journey to self-love. I chose to do a workshop on this topic because learning to love all of me – especially the parts I don’t like and I am afraid to own – has produced the biggest changes in my life. Journeying from self-loathing to self-acceptance has been a challenging life-long battle, but one well worth it. For me it started with getting honest with myself and digging into my dark side. I had a face I liked to present to the world: friendly, outgoing, helpful, smart, and “I have it all together”. This wasn’t exactly a lie, it just wasn’t the whole picture either.

I am as dark as I am light. I have always had two distinct sides of my personality – a brooding and angry dark side, and an optimistic high energy shine. I didn’t know how to control my darkness, and it would take over, leaving alienation, mistrust, hurt feelings, and broken relationships in its wake. I didn’t want to take responsibility for my actions because it was too painful to look at myself honestly and own how I treated people.

Mean and hurtful towards others is not how I wanted to think about myself. I blamed everyone else for how they treated me, not realizing that I was the impetus and I created my own reality. When I got beneath the anger, I discovered a hurt little girl who was hungry for love and attention.

I used anger as a coping mechanism to push people away so I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable. When I tended to my hurt, the anger melted away and I was able to create safe space to be vulnerable, and a more authentic version of myself began to take shape.

The Shadow can take many forms – the parts of ourselves we don’t want to own, the parts we are ashamed of and don’t want anyone else to know, and the parts that we are unaware of. A few years ago I was in 12-Step Recovery for an eating disorder. In my weekly step study we were given an assignment to write down the top 10 craziest things we’d ever done with food, and later shared these out loud in our group. For the first time in my life I gave voice to thoughts and behaviors that I was so ashamed of and I had no idea anyone else in the world could have committed. Others shared that they had acted in similar ways, and had done even “worse” things than I had. I was amazed. By the end of it, we were all laughing and sharing war stories. I had no idea I was living so much of my life in hiding and that I was so weighted down by the secrecy. I experienced a transformation that night. I could not have predicted how my newfound freedom would affect every area of my life, starting with how I thought and felt about myself. I shed light on my shadow and I gained a big piece of self-acceptance in the process.

This is what I hope participants of my Shadow Workshop will gain – insights into the unclaimed pieces of themselves, and to learn to love every aspect of themselves. I have learned that if I want to feel better, I have to face the thing I am resisting, the thing I want to avoid – the pain, the uncomfortable feelings, the hurt and loneliness. The only way to the other side is through. And the other side is glorious! It is full of love and light, high vibrations, and connection. We have to face all of ourselves to grow and heal. This workshop is a stepping stone along the journey to healing and self-love.


Tobey is a lifelong student, always seeking and evolving. She began her personal growth path with the Wright Foundation in Chicago in 2004, diving deep into self-awareness, neuroscience, and transformational work. As a student with Wright for over a decade, Tobey is trained as a coach and group facilitator. When she moved to San Diego in 2013, her growth path led her to spirituality, where she overcame a painful addiction and turned her attention to healing her mind, body, and soul. Now a Reiki and Breathwork Practitioner, Tobey is passionate about sharing her training and experience in an effort to help others find their own healing within.

Raffaella Giampaolo