In this article, discover the meaning of shadow work, plus get 24 profound shadow work journal prompts to connect to your innermost self and begin the journey of deep healing and growth.
What Is Shadow Work?
We all have parts of ourselves that we keep hidden – from others, and often, from ourselves, too.
These are the aspects of our inner beings that we suppress, neglect, and exile to a deep corner hidden inside ourselves where no one can access.
Often, we label these parts of ourselves as wrong.
This label may come from childhood, when you were told by an adult that something you did or said was bad. Maybe you put yourself out there, wanting to impress an adult, and they reacted in a way that you perceived as negatively. In turn, this caused you to feel shame and embarrassment.
And no longer wanting to ever feel that depth of pain again, you locked away this part of you so that nobody will ever be able to cut you so deeply ever again.
We go to great lengths to protect ourselves. We hide parts of ourselves that we deem as being unflattering. We don’t like to expose our shadows out of fear of being judged, ridiculed, and abandoned.
But the truth is, we all have a darker side within us. We all experience greed, envy, selfishness, and other feelings we deem as negative.
Shadow work is the practice of gently acknowledging and bringing these hidden parts of yourself back to the surface. Instead of viewing yourself as a hundred different puzzle pieces, some lost and hidden, you see that you’re the whole puzzle. It’s embracing your wholeness – the entirety of who you are. The light. The dark. The difficult and vulnerable. All of it.
Because all parts of you are worthy of your own love and attention.
Shadow work isn’t easy, though, and I definitely recommend preparing yourself fully before diving straight in. Scott Jeffrey offers a great guide to shadow work here. Make sure you’re in a stable place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually before you begin working through these shadow work journal prompts.
Shadow Work Journal Prompts
Before we get to the journal prompts, I want to make an important note on how to approach your journaling session.
Shadow work can trigger a lot of feelings and thoughts within. And it can be really, really easy to be hard on yourself. Before you begin answering any of these questions, make a promise to yourself to refrain from self-criticism. The path to healing isn’t paved in self-judgment but in deep and profound self-compassion.
If it helps, you can write on the top of your paper, “I will be kind to myself today.”
Know that this really, truly isn’t about being perfect. It’s about acknowledging all parts of yourself, including the parts that you may neglect and bury deep within. You don’t have to do anything immediately to change or heal those parts of you.
Right now, just showing those parts of yourself that you see them and they’re not alone is enough.
- What are my pet peeves? Where do I think these pet peeves may have stemmed from?
- What personality traits bother me? What behaviors get under my skin? Do I possess any of these personality traits or behaviors?
- What external experiences trigger a negative reaction within me? Why do I think I react negatively to these experiences?
- Have I ever offered my authentic self to another and been rejected? How did this make me feel?
- What was I like as a child? Is there any aspect of my childlike self that I’ve lost touch with that I miss? What caused me to lose touch with this part of me?
- Did I experience any embarrassing or difficult situations when I was younger that had a profound effect on me? How do I feel when I think about that experience now?
- Do I try to hide any parts of myself from others? Why do I hide these parts of me?
- What personality traits do I notice in others that I wish I had? How do I feel when I’m around people with these traits?
- If I could change one part of myself, what would I change? (Now, challenge yourself to see if you can find at least one positive aspect of this part of you. Could this thing you don’t like be beneficial in any way?)
- What’s one of my greatest weaknesses? In what ways could this weakness be a strength?
- What emotions do I typically avoid feeling? (i.e. anger, resentment, sadness, grief) What do I think will happen if I allow myself to feel these emotions?
- Have I ever felt wronged by someone? How has that experience affected me?
- Think about a time when you felt wronged, betrayed, or let down. Write a letter to the person who caused these feelings.
- Have I ever wronged, betrayed, or let down another person? Have I forgiven myself for what I did?
- Think about a time you wronged, betrayed, or let down another person. Write a letter to yourself, forgiving yourself for this experience.
- Think about a time you wronged, betrayed, or let down another person. Write a letter to that person, asking for their forgiveness.
- What do I carry inside me that still needs to be healed? How can I take the first step to healing?
- What parts of myself do I neglect, ignore, and/or suppress? Why have I neglected these parts of myself? What would happen if I showed these aspects of my inner self a little more attention?
- Have I noticed any negative patterns that keep appearing in my life? What do I need to do to break this cycle?
- In what ways do I ghost myself? Do I ignore my own feelings, thoughts, needs, or desires? How does it feel to ghost myself?
- Think about some of the negative emotional reactions you’ve had over the past week. Is there a theme that ties these reactions together? If there’s one thing that particularly bothers you, is it possible that you see this bothersome thing reflected in yourself? (For instance, if narcissism triggers an especially powerful reaction in you, do you have any narcissistic tendencies that you try to hide from others?)
- Write a letter to yourself, from Fear. What does Fear want to tell you?
- Write a letter to yourself, from Shame. What does Shame want to tell you?
- Write a letter to yourself, from your shadow. What does your shadow want to tell you?
What does shadow work look like for you, and how has it affected your life? Share your tips and experiences in the comment box below.
And for more resources on spirituality, meditation, manifestation, and all things self-love, be sure to connect with me on Instagram and Pinterest, where I’m posting positive affirmations and empowering messages daily.
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Hi, I’m Zanna! I’m a blogger/freelance writer living in Boise, Idaho. My mission is to help you break through the barriers holding you back from accessing infinite abundance and to inspire you to gather the courage and confidence to follow your dreams.