Your Guide To Shadow Work Journal Prompts
Everyone has a shadow self, or an unconscious self. Everyone has secrets, things they’re ashamed of, things they block out of their mind or numb as a form of protection. But what exactly is a shadow self? How can we access our shadow selves? And how can we start healing through the use of shadow work journal prompts?
In the rest of this blog, I’ve put together some key bits of info on why journaling is an incredible form of shadow work, and offer a bit of a guide into journaling for shadow work. I’ve also put together 17 example shadow work journal prompts that you might find helpful. Enjoy!
What is the Shadow Self?
The shadow self, known in Jungian psychology as the “shadow,” is all of your repressed and suppressed thoughts and memories that lie outside of your comfort zone. It’s the dark, rejected side of your personality that you keep hidden from the world. The shadow self is often associated with anger, aggression, fear, and other negative emotions.
Carl G. Jung believed that we rejected these parts of ourselves to avoid feeling discomfort or pain, and also to protect our egos. Your shadow may include anything from your early childhood experiences to your most humiliating moments, your sexual history and urges, your deepest and darkest secrets and any traumatic or disturbing memories. Think of the shadow as a collection of all that you don’t like to see in yourself, but which still exists deep down below the surface.
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How do we access our Shadow Selves?
Jung wrote: “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
In other words, the less you look at your shadow self, the darker and denser it becomes. The only way to bring this darkness into the light is through consciously engaging with those aspects of yourself that you would rather not acknowledge.
To access our shadow selves, we need to have an honest look at who we are, warts and all. The shadow will continue to haunt us until it is brought out into the light of day where it can be dealt with, accepted, and integrated into our egos. One way to access your shadow self is through shadow work.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is the process of exploring your shadow self and bringing those aspects of yourself into the light. It can be a challenging but ultimately healing experience.
Shadow work often involves working with dreams, fantasies, and repressed memories. It can involve visualisation exercises, journaling, and maybe even talking to others about your shadow self – but this isn’t required! Some people find it especially helpful to work with a therapist when doing shadow work, as it can be a process that accesses distressing memories and brings up difficult emotions.
The Benefits of Journaling Shadow Work
Journaling the shadow work process can be a very helpful way to get in touch with your shadow self. When you write about what you are discovering, it creates both mental and emotional distance that makes these shadowy parts of yourself seem less threatening. Putting pen to paper literally helps “move” this material out of your subconscious so that you can see it more objectively.
Journaling can also help you to understand and integrate your shadow self into your everyday life. As you write, you may find that certain themes or patterns keep emerging. This can be helpful in terms of understanding how the shadow self is manifesting in your life. It can also help you to address these issues head-on.
Finally, journaling can be a great way to process and release difficult emotions that may arise during the shadow work process. It can provide a space for you to express yourself freely and without judgement. This is why it is vital to make sure you have privacy for these journaling exercises, like a private document, or a notebook.
Related Reading: Journaling For Mental Health: The Ultimate Guide
How To Journal Shadow Work
To use these journal prompts, simply answer the questions in your journal. You can also use them to explore your dreams and fantasies, as well as memories that may be related to your shadow self. It’s important to try and be open and honest with yourself when journaling your shadow work, so that you access the most complete picture possible about this material.
Remember, journaling is meant to be a process of discovery, so there are no right or wrong answers. Here are a few beginners steps to shadow work journaling:
Part 1: Ask Yourself Some Basic Questions About Your Shadow Self
First, to get a basic idea of your shadow self, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions about your shadow self. The more open-ended these questions are, the better. Here are some examples:
- What do I want?
- What is stopping me from getting what I want?
- How am I sabotaging my own efforts to get what I want in my life?
- How am I holding myself back from the things that truly matter to me?
- Who has influenced me in a negative way and caused me to become more distrustful or fearful of people?
- What aspects of myself do I find most difficult to accept or even acknowledge?
Part 2: Explore Your Dreams
Often, our dreams can be a gateway to the shadow self. When you have a dream that feels scary or disturbing, ask yourself what that dream is trying to tell you about your shadow self.
Once you have a clearer idea of the meaning behind this particular dream, write it down in your journal as if you were talking directly to that part of your shadow self. Explain why it feels so scary to acknowledge this aspect of yourself, and what you could do to bring it out into the light in a less frightening way.
Part 3: Continue Working Through Shadow Work Prompts
Once you’ve done some basic prompts, you can explore specific shadow work topics in more depth. These prompts will help you to surface and process difficult emotions that may arise during the shadow work process. Some of these themes might include shame, guilt, humiliation, anger, and more. Some of my favourites are listed below. I hope you find them helpful.
17 Shadow Work Journal Prompts
Here are 17 journaling prompts for shadow work that I hope you find useful. I’m definitely going to be spending some time on this again soon.
- What aspects of yourself do you try to hide from others?
- What do you think will happen if they see these sides of you?
- Which of your behaviours are driven by protecting your image?
- Which situations trigger you the most?
- What events in your past have taught you this?
- What personality traits do you dislike in others?
- How do they relate to your own actions and behaviours?
- What do you feel guilty for?
- Are you continuing any behaviours that are creating guilt?
- What do you see as your worst personality traits?
- What do you think others think and say about you?
- How do you deal with negative emotions?
- How could you improve this?
- What grudges are you holding onto?
- How does shame or guilt relate to these grudges?
- What scares you the most?
- How do your fears impact your day-to-day behaviours?
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