Shadow Work: What’s a good age to start?

When you are first starting Shadow work, you might have this overwhelming feeling that you are too late. Or you might be worried that you are too young.

In this article, we will be looking at what is the best age to start your journey with Shadow Work. I’ll be sharing some fascinating studies, so continue reading below.

New to Shadow Work? Check out the Beginners Guide

How old should you be to start Shadow Work?

Most people start Shadow Work in their 30’s and 40’s. You can start earlier, but it is not suggested to start Shadow Work until you are at least 25 years old because it is essential to have a strong sense of self before facing the Shadow. 

The reason why most people start exploring their shadows after their 30’s is because they have to live life long enough to see the patterns.

Making a mistake once or twice can still be circumstantial. 

Only after you see the same problem over and over do you start to suspect it’s something internal. It takes time to see our psychological patterns. 

Carl Jung once said: “Be wary of unearned wisdom.”

In other words, you need to go through the pain of adulthood before you can pick up the scraps and rebuild yourself through shadow work. 

There are also some dangers if you practice shadow work at too young of an age.

Learn More: Examples of the Shadow in Stories and Myths

What happens if you start Shadow Work too young?

Shadow work can be a very destructive and hard process. If you start this Work too early, before you have fully developed your sense of self, it could hurt you by not allowing you valuable experiences during your development.

Here is a list of things that can happen if you start Shadow Work too early:

  • Lose a sense of who you are
  • Become depressed due to lack of purpose
  • Have a hard time distinguishing your desires from others around you
  • Miss developing hobbies and passions

One of the biggest reasons why you should wait till you are 25+ is because you need to develop your Ego. 

If you start dismantling your Ego at the age of 15 before it’s fully formed, it can stop you from fully developing a sense of self. This could lead you to feel confused about who you are. 

The Ego helps you make boundaries of “where others end, and you begin.” If you start dismantling that border too early, it can make you feel lost, unimportant, and you could lose your unique spark. 

Developing a strong Ego/sense of self:

The reason I said 25+ is two really important things happen around that age. First on being you solidify your Ego, and the second has to do with brain development. 

The Ego is the footing you need for Shadow Work. Without it, you are sure to trip.

If at the age of 15 you start dismantling your Ego before it was fully formed, it can stop you from fully developing a sense of self. This could lead you to feel confused about who you are. 

The Ego helps you make boundaries of “where others end, and you begin.” If you start dismantling that border too early, it can make you feel lost, unimportant, and you could lose your unique spark. 

We all develop our Ego at different rates. For instance trauma of losing a parent can cause us to “grow up to fast” and develop our Ego quicker. 

Even then, there are different stages of development the Ego goes through. 

Source: Vertical Development Academy (VeDA)

“Ego Development Theory” is a working model of ego development. One of the groundbreaking concepts is the eight stages of ego development.  Most people reach stage 4, SelfCentric, at age 12 but continue to develop. 

It is best to start Shadow Work at stage 6, after Self-Actualizing. In this way, the Ego has developed a strong sense of self and can handle the individualization process associated with Shadow Work. 

Brain Development

A common misconception is that the brain is fully developed at the age of 18.  In actuality, most people don’t finish developing their brain until the age of 25!

Studies have found that only after the age of 25 do our brains fully mature.

Here are some of the changes that happen at the age of 25:

  • You can begin to feel multiple emotions at once (sad and happy at the same time)
  • Prefrontal Cortex finishes development (deals with fear, pain, sex)
  • You are able to self-regulate emotional swings. 
  • Become a better judge of risky behavior

All this points to the wisdom you can gain with experience. Before the age of 25, you are still learning how to navigate the world, interpret your own emotions, and create a sense of self. 

If you explore shadow work at 18, you might not have the biological aptitude to understand the complexity of your emotions due to the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. 

It’s better to have patients than to jump in too early without all the tools needed for success. 

Can you be too old for Shadow Work?

Most people begin looking at their shadows in their 30’s and 40’s. However, you can start your journey with Shadow work well beyond that age. Many people benefit from shadow work well into their 70’s.

With older age comes more wisdom and experience. 

That experience can be a lot of help with you are first starting to explore Shadow Work. Since you have more data to work with, it can be easier to uncover behavior patterns and spot the Shadow. 

There are also some benefits to being older.

An Article by Augusta Health states: “At this age (40’s and 50’s) you experience a positive increase in moral decision-making, emotion regulation, interpreting social situations, and focusing on positive memories.”

If you are in your 50’s and even your 70’s you will greatly benefit from starting to explore your Shadow.

Younger people tend to pick things up faster, but they also lack experience. With age comes slower but deeper learning. 

In Conclusion:

Shadow Work is a deeply powerful and transformative experience. When you do Shadow Work, you are looking at the repressed aspects of your personality. By facing these parts of yourself, you gain a clearer picture of who you really are. 

You can undergo this Work at any age, but it is suggested that you don’t start until you are older than 25.

This might also lead you to the next logical question…. How long does shadow work last? When does it end?  Check out the following article to learn more about how long Shadow Work takes. 

Isaac Cotec
Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.

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