Doing shadow work is one of the greatest gifts to give yourself.
It’s a way to uncover the true you — including your faults, goals, and triggers.
But nobody ever said it was easy. In fact, most people never even attempt to unpack their shadows because they cannot handle looking at the less-than-ideal parts of themselves.
To that end, in this post, we’re looking at shadow work prompts you can explore when on the journey.
Let’s dive in!
The Benefits of Using Shadow Work Journal Prompts
A shadow work prompt can help you explore specific issues related to your self-discovery, and the benefits are many.
Prompts can guide you to asking the right questions and exploring the areas of your psyche that you need to bring into the light.
Other benefits of shadow work journaling include:
- Better Relationships: When your shadow self is in control, you typically treat other people worse than you think.
- Less Depression and Anxiety: The shadow self can accommodate incredible amounts of depression and anxiety.
- More Money: When you get over the hurdle of confronting your shadow, you’ll be able to think better, work more effectively, and your brain won’t be as cloudy and anxious.
- Increased Emotional Intelligence: Working on your shadow gives you more compassion and understanding, thus increasing your emotional intelligence.
- You Become an Overall Better Person: Staring down your subconscious mind clears out the cobwebs and makes you a better overall person.
What Do You Write in a Shadow Work Journal?
We won’t sugarcoat it. When done correctly, shadow journal work is tough. Tungsten tough. Curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-and-weep tough.
In fact, if it’s not difficult, you’re probably doing it incorrectly.
Though true, please don’t take that last statement personally. Because, in reality, most people’s initial attempts at shadow work fail.
For starters, shadow work involves a lot of analysis and trauma recollection, which can be downright painful.
Secondly, it’s about acknowledging weaknesses and faults — and one of the most challenging human hurdles is developing the character and compassion to see when we’re wrong and apologize.
(Think about it: Most people believe they’re right about most things. It’s human nature!)
So what types of things fill shadow-work journals?
- Reflections on past traumatic experiences
- Acknowledgments of biases, prejudices, and internalized stereotypes
- Recountings of mistakes and bad behavior
- Analysis of how life experiences have instilled fears, anxieties, and doubts
- Explorations of the lies one tells themself as a result of a shadow self
How to Start a Shadow Work Journal
How do you start a shadow work journal? Just like you would any other type. First, pick a book and writing implements that you love.
It’s always better to journal manually instead of digitally because the kinetic activity of putting pen to paper helps us process the information more effectively.
When choosing your tools, consider where you will do most of your journaling and pick accordingly.
For example, if you enjoy writing outside, you’ll need a hardcover journal with spirals to easily fold the book in half and have a built-in hard surface.
Before starting, it will help to commit to the following things:
- The Inevitability of Fallibility. Promise you will not beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made. There’s a big difference between maturely acknowledging you were wrong and lambasting yourself into a state of depression.
- Honesty. It’s impossible to tame your shadow self if you can’t admit how it’s negatively impacted your life.
- Change. Ultimately, shadow work helps you become a much better human. But to do that, you must be willing to change.
69 Shadow Work Prompts for Journaling
We’ve discussed the benefits of self-exploratory work.
Now, let’s dive into some shadow journaling prompts.
Shadow Work Prompts for Healing
1. In what ways am I like my parents, siblings, and extended family?
2. Is there any way I wish I weren’t like my family? Have I ever expressed this to them?
4. What pains and shames do I ruminate about? Is there any way I could stop the intrusive thoughts?
5. If other people knew my entire story, would they be more understanding and accepting?
6. In what situations do I feel subpar? Happy? Safe?
7. How do I avoid confronting terrible incidents from my past?
8. Do I self-sabotage? If so, how?
9. What do I do when I get upset? How do I soothe myself? Is it healthy or destructive?
10. Have I forgiven the people who’ve hurt me? Is it possible?
11. How do I go about forgiving myself?
12. Think back to when you let your emotions get out of control. How did the episode unfold? What do you wish you could have done differently?
13. How can I be kinder to myself? Why don’t I do those things now?
14. Do I hold myself to a higher standard than I do other people? Am I being fair to myself?
Shadow Work Questions
15. What values did my parents and community instill in me? Do they align with my genuine opinions?
16. How do I define failure?
17. What opportunity or opportunities have I squandered? Think about why.
19. What people have rejected me? How have I handled it? Were they right or wrong?
20. When was the last time I felt entirely accepted? Who was there? (It’s OK if you were alone. That’s very normal.)
21. Life stages are perfectly normal. What life stage would I rather not experience again?
22. How can I be more compassionate with myself?
23. Would I be happy or still have lingering issues if I achieved all my goals?
24. Am I someone who never has “enough”?
25. Is my inner voice more critical of myself or others?
26. What do I bring to the table? (Feel free to brag.)
27. How do I celebrate my achievements?
28. Have I ever felt abandoned by people I love? How did I react?
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Spiritual Shadow Work Prompts
29. What feelings and emotions do I prefer to avoid?
30. Do I confront issues head-on or brush them beneath the rug?
31. Are my chakras aligned? Could working on them help me?
32. What does my higher self think of my behavior? Does he/she/they have compassion for me?
33. What would happen if I let myself feel the emotions that bubble up?
35. How often have my fears come to fruition?
36. Do I spend a lot of energy pleasing other people? Why?
37. Do I view other people in a clear light or graft my insecurities and judgments onto them?
38. What narratives do I listen to regarding “wanting more” or “fitting in”? Are they objectively true?
39. How do I experience big energy? Is it healthy?
40. Every day is a new opportunity to try again. What do I feel I have control over that I could turn off immediately? How would doing so make my life better?
41. Am I afraid to be alone? Why? Is my shadow self the fearful one?
42. In the past, what has happened when I let down my guard?
Deep Shadow Work Prompts
43. Has someone ever tried to tell you something about yourself that you refused to believe? What would it mean if they were right?
44. What don’t I like about myself? What do I want to change?
45. What are my three worst qualities? (Backdoor brags like “I work too much” or “I’m too nice” don’t count.)
46. What is the meanest thing I think I’ve ever done to somebody?
47. What is the meanest thing other people may say I’ve done to them? Do they have a point?
48. When was the last time I felt jealous of someone? Why? How did you express yourself in the moment?
49. When do I feel the most defensive?
51. Do I easily forgive friends who upset me, or do I hold onto grudges?
52. Do I forgive myself for things that upset me about other people?
53. What do people accuse you of that drives you nuts? (Remember, the things that most irritate us are often things that we, too, do.)
54. Are my goals reasonable? Do any feel impossible? If so, why?
55. Is there a relationship issue that has stalked me throughout life? What can I do to change it?
56. Does this statement apply to you: “I’m easily swayed by others’ opinions? I find it difficult to assert my voice and figure out what is me versus them.” Explore this statement in relation to yourself.
Shadow Work Prompts for Trauma
57. Who has hurt me?
58. Am I judged for my mental health issues?
59. Is there anyone in my life with whom I feel completely safe?
60. What taboos have you been forced to break in your life? Were you a willing participant or lied to and cajoled?
61. What parts of my life have hurt me the most? How do I feel when these times elbow their way to the front of my mind?
62. Do I regularly downplay my emotions to appeal to other people?
63. Do you keep people in your life who you genuinely do not like? Why?
64. If I could be any person in the world, it would be _____. Why?
65. Do I often say one thing and really mean something else? Why do I do this?
66. How do I feel when I think about the times that other people have manipulated me?
67. Do I need to set better life boundaries?
68. Do I let my shadow self or compassionate self draw my boundaries?
69. What is my inner truth? Does it deserve to shine?
As we’ve said, moving forward with shadow work can be difficult. Sometimes, it’s downright excruciating to realize that we’re not the person we hoped we were.