You may be asking, “what is shadow work?” and “how does shadow work heal?”. Well, these 50 shadow work prompts & journal questions are a powerful way to help you heal and grow.
The term shadow work can scare a lot of people when they hear it.
They think it’s a weird and scary out-of-the-box concept that only far out spiritual people do.
However, there is nothing scary or out of the ordinary about doing a little shadow work to help you grow as a person.
What is shadow work? Shadow work is about unearthing your past inner child to give it the love and attention it deserved then in order to heal!
Shadow work is about healing and understanding your subconscious behaviors and traumas from your past.
The shadow refers to the “dark side of our personality” because it primarily comprises of negative human emotions such as anger, envy, and greed.
In this article, we’ll go deep into what the shadow is and how you can pinpoint it in yourself.
We’ll also uncover why shadow work is paramount for lasting change and how to heal yourself during your first shadow work session.
And we’ll also examine the nature of shadow work and use exercises and tips to help you do daily shadow work at home.
But first, let’s uncover where shadow work came from, what it is, and how answering the 50 shadow work journal prompts can help make a lasting change in your life, starting today!
“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole.”
– Carl Jung
What is shadow work?
Shadow work is about healing and understanding your subconscious behavior and trauma.
Shadow work is the act of unearthing the unconscious mind, be it “negative” or “positive” aspects that we may think about ourselves deep within our unconscious minds.
What do you use shadow journal prompts for?
You can use shadow journal prompts to heal the following:
- inner healing
- self love
- healing inner child
- letting go
- for teens
- most insecurities
What does shadow work mean spiritually?
Shadow work was a concept that has been around for centuries.
It’s most common in spiritual circles, sometimes called “healing circles.”
These healing circles were a sacred process where people would sit together in prayer or a healing ceremony and were committed to helping each other with their inner healing.
What is the process of shadow work?
The process of shadow work can be complex and anxiety-provoking for some.
It requires a lot of self-awareness to see ourselves in our own mind’s eye — while facing our fears — which can sometimes seem too big to handle on our own.
However, it’s certainly possible with just enough courage and the proper shadow work prompts!
Remember, the self-judgments we have about ourselves can become internalized beliefs that cause more problems for us in the future.
Therefore, with the help of the right shadow work prompts, maybe one day you can change for the better rather than just staying stagnant at your current state forever.
What is the “shadow self”?
Just as our shadows are always there, but they are out of sight, the shadow refers to everything that we cannot see within ourselves when it comes to a spiritual meaning of shadow work.
Your “shadow self”; is essentially the child who was hurt in your earlier years and did not get the compassion and love it deserved.
However, when it comes to doing shadow work with the use of good shadow work prompts, you’ll discover who your shadow self is, why it presented itself and why it needs to be healed from bad habits.
Your shadow side may have the following traits:
- Selfish behavior
- Praise dependent
- Highly competitive
What the “shadow self” isn’t.
When people are deep-diving into their past traumas and experiences, many think that they were terrible, and they also think this is exactly why so many problems had occurred.
However, the one thing your shadow self isn’t is the “bad guy or girl.”
Your shadow self was merely missing out on the love and attention it needed back then for you to be your highest authentic self now.
What happens when you suppress your shadow self?
If you have parts in you that you deny seeing, you’ll see those qualities in others — this is known as projection in psychology.
Anything we bury in ourselves is projected onto others. (source)
This is why shadow work can be so beneficial.
Shadow work can help lift the veil to these psychological projections that distort our reality to create a better boundary between our existence and our perceptions.
How do you know when your shadow self is present?
When you are deep diving into your shadow self with the help of shadow work prompts and questions, you’ll stir up a lot of emotions.
When this happens, it’s a tell-tale sign that your shadow self is starting to emerge with feelings such as sadness, guilt, shame, and anger.
However, don’t worry!
When your shadow self and limiting projections come to the surface, this is the perfect time to get to know who your shadow self is, why it presented itself to you and how you can heal your shadow self moving forward.
Why should you do shadow work prompts?
Since we all have a shadow self, which includes past traumas and painful experiences, the specific use of shadow work prompts will help identify the emotions and limiting beliefs holding you back in life.
Shadow work also prompts a great healing process for your past and, simultaneously, your future.
Furthermore, you will benefit from doing shadow work prompts if you have severe, profound, or unanswered questions regarding where you are heading in life.
1. Shadow work gets to the nitty and gritty.
Shadow work will get into what makes you tick and why.
It will unmask your weaknesses while simultaneously unmasking what’s holding you back in life.
By uncovering your “shadow self” and divulging what bothers you from deep down within, it is only then you will be able to heal and move forward in life more peacefully.
2. Shadow work helps when you get triggered by something.
Let’s face it; everybody gets triggered by something or someone in their life.
It could be a past thought, trauma, event, or scenario that had caused immense pain.
When these emotions are triggered, doing shadow work prompts is a great way to uncover what is causing you discomfort in life.
Moreover, shadow work is vital when your emotions are shame, anger, sadness, and guilt.
What do shadow work prompts heal?
The basis of looking within is that shadow work prompts are for healing.
Let’s face it, we all need to heal our wounded souls from time to time.
So if you would like to heal a specific area in your life? Shadow work prompts heal just about everything, such as:
1. Shadow work prompts are great for self love – If you lack self-love or self worth and know you need to appreciate and love yourself a little more, shadow work prompts are great for that.
2. Shadow work prompts help to heal relationships – Shadow work prompts are an excellent tool to help relationships become stronger and more whole.
3. Shadow work prompts are great for attracting manifestations – If you want to manifest something that you have desired for a very long time? Shadow work is a great tool to manifest your deepest desires. Once you unblock what has been bothering you or what has been holding you back in life, it will help free up more space to attract and manifest what you desire in life.
4. Shadow work prompts help to heal your inner child – The best thing about shadow work is that they are brilliant for healing your inner child and past wounds. And shadow work prompts for healing your soul are highly recommended for lasting change.
How do you get physically prepared for a shadow work session?
1. Take care of yourself.
2. Have a pen full of ink.
3. Have a shadow work journal (more on that below).
4. Have a glass of water nearby.
5. Get comfy.
6. Make sure you have limited distractions.
7. Take breaks.
9. Keep a practice of self-care handy just in case you feel overwhelmed.
How do you prepare mentally for a shadow work session:
1. Find a shadow that you want to work with, e.g., if you need outside validation, the pain of unworthiness, abandonment insecurities, or lack of confidence, find the shadow that is causing you frustration in life.
2. Invite whatever comes up to have a conversation. Sometimes you may find that you initially started with a shadow in mind, but another one pops up out of nowhere. This is good. You want to heal the unknown things that are holding you back in life.
3. Ask more questions, talk to it, imagine it, and accept that you’re not the same person you were. This is your chance to recognize your inner child and help it heal. (there are also more questions you can ask after a specific prompt later in this article, keep reading!)
4. Recognize the shadow that has revealed itself and accept it. Don’t judge it. Listen to it.
5. Imagine yourself traveling back in time (since time doesn’t follow any linear path), and see yourself as the person you were. Compare that person to how you are today, and be sure to give your shadow self the support that you needed back then.
6. When you feel comfortable with the inner work of your shadow work, release your shadow. It’s now time to let go of your past self (spiritually) and become the person you were meant to be today.
7. You can choose to burn the prompts you answered, tear them up, throw them away or hold onto them as a healing keepsake in your shadow work prompt journal.
8. There is no right or wrong way to do shadow work. Don’t over-intellectualize the healing process. What comes up through your writing is your shadow work for the day.
More inspiring journal prompts:
33 Journal Prompts For Self-Discovery (A Focused Goal Setting Challenge)
What to expect when doing shadow work?
Now before you deep dive into answering a few of the shadow work prompts listed in this article.
You must know this before you start: the darkness you may see when looking into your deepest shadows symbolizes everything about yourself that might have hindered your light from shining through.
These feelings include but are certainly not limited to emotions like guilt and shame of doing something wrong, frightening thoughts (such as those related to insecurity), and deep-seated feelings from some painful past experiences.
Some of these emotions may surface, all of these emotions may appear, or some of these emotions may not come up for you.
The shadow work process entirely depends on what you are trying to uncover or what needs to be uncovered.
Once you go through the shadow prompts, you will eventually uncover your shadow self that needs to be healed.
Disclaimer: Shadow work shouldn’t involve delving into trauma all day long.
If you are doing shadow work for the first time, it is highly recommended that your shadow work session shouldn’t be about delving into past trauma and “shadow self” all day long.
Shadow work is about bringing light and love into your darkest places and healing what needs to be healed.
However, you can’t heal everything and certainly not all at once.
Therefore it is highly advised to start with a few shadow work journal prompts and go from there.
Getting started with shadow work.
Most likely, you won’t find a connection with all of these prompts.
Nevertheless, the ones that you are most drawn to are the ones you should begin with.
Everyone has different histories, personalities, and struggles. Moreover, we all have our own unique shadows.
Further, if you follow what you feel is suitable for you, then you will have a much more profound experience than answering prompts for the sake of just doing the work.
Shadow work prompts for healing — 50 journal questions
Below are 50 shadow work prompts that I gathered that’ll encourage you to squirm.
Some may be easier than others to answer, but most importantly, most of them will be unlikely to be extremely easy to answer.
I chose these shadow work prompts to make you squirm because the deeper you dig, the more accountable you will be.
Further, the more accountable you are, the more you will be able to uncover the deep-seated answers within yourself that need to be heard.
These prompts can also be used in any which way you like.
You can choose to answer only one prompt per day or many; however, trust your intuition and listen to your heart.
You’ll find the right prompts that are right for you!
Q. What emotion do you try to avoid? How do those emotions make you feel? Write out how you feel.
Q. What have you taken for granted? If you have, how can you change it? Write down how you feel.
Q. Was your childhood negative or positive? Describe the most memorable memories you have from your childhood.
Q. What would you want to tell your past self? Write down how you feel.
Q. What are the worst traits that a person could have? Do you show these traits in your own life? Write out how you feel.
Q. What five words can describe who you are? What did you expect from this answer? Write out how you feel.
Q. Are you able to forgive yourself for making mistakes or when you do something wrong? Do you move on, or do you continue to shame yourself for making mistakes?
Q. Which behaviors do you judge the most in yourself? Is your judgment justified?
Q. Which behaviors do you judge the most in others? Is your judgment justified? Write out how you feel.
Q. What are you looking to be remembered for? Is this important to you? Write out how you feel.
Q. What does freedom look like for you? What would you need to lose or gain to have that freedom?
Q. What does security look like for you? Is there anything harming your security right now? Could you lose your security or gain more security?
Q. Which are you more concerned about, security or freedom? Write out how you feel.
Q. If you could get rid of one memory, what would it be? Why do you want to erase this memory?
Q. If that memory was gone, how do you think it would affect who you are right now? Write out how you feel.
Q. What is the number one behavior you judge the most in others? Is your judgment justified? Do you show the same behavior?
Q. Write about a time when you felt abandoned or let down. What emotions were triggered by it? What was the rationality of your reaction?
Q. Do you feel comfortable in your skin? What is the most important thing about you that you want to improve?
Q. Which person has the most significant influence over you in your life? Is that influence healthy? Write down how you feel.
Q. Are you or someone in your family codependent? Does codependency limit you from your freedom? Write out how you feel.
Q. Which one of your characteristics do you think is the most ignored, overlooked, or taken for granted? How does this make you feel?
Q. Which memories are most painful for you? Identify the emotion you are feeling. Next, reflect on your past, the circumstances that led to this memory’s unfolding, and how you have changed since the memory.
Q. Which person are you most jealous of? Is your jealousy justified? If you didn’t have this jealousy, how would it make you feel?
Q. Are you a slave to grudges? What are you unable to let go of? If you let go of these grudges, would you be happier? In what ways would you be more comfortable?
Q. Are you good at asking for help? What are your methods of approaching and interpreting support? If you asked for more help, how would that make you feel? Are your feelings justified?
Q. Are you a believer that asking for help is a sign of strength or weakness?
Q. If you could get rid of one habit, what would it be? In what way would your life change if you changed this habit?
Q. What makes you feel unsafe and self-conscious around other people? Write out how you feel.
Q. What could have been done to make your childhood better? How would it have looked? What emotions does this trigger in you?
Q. Which person has let you down the most? Which person have you been the most disappointed by? Do you see any commonalities? Are you able to accept the situation now?
Q. What makes you feel the most valued in life? Is your feeling unrealistic or justified? Write out how you feel.
Q. What are five things that could make you happy? How can you experience these things more on a daily basis? Are these changes vital for you?
Q. In what ways do you put yourself down? Do you hide this behavior behind humor or anger? How does this make you feel on a deeper level?
Q. What are your greatest fears in life? What do you fear the most out of them? Is your greatest fear justified? Write out how you feel.
Q. What is the one thing that you are currently avoiding in life? How does this make you feel? If you didn’t avoid it, how would it make you feel?
Q. Have you been dishonest to anyone or yourself? What emotions does dishonesty bring up for you? Have you been honest with your feelings? How can you gain honesty with your feelings?
Q. What are two negative thoughts you always think about? Why are those thoughts coming to your mind? How can you change those negative thoughts to positive thoughts?
Q. How has your past impacted those or other negative thoughts? Do your negative thoughts link to any trauma? Write out how you feel.
Q. How worthy do you honestly believe you are? Do you think you are worthy of a good life?
Q. Do you handle your negative feelings healthily and constructively? How do you manage your negative emotions when they arise? How does this make you feel?
Q. What do you consider the most challenging for yourself? What area in your life could this challenge be changed?
Q. How do you cope with sadness? Can you think of healthier ways to cope with sadness? Write out how you feel.
Q. How do you cope with frustration? Can you think of healthier ways to cope when feeling frustrated? Write out how you feel.
Q. How do you cope with anger? Can you think of healthier ways to cope with anger? How does this make you feel?
Q. How long do you reflect on your past failures or mistakes? Do you have difficulty coming to terms with them? Do you suppress these feelings? Write out how you feel.
Q. Do you find it hard to forgive yourself? How does this make you feel?
Q. Do you find it hard to forgive others? What emotions does this bring up for you?
Q. Do you reward yourself for accomplishing something positive? Or are you hard on yourself when you perform something positive?
Q. What are the worst traits you have had in your life? Write about how you have demonstrated these traits. What would your life look like if you didn’t have these traits?
Q. Do you feel misunderstood? If yes, what misconceptions do people have of you?
Q. Do you accept yourself as you are now? Write out how you feel.
More inspiring journal prompts:
33 Journal Prompts For Self-Discovery (A Focused Goal Setting Challenge)
Digging deeper with a specific shadow work prompt.
When you are shadow working, your primary goal is to bring up any negative energy and emotions to replace that energy and emotions with positive feelings and thoughts.
Or at the very least, gain a new perspective.
However, if you found a specific prompt that you would like to investigate further or had heavy feelings that started to surface.
Dig a little deeper into why these emotions arose for you.
Write down how you feel, no matter how bad it is.
Don’t edit yourself. Just let the pen move freely.
The shadow work prompts will do a great job of bringing up any negative beliefs you have about yourself.
Moreover, only when this happens can you begin your emotional healing to look at your pain and suffering from a new fresh perspective.
Answering shadow work questions is also a beautiful and cathartic process that will help release any limiting beliefs holding you back in life.
Remember that although shadow work can be challenging, it is a rewarding way to make a difference for yourself and your life.
If you feel stuck, believe in the process, and most importantly, believe in yourself.
Would you like to dig deeper with a specific shadow work prompt that brought up more for you to heal and investigate?
Ask yourself these additional questions for more healing:
- How do you feel? Name all the emotions, sensations, and feelings you feel in the moment. Feel the parts of your experience you have long suppressed.
- When was the last time you felt this exact feeling? Visualize when you experienced this same feeling before.
- When was the first time I felt this feeling? Try to go back all the way to your childhood, even if you don’t understand it.
- What images are you seeing?
- What emotions are coming up?
- What are your senses of smell?
- What are the sensations in your body?
- What is the reason you feel what you are feeling right now? What’s the situation?
Moving forward: How to continue healing your shadow self.
Even though there are loads of ways to look at a problem to analyze if it’s true or not, sadly, we weren’t given or “gifted” the right tools to unlock our highest genuine potential.
Yes, shadow work prompts (like the shadow work prompts listed above) work brilliantly independently on their own.
Two things you can do to initiate the shadow work healing:
One way to continue your healing through shadow work is through the use of meditation.
After you have answered a prompt that had brought up more emotions than you had anticipated, the additional use of meditation during your shadow work session will allow you to take a deep breath and examine the feelings you feel.
This is especially important because when you have specific answers and emotions that have come to the surface that you didn’t expect, meditating on them is a great way to help you understand why you feel the way you do and how those feelings arose.
2. Shadow work journal:
Another great way to continue your healing through shadow work is through the use of maintaining a shadow work journal.
When you write down your feelings, they also won’t be lost in translation, and they will be right there in front of you for you to refer back to them whenever you decide to do another shadow work session.
What benefits does a shadow work journal have?
If you do decide to make shadow work a consistent part of your everyday healing, there are also many benefits to having a consistent shadow work journal which includes:
- Creativity becomes exercised through a shadow journal. A shadow work journal forces you to look at yourself in creative ways you would not usually think about.
- A more open mind. A shadow work journal will allow new ideas and inspiration back into your life with an open mind.
- A Shadow work journal will help you get to the bare bones of what has held you back in life.
- A Shadow work journal will help you identify your triggers and why you have the triggers you have.
- A Shadow Work journal is also the perfect balance of inspiration, organization, and accountability.
- A shadow work journal is a great way to share your inner thoughts with yourself or continue on your inner healing journey.
- A shadow work journal can help provide an outlet for personal reflection while still keeping up-to-date track of what you would like to accomplish towards your inner healing.
Meditation and journaling are both great avenues to try whatever route you decide to use to increase your likelihood of healing your shadows.
How shadow work helped me:
I don’t know about you, but my manifestations and higher self have been blocked lately.
I’ve been having some past thoughts creep up, and I wanted to understand why my past trauma popped up in my head more these days.
This is why I decided to turn to see what shadow work was all about.
I also wanted to see what shadow work entailed and why I felt so down and pessimistic about life.
As I began to look deep within (answering a few shadow work prompts), it ended up being an exciting and eye-opening experience for me.
It turns out my past self, aka my “shadow self,” had a lot to say to my current self.
We had an excellent and meaningful conversation with a few shadow work prompts, and I was amazed and impressed by the whole experience.
This is exactly why I wrote this article.
Shadow work was a meaningful conversation that unlocked what was bothering me.
Plus, it is a fantastic tool to help you do the same.
Best shadow work prompts final thoughts.
When you write down all of the things that bug or irritate you, shadow work prompts will help you sort through any uneasy feeling you have.
This way, they don’t consume too much space within your mind and help unleash the negative energy you are holding onto into something more light and cheerful.
Further, by looking deep within yourself through the power of shadow work, you really will become unstoppable!
You’ll also begin to heal what’s hurting you deep down within yourself, and there is no harm in trying to heal your life.
Always remember, you own the key to your dreams and your heart’s desires.
You can achieve anything you put your mind to, and lastly, you can change.
I hope these shadow work prompts shed some light on letting you know how powerful you are.
Moreover, I also hope you know that you can refer back to this shadow work journal prompts article anytime you wish!
More inspiring Journal Prompts:
Check out, 19 Self Discovery Journal Prompts To Help You Find Your Purpose, next!
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