25 journal prompts to help you start your shadow work journey

So, why is it beneficial to work on shadow elements of yourself?

It all comes down to self-knowledge and self-awareness.

Being aware of your shadow self means you make better choices in life and identify the issues that you want to change or work on.

What is shadow work?

Shadow work is the process of exploring the unconscious parts of your mind with the goal of bringing them into conscious awareness so that you can accept and integrate them with your personality.

It’s like taking a deeper look at yourself, peeling away the layers and dealing with whatever you find underneath.

Shadow work is a process in which you do intense self-analysis on your darker qualities.

By doing shadow work, you can confront the shadow side of yourself that often comes out in unhealthy ways, such as experiencing mood swings or being hypersensitive to criticism.

Doing shadow work does not mean that you have to become more like someone else; it’s simply about exploring who you really are and bringing your true self into fruition.

How do you face your shadow side?

When talking about the shadow self, I mean the least attractive, most shameful parts of your personality that you would never want anyone else to see because it makes you feel vulnerable and exposed.

We’d all prefer to show our strengths instead of our weaknesses, right?

Shadow work is the act of facing your shadow self.

And it can bring awareness, healing, and empowerment when you are able to look at the dark corners of yourself without judgement.

As someone who has done a lot of shadow work, I can tell you that it’s an incredibly rewarding experience because it gives me the opportunity to both understand myself better and become a stronger version of myself.

Shadow work can be done in many different ways that are suited for different people depending on what draws them to shadow work in the first place.

My preferred method for doing shadow work is journaling.

The shadow is the part of yourself that which you’re afraid to acknowledge, confront, and accept.

Your shadow self contains your potential for selfishness, or darkness as well as good, generosity, and light.

Journaling gives an outlet to express the shadow parts of you safely because your journal is a safe, private space where no criticism is allowed.

Your shadow self is a part of you that needs to be accepted and understood to have a healthy, whole mind.

“To confront your shadow is to bring the shadow into the light–a process that liberates it from you.”

– Caroline Myss

This quote sums it up so well because confronting your shadow in a safe place will help you to bring that shadow into the light – and that’s incredibly liberating.

Confronting your shadow self is done by challenging the behaviours of the shadow side of you and accepting, not judging, these shadow qualities as a part of yourself.

The most important step in shadow work is recognizing what your shadow feels like so that you can recognize when it arises or is triggered.

How can shadow work heal you?

Shadow work is a way of working with the darker parts of ourselves in order to recognise them, accept them and eventually integrate them.

Often it’s used as a term to describe shadow integration – the process of understanding how our shadow attributes have developed and learning how to accept that the shadow aspects are integrated into our personality, often without us realising it.

This helps us build a more complete sense of self and a more authentic life.

Prompts and exercises for shadow work can be a powerful way of coming to terms with shadow aspects that have been repressed, disowned or hidden from our conscious awareness.

They essentially have the same goal, which is about making these shadow parts conscious so they can be integrated into shadow integration.

Writing is a powerful tool that allows you to process thoughts and feelings stored in your subconscious.

If ordered effectively it can help you access shadow aspects that are hard to bring to the surface.

Having shadow work journal prompts can be very empowering because it gives you the opportunity to take control over these shadow aspects in order to bring about more inner harmony.

How do you know which shadow work prompts are good for you?

In shadow work, you’ll have to find a way to face some of your biggest fears and most uncomfortable feelings.

The prompts that are going to be most effective for you are the ones that literally make you shy away from them.

The questions that you can’t answer without cringing and squirming are the most effective because they cut straight to the heart of the matter.

To get the most out of your shadow work, you’ll have to challenge yourself.

This is a no pain, no gain, kind of situation.

25 shadow work questions to get you started:

  1. What do you think are the worst character traits a person can have? When is a time you have demonstrated these traits?
  2. How do you think people see you? How would they describe you? How do you feel about that?
  3. What are some things you’re holding on to from the past? Why aren’t you able to let go of them?
  4. What things trigger you? Consider where those irrational feelings stem from.
  5. Who has the most influence over you? Is that healthy?
  6. What things make you uncomfortable? What impact does it have on your life, and what could be a healthier reaction for dealing with it going forward?
  7. What things make you judgemental? Think about a hypothetical situation in which you’d agree somebody could behave in a way you’d usually judge, yet be entirely innocent.
  8. What are some habits you’re not proud of? Why do you keep doing them, despite knowing they aren’t healthy or positive for your life?
  9. When is the last time you felt let down? Examine how you felt and whether it was truly rational, or if you were triggered.
  10. What things do you wish people knew about you that no one would ever guess?
  11. What is the worst mistake you’ve ever made? What was your reaction to it?
  12. When have you felt powerless or out of control? How did that feel?
  13. What are some fears you have that hold you back from taking the steps that would make you happy? How can you start working past them, or learning how to cope with them better?
  14. How do you handle someone who doesn’t agree with you? Do they notice this reaction in you? Have they done something to hurt your feelings/make you angry/trigger a reaction from you – even indirectly – and if so, what would be a better way to deal with it?
  15. Describe a time in your life when you felt shame. What caused it? How did you feel? How did that experience shape your mindset or attitude towards something going forward?
  16. What are some things that make you uncomfortable? What impact does it have on your life, and what could be a healthier reaction for dealing with it going forward?
  17. What lies have you told yourself? How have they impacted you and your life?
  18. Who regularly belittles or downplays your emotions? How does it make you feel?
  19. What are some things you’re holding on to from the past? Why aren’t you able to let go of them?
  20. Who would miss if you never saw them again? How has that person influenced your life for good or bad, whether through their direct actions or indirectly?
  21. Who do you envy? Why? How might you be able to work towards gaining the things they have that you feel jealousy towards?
  22. Think of a relationship you’ve walked away from. Write down how doing that had a positive impact on your life.
  23. What misconception do people have about you? How does that make you feel?
  24. Which traits would you least wish to be described as having? Why would it be so terrible?
  25. When have you been self-sabotaging or destructive in your life? Examine how you were feeling at the time, and what triggered your behaviour.

Bonus question: How have any of the previous questions made you feel about yourself? About your life? About your future? About what steps you can take to form new, more positive habits and grow as a person?

The benefits of shadow work.

Shadow work prompts are used for self-examination, with the aim of making you aware of your earliest experiences: specifically traumatic events, which you may have subconsciously repressed or denied.

At least until awareness works its magic on you.

Working your way through these prompts is a wonderful way to identify your shortcomings and work on them with compassion.

And, more significantly, to consider what you learn from a non-judgemental standpoint as a result of it.

You can’t change others; you can only control yourself, and this is the basis of shadow work.

And you must become more than just your limitations in order to lead a full life.

You must accept yourself and others, forgive yourself and others, let go of the pain you’re holding on to in order to live a more peaceful life.