Explanation of Shadow Work & How To Live Better By Tapping into the Unconscious w/ Zoe van LiereMay 24, 2022
Welcome to episode 49 of the Mindful & Driven podcast! It’s all about how to not lose sight of what really matters whilst chasing your dreams.
Episode 49’s guest is Zoe van Liere also known as a professional wild child. She’s the founder of the Shadow Works School which sounds more nefarious than it actually is. It’s all about bringing the ideas at the back of your mind or that are in your subconscious and bringing them in your conscious mind so you can deal with them and understand yourself truly and move on with your life. It’s work that she loves doing and you have to understand this when you hear her speak.
I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation! I’d love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review and follow me on social channels.
You can find all my work and socials here: http://amardeep.co
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United for Global Mental Health: https://unitedgmh.org/mental-health-support
Find more about Zoe: https://www.professionalwildchild.com/
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/profwildchild
Follow her on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/professionalwildchild
- Introduction (0:00)
- Follow your heart or your intuition? (1:42)
- Get to know yourself better (5:28)
- Living your authentic self (8:28)
- A sense of community and traveling (11:57)
- The challenges of balance (17:16)
- To truly be yourself at home and finding your tribe (21:10)
- Treasures in your emotions and adding value to people’s lives (23:34)
[00:00:00] Zoe: You just notice this mindset shift of people like, oh wait, that’s, that’s how it works. So the mindset shift at the end of the day, when you do shadow work is all about when you’re triggered, when you’re jealous, when you go through an emotion. We’re so good when we are so buying for ourselves, at least to really project, a lot of shit from ourselves towards the outer world, but there are so many treasures in those emotions.
[00:00:35] Amardeep: Welcome to the Mindful and Driven Podcast, where we help you to not lose sight of what’s really important whilst chasing your dreams. Today’s guest is Zoe van Liere also known as a professional wild child. She’s the founder of the Shadow Works School which sounds more nefarious than it actually is. It’s all about bringing the ideas at the back of your mind or that are in your subconscious and bringing them in your conscious mind so you can deal with them and understand yourself truly and move on with your life. It’s work that she loves doing and you have to understand this when you hear her speak. I hope you enjoyed listening,
[00:01:11] Welcome Zoe to Mindful and Driven. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
[00:01:14] Zoe: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:15] Amardeep: How we actually met is a bit funny. So we both attended the same webinar by our friends Hassan and Ash. So were unfair advantage. And we’re both talking in their chat and then I noticed your Instagram after then. Saw how much amazing work you’ve done and how different a path is to what many people choose to take. And Going down this path, was there anywhere along the line where you’ve got advice that you really disagreed with, and you think that could’ve lead you away from what makes you happy today?
[00:01:42] Zoe: Well actually, I think a common advice that I personally gave a lot back in the day is something that I currently disagree with. So back when I started, it was 2011, 2012, and I started off with setting up a Dutch platform that was all about living free, adventurous, more conscious life, and I was hosting events and it was basically like a blogger collective, and that grew immensely back in the day. And that was really that was a project that really came from my heart. So I also used to write a lot about what my heart was telling me and following my dreams. And of course that is something that is also said a lot and almost romanticized in a way, follow your heart, up to the point where my heart also led me into a toxic relationship because my heart was telling me that this was the guy, my guy, and I really needed to be with him. Although actually in the total beginning already with him, my intuition told me something completely different and it was that time that I needed, I was in this toxic relationship for two years in the end, also experienced emotional and psychological abuse in the household that we shared, and when we broke up, I went through a whole awakening within myself and my personality type and how basically we, as human beings are wired, how we are set up, how, to how many illusions we’re basically going all the freaking time in life. And that was also the point where I realized like, okay, but this is not a thing about following your heart. It’s actually, it should be follow your intuition because actually we are the only animals in the animal kingdom that are so horrible in listening to our intuition. If you see a reindeer and it is frightened, it runs away immediately. And we somehow tend to give people a chance, although our intuition is telling us like, runaway. So I think follow your heart should actually be following your intuition.
[00:03:52] Amardeep: Yeah. I think what’s interesting about that as well is when people about their authentic self. Say, you need to follow your authentic self, sometimes actually referring to the person they were many years ago. And I think that your authentic self changes over time. So if you said like, what you thought before you had that relationship versus afterwards was different because you learned more, you grew and you learn from, like a terrible experience you had. And obviously, I’m really happy that you came out on the other side and you feel stronger and happier now. And I think it’s really interesting because when you were in that relationship, if you thought I need to stick to my authentic self, that might’ve been the person who was giving in to this abuse in some way, and letting yourself get blamed, which is obviously completely wrong and you don’t want to do that. So I think it’s really important to think about it in that terms as well of what’s right for me, and is this making me happy rather than, if you say you define yourself as somebody who’s in that relationship, I’m this person’s partner, that can be really bad for you in the long term.
[00:04:51] Zoe: Yeah. I think if we are truly open for all the lessons that life is teaching us and we do the inner work and we do the shadow work, it actually brings us closer and closer to our authentic self, if we are really open for it. So I do honestly see that my authentic self was already sort of covered under my persona and my mask. I just really wasn’t able to see it clearly. And now I can actually bring my authentic self more to the surface.
[00:05:21] Amardeep: You mentioned shadow work there as well. So some people listening today won’t really know what that is, could you explain a bit about that?
[00:05:28] Zoe: Yeah, I’m the big shadow work ambassador by now, I believe. I’m a big shadow work fan. So shadow work basically comes from psychology. Carl Young has brought it to the west. It’s a very down to earth practice to get to know yourself better and actually truly feel more free within yourself. The shadow basically stands for the unconscious. What a lot of people don’t know is that we run through life pretty much unconsciously. 95% of life, and our days we go through unconsciously and with doing shadow work, we basically make the unconscious conscious. So with that being said, you can basically also say that the shadow is basically a part of our selves that we do not see. It’s not even a thing of not being willing to see. It’s just really something that we repress and it’s out of our awareness and it is hidden in our emotions, in our triggers, in our projections, in our patterns, but also in our form of humor, for example. And I think it’s wildly fascinating because as soon as you shift your being, basically, as soon as you start shadow work, you instantly get a different type of mindset in life, also in how we go through our days, but also when you see other people, I don’t know, acting out or saying certain things, and it’s just like, ah, okay, wait. But everything is basically saying something about ourselves.
[00:06:52] Amardeep: What made you be interested in this topic in the first place? Were you going through a tough time and you use shadow work to help you get out of that? Or where did this come from?
[00:07:00] Zoe: It sort of naturally came to me. I don’t remember or recall how exactly, but as I just mentioned, when I went through my breakup of this toxic relationship, I went through, like an actual dark night of the soul awakening kind of phase. It almost feels like a trend nowadays to say that, but it definitely felt that way. That by now is two years ago. And somehow I bumped into shadow work. So I started deepening my knowledge and what triggered me back then the most was actually that I found out that this was a toxic relationship and that I can really identify with the concept of being an empath and that I took over his emotions and his energies as if they were mine. So I went through this whole phase of whoa, I never saw that about myself before. That I was also really open to say, Okay, but then there must be so much more that I don’t know about myself. And I want to find out what that is. And that is the essence of shadow work. So I started deepening my knowledge about it and really started to investigate how I can discover more from myself about myself without having to go through another toxic relationship, because I think that toxic relationship was basically just a catalyst of my biggest shadow. Myself.
[00:08:18] Amardeep: You mentioned you started a Dutch platform many years ago. What made you start that in the first place and how long was it before it became your full-time role?
[00:08:27] Zoe: I was studying at the university of Amsterdam and I was also working there and that made me feel so depressed already. The whole nine to five kind of work lifestyle kind of thing was really not for me. I saw a lot of people in the midst of their steady jobs, but they were just really sitting out the day, you know. They weren’t living life. And it really, for me, felt like they, well, they weren’t living their authentic selves, you know. I think everybody has something to offer with so many of us are stuck in trying to survive, I think mostly, and I wanted to do something creative and I knew a lot of people around me and I wanted to bring them, or I knew a lot of people that wanted to make a positive impact on the world and I wanted to bring them together. So I started to organize an event and I did that under the name Modern Hippies, Modern Day Hippies, and that was back in 2011. And somehow it was really very fitting in that time, because it was sort of just before fair fashion became a thing. Just before this whole plant based vegan trend became super popular. So I think that collective consciousness was really rising in that time, and my Dutch platform was sort of just like was really picking up on the trend of that and was bringing these people together that wanted to make a positive impact and simply do better. And therefore it also became really popular in those years, and especially the events were massive in 2013, 14, although, I wasn’t able to identify with being an entrepreneur. I saw myself as sort of accidentally created something that, yeah. A lot of people liked.
[00:10:16] Amardeep: When did you go full time into this world?
[00:10:18] Zoe: Well, actually already back then, I can’t say that I was financially abundant back then. I really had no clue how to make money. I think, which is also nice in a way to now mention is that when you talk about the authentic self and the false self in a way is that, although I wanted to do that, my empath nature basically really wants to make the world like in a desperate way, almost a better place. And I take a lot of heavy things from the world personally, as if I need to change everything, which of course you can’t. And we have to do this as a collective and we need to make tiny steps and we need to keep it real, mostly. And I was also organizing these events, although my false, personality basically knows that I, of all people shouldn’t organize events needing to basically facilitate a room of thousands of people, although I’m taking over all their emotions and energies and I’m basically just worn out the week after. Yeah. So I think I was always very resistant towards this whole nine to five, kind of life. And then I also had this thing going that was actually quite popular. So I just try to make it a full-time job for myself. And then I just did like a whole mixture of content creation events and also freelancing. And it gave me a level of, I mean, the platform stood for living a free, adventurous, and conscious lifestyle. And I also, myself was able to lead one.
[00:11:45] Amardeep: I think what’s interesting too, is that, you started writing in Dutch originally, right? And now you’re doing things in English. And even before we started recording, you kind of mentioned that sometimes you can struggle to mix between the languages. Was this something that scared you early on, where you started doing more content in English? Were you worried about that at all? Because I know there was some people listening today where English isn’t their first language. But they know that they can reach a wider audience with it.
[00:12:10] Zoe: Yeah. It was always my struggle, and I have to say that it still is because when I started off with my Dutch platform, I always felt like a world citizen. I never truly felt Dutch. You know, there’s a lot of Dutch people that truly feel Dutch, but I just feel like I also love to live abroad. I have lived abroad. I worked from abroad and then obviously I also spoke more English and I also had a lot of friends abroad. So for me it just makes sense that, especially with something as modern day hippies, that you make it more international. But of course, the last two years, I’ve also pretty been, pretty much nonstop, been in the Netherlands. So now I feel very Dutch and now I also sometimes still, also on my Instagram, I go back and forth here and there, depending on the subject. Maybe if sometimes, something is in Dutch, but at the end of the day, you just really need to make content with what feels good to you. And I definitely have to say that my YouTube channel mostly, and I do that in English, just gave me so much fulfillment because I really had the feeling that I attracted like-minded women, mostly who yeah, go through life pretty independently and love to travel and love life, but also love to explore more about themselves. So yeah, gave me truly the feeling of community.
[00:13:37] Amardeep: Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the episode so far. I want to take a quick break to ask you to check in with yourself. There’s many people struggling with balance and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s tips that my guests might share can hopefully help you along the way, but if you already feel overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s probably best that you ask somebody for help too. For some, this might be a friend or family member, while others might feel like they have nobody they can talk to. If you’re one of these people, check out the link in the show notes, it’s for United for Global Mental Health. They’ve got health plans all across the world, with people willing to listen on the other side. It’s important to let somebody know how you’re feeling. Now, back to the show.
[00:14:09] And you mentioned there about traveling and work while you were traveling. How did you find that experience? Because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about myself, do I want to do the digital nomad side of things or not? Because I also like having a base in London and I have my friends and family here too. And I’ve got so much that I enjoy about the city too. How have you found that process when you lived abroad and came back? And what was that experience like for you?
[00:14:32] Zoe: I think it’s heavily romanticized also. For me, at least, I definitely struggled sometimes with working abroad especially in 2016, when I tried it from Cape town, which is my big love. I love to come there, but back then the internet was just horrible and I was just starting out with my YouTube channel. So it took me a day sometimes to just upload a video. So of course then, you really notice how privileged you are first and foremost, as you’re living in the Netherlands and how quick things go here, especially around internet and the connection and everything around it. So it definitely hasn’t always been easy, but the other side of it, of course, is just the freedom that it takes, or that it gives that you’re able to do that. It’s beautiful. So here and there for a few weeks, I would definitely do it again. Are you thinking about, where are you thinking about going?
[00:15:30] Amardeep: Oh, I could go to Amsterdam. You never know?
[00:15:32] Zoe: You have good wifi here most of the times.
[00:15:37] Amardeep: I think a lot of the people I work with, either east coast or west coast thru the US, so I went to meet a lot of them cause I’ve had so many taps there and zoom calls, it would really nice to meet them in person, but at the same time I could go anywhere. So I’ve done quite a lot of travel pre pandemic when I started my consulting job. So there’s a lot of places I’ve been to that I’ve liked. And I think one of my biggest problems is I have too much choice. If I had to decide to work abroad for a bit, where would I go? Because I like so many places. So it’s easy to just not think about it than to try to analyze listed things. Like where would I go? And like I said, one of the big problems too is if I’m doing a lot of video work, you need to have a solid base. You need to have good wifi. And you’re going to be carrying around equipment all the time, if you’re moving around the country and yeah, like you want to have that professional sheen to it as well. And one of the things that’s quite stressful, which some people may not realize with traveling is that if you’re going for a country, or a backpack, or taking different forms of transport, that takes its toll on you as well, you need to recover from that. You need to have the rest in there, too.
[00:16:38] Zoe: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, no, that’s very true. I also really needed like almost an extra suitcase for all the equipment that you need to take with you. And it’s a, it’s very ungrounding to work like that. So yeah, it has its pros and cons.
[00:16:54] Amardeep: With life in the Netherlands at the moment, is there any way you’re struggling with your balance or have you got a nice routine down?
[00:17:00] Zoe: I’m currently definitely just on a more practical level, struggling with balance just finding out what I’m going to do again. I sometimes just have these faces where I just really have to reset. I’m also trying to, to surrender to the moment of not truly knowing I have so many things that I would like to do in life still, but I really need to prioritize what that is, but I also highly believe that answers like those come naturally. If you just allow pauses like this to happen. And so definitely right now, I’m not in a very balanced state. And at the same time, I think for me always in life, what I now can see, at least as being an empath, you always struggle with truly loving people. But also really needing to be alone. So for me, it will always be whenever I’m in a relationship, I always struggle with, I want to be in a relationship, but I also need a lot of alone time. And the same goes with just work. Just balancing everything out. I just need so much time to recover just by living. I think life on itself can already be quite exhausting sometimes. Yeah.
[00:18:15] Amardeep: One thing you’ve got too is that when people send you an email, cause obviously I did this myself, you’ve got the auto response, which tell people what they can do. That saves you a lot of time. Right? Because I get a lot of people who might send me emails and ask me different questions where I kind of need to reply but it’d be better, like what you’ve got. To just have the auto filter, right. You want to do this? Go here. You want to do that? Go there. Has that helped you a lot. And is there other techniques as well that you’ve used in the past?
[00:18:42] Zoe: Yeah, I think my auto reply is just really a prime example of truly setting boundaries, especially in this social media age, where everybody can send you messages all the freaking time. I’m completely overwhelmed by it. And somehow, especially when you make content, of course, online people also just really think that you can make that time because you’re already making the time to make a video or podcast or whatever. So you can also reply, but that just sums up constantly. So just like a strict auto reply is definitely recommended for everybody. Yeah. And I think other than that also online that I don’t feel as guilty anymore if I don’t reply in general, I think WhatsApp can also really create that feeling, especially from friends and family, you know, like hello. And I just think it’s, we’re living in such an insane world that we should also, that we should always stand on. Standby. It doesn’t make any sense to me. So to normalize for myself that I answer slowly, no matter if it’s towards my friends and family or online, it’s okay.
[00:19:51] Amardeep: What you mentioned before about you following intuition. Does that mean that you don’t tend to make longer term plans? Or do you have longer term goals that stay for the next couple of years? Or do you just let yourself go with the flow?
[00:20:02] Zoe: I do think that I don’t make a lot of long-term plans anymore. I think that I used to make long-term plans, but more in my twenties, but I can also see that certain long-term plans were more ego-driven and not necessarily coming out of my authentic self. By now, I can definitely like it to work towards goals and yeah, still work towards my dreams, but then yeah, definitely keep checking in with truly my gut feeling, if this is right. And that is a constant challenge. If you’re also talking about balance in life, I think we, actually everyday, should do like an intuition check-in.
[00:20:46] Amardeep: You said you’re working towards your dreams. What are your dreams?
[00:20:48] Zoe: My dreams right now, at least on the one hand are very down to earth in the sense of, I just really want to have a steady, loving, warm home base. I have two cats by now. I really consider them being my family also. So, and I think, especially if you have gone through a phase where living in a home that feels unsafe, we really cannot take for granted that you can just truly be yourself at home and live in a household where everybody is accepting you and everything is just yeah, you can truly be yourself. So it’s my dream to just truly be myself always at home. And working wise, I would love to publish more books. I still have a lot of old content that I also just want to make a book about, I think, from, and continue with making videos. And what has currently just really given me so much fulfillment is creating these communities that are more out of the social media realm. So my shadow works school now, for example, it’s just really an example for me that throughout social media, I attracted these like-minded women. They’re all into this similar type of work. And then away from Instagram and away from YouTube and all the followers and likes and everything that is actually not so important, we actually truly come together and form a community and we do the work together and that has been so beautiful. I think community is just, it’s just it.
[00:22:22] Amardeep: How do you, with that community, how does that work? Like, so if say somebody listened today wants to be part of the kind of similar community or good community like that themselves. What would that look like?
[00:22:32] Zoe: I’m also currently still figuring it out because this for me is also new. For me, the shadow work school is really a program that people follow for six weeks. And then we have life sessions and we really come together and we can be vulnerable together. So, that is a community on itself, but I also, of course there are also communities these days, that you can really become a member of, and you’re a part of the community the entire year. Yeah. Could also be the case. I think it’s very important to at least find your tribe, especially when you’re into these type of topics.
[00:23:04] Amardeep: [unintelligible] people you’re meeting in real life because obviously, it’s a lot of your work is online, but do you enjoy meeting people in real life and having the community there too?
[00:23:14] Zoe: I do, but I do have to say that for me, as an introverted empath, highly sensitive person, that online is just heavenly.
[00:23:23] Amardeep: You obviously worked with so many people and you’ve helped so many people over the years. What’s one mindset shift, you think somebody listening today could make that could make a positive difference to the way they view their lives?
[00:23:32] Zoe: Yeah. So I, like I just mentioned. The very first lesson that I do with the shadow work school contains like a questionnaire. And with question four, you just notice this mindset shift of people like, oh wait, that’s how it works. So the mindset shift, at the end of the day, when you do shadow work, it’s all about when you’re triggered, when you’re jealous, when you go through an emotion, we’re so good when we are so blind for ourselves, at least to really project, a lot of shit from ourselves towards the outer world, but there are so many treasures in those emotions. If you allow yourself to explore them truly. Yeah. So shadow work truly is golden, I think. And that creates a mindset shift big time. Absolutely. And I’m definitely not a sales type of person. That’s the funny thing. Over the 10 years that I worked for myself, I have never been able to set up a program and really sell it. But this is type of work that I just, I genuinely believe in, believe in it. And it makes yourself and the world a whole lot better. Have you ever done it?
[00:24:44] Amardeep: Shadow work?
[00:24:45] Zoe: Yeah.
[00:24:46] Amardeep: No, not yet. No. This has got to be on the list. When I come to work in Amsterdam, we can do it then. We can do it online when I come to Amsterdam cause you don’t want to meet in person.
[00:24:59] Zoe: No, we can do an offline as well.
[00:25:02] Amardeep: Okay.
[00:25:03] Zoe: One-on-one is okay.
[00:25:04] Amardeep: What I was going to say is somebody into the [unintelligible] what you said is that marketing people think is very sleazy, but it’s really about if you think someone can add value to somebody’s life and you’re trying to share that message, then that’s not salesy, that’s you trying to help people. And that’s a real aim of what you’re doing with shadow work and the shadow work school. Is it your hope that people with you think can benefit from what you’re doing and benefit from the philosophies that you’ve learned and apply to yourself?
[00:25:33] Zoe: Absolutely. It’s the most liberating thing that you can do. So it’s also therefore, genuinely not a sales promo because it’s a, you do, I think, needs to be ready to do this work because it is, especially in the beginning, it can be uncomfortable. It can also be very confronting. You just really bump into things that you have been repressing your entire life, basically. You have to be open to, to open that Pandora box. And once it’s open, you just, you can’t go back.
[00:26:03] Amardeep: As we wrap up now, if people listen today, they want to find out more about shadow work, find out more about what you do, where would you send them? Where can they find out more?
[00:26:10] Zoe: I think even if you Google shadow work school, then you also bump into my website. Generally people can find me under professional wild-child. So I have a YouTube channel, Instagram, and also my website is also professionalwildchild.com.
[00:26:23] Amardeep: Perfect. And the final question I ask all of my guests is, what’s one small thing that’s brought you joy recently?
[00:26:29] Zoe: I’m currently also hosting a little community and we’re doing the January dance challenge in which we have to do a little dance every day. I really believe in dancing. You don’t have to do that for your profession, but it is so good to get into your body and out of your mind. So I also say one dance a day keeps the doctor away. And I also recently heard in another podcast that you also like to dance.
[00:26:55] Amardeep: I dabble a little bit.
[00:26:58] Zoe: Very good. Do you also do a dance a day?
[00:27:02] Amardeep: Ooh. I don’t know. Sometimes one thing I do and I guess I’m missing this on the podcast, now. As it’ll break, I’ll just play music and just dance around the flat. And it just gets me out of my head, gets me stopping thinking about what I’m thinking about, and this refreshes me a bit. It gives me a bit of energy and then I can go back to whatever I was doing.
[00:27:20] Zoe: Exactly. That. It’s the little things.
[00:27:28] Amardeep: If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d love it If you could leave me a five star review, it really helps get the message out further. Wherever you’re listening, it would be awesome If you could subscribe and share in your social media channels. If you want to see more of my work and advice, you can find all of the links in the show notes.
Thank you again for listening and I hope you have a lovely day.