These shadow work journal prompts are some of the best ideas for processing during mental health work, therapy, and while journaling.
Shadow Work Prompts
While on a journey of self-discovery, doing shadow work can be an incredibly powerful tool. As human beings, we tend to pass over the parts of ourselves that aren’t as easy to deal with, but if we don’t look into our shadow traits, we are missing out on important things that need to be explored.
These shadow work journal prompts are insightful questions that are designed to get you thinking about things that may make you uncomfortable. The best shadow work involves looking deep into the negative beliefs of your subconscious mind, so if looking through these journaling prompts makes you uneasy, you are doing something right.
What Is Shadow Work?
Psychologist Carl Jung had a philosophy that included various archetypes including the Persona, the Anima or Animus, the Ego, The Self, and the Shadow. While the persona is the person that you present to the world (the best version of yourself that includes the mask you wear for everyone to see), the shadow is the opposite.
In the context of Jungian theory, the shadow is the part of yourself that you have repressed. All of the pieces of yourself that people or society taught you weren’t productive or attractive. It is what we can’t see in ourselves any longer, but still exists within our true self.
In general, the shadow would include things such as envy, greed, prejudice, hate, and aggression. We have these negative qualities stuffed down deep and they can have a significantly negative impact on your personal growth if you continue to ignore them.
Imagine your shadow as you walk down the street. Your shadow never leaves you, but you don’t notice it. It is something that you essentially drag along – your shadow self – much like your past traumas and frustrations.
Working on your shadow is a healthy way to invoke some positive change. It is the practice of keeping an open mind towards your inner self that still has some work to do. Just because you have decided to stop behaving a certain way or focusing on a negative thing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It only lies in wait until the next time you address it.
Who Needs To Do Shadow Work?
Everyone can benefit from shadow work. Whether you are getting professional help with a licensed therapist or working through a process of self reflection on your own, taking a shadow work journey will allow you to get just as much clarity as working on the items that you know you need help with, if not more.
If you are someone who is looking to reach a higher self by delving into your conscious mind, it is vital to your personal development that you reach into your subconscious as well. The best way to begin something like that is to take a look at those shadow parts that produce a negative reaction from you.
What Is The Purpose Of Shadow Work?
The main purpose of shadow work is to get to know all facets of yourself. We are very complicated beings that have been affected by a countless number of influences and life experiences, each of which has left its mark. Doing your own shadow work will help you get in touch with those parts.
Having a better understanding of where your low self-esteem comes from or why your first response to a situation is anger is a first step towards taking control of your own life. Taking yourself through the process of shadow work will reintroduce you to those moments with a greater sense of control.
Explore Your Shadow Side With Caution
Good shadow work prompts may take a long time to get through, and that is okay. You will be looking at parts of yourself that you aren’t as proud of, possibly embarrassed by, and not something you think about in your conscious life.
Put in as much energy as you can at any given time, but continue to look at the light sides of yourself as well. You are a whole person with many facets, so just because you are working through challenging journal prompts doesn’t mean that you can’t also work through some more general therapy journal prompts at the same time.
Shadow work exercises are not something that you need to do on a daily basis, but you certainly can. It can be very heavy work, but one of the easiest ways to start is at the beginning.
If one journal prompt doesn’t speak to you, move on to the next. This isn’t an assignment that you need to complete from beginning to end. You will get your best results for shadow journaling when you feel engaged, and that is a positive thing.
Shadow Work Questions
1. What are some of your pet peeves about other people? Do you see these pet peeves in your own behavior?
2. What is something that you always complain about and why? What ownership do you have in the situation?
3. What are your most toxic traits?
4. What personal vices do you wish you had more control over?
5. What need do your vices satisfy? (distraction, you feel loved, calms anxiety, etc.)
6. What bad habit do you wish you could stop and why?
7. What is the worst lie you have ever told?
8. What is the worst thing you have ever done?
9. Have you ever apologized to someone you have hurt? Why or why not?
10. What aspects of your personality are you not proud of?
11. Write about an early childhood memory that sticks with you. Why do you think you remember it so clearly?
12. What is one of your most painful memories?
13. Which of your past experiences do you wish you could do over again?
14. Have you experienced any childhood trauma?
15. Have you experienced trauma as a teenager?
16. What friends are you envious of?
17. Have you ever stepped on someone else to get ahead? How did it make you feel?
18. Who and/or what irritates you and why?
19. What are you the most selfish about?
20. Are you ever rude on purpose and why does that happen?
21. How do you express your anger? How does that anger make you feel about yourself?
22. Do you think you are a good person or a bad person?
23. What negative emotions do you wish you could experience less?
24. What do you wish you could tell your inner child?
25. What is your inner child hurt about?
26. Do you have any inner demons that you can identify? How do they contribute or take away from your life?
27. Whether you have a diagnosed addiction issue or not, what can you envision yourself being addicted to and why? (drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc.)
28. When was the last time you fought with family members? What was it about and what triggered it?
29. What personal experiences do you wish you could tell your younger self to learn from?
30. Have you ever cheated on a significant other? What is your ownership in why it happened?
31. Do you think you are better than other people and why?
32. What unfulfilled desire have you had your entire life?
33. What are two negative traits about yourself that you’d like to work on? What would working on them change for you?
34. Do you have a favorite child/parent? Why or why not?
35. What are you the most afraid of and why?
36. Do you have any phobias and how do you think they started?
37. What is your relationship with sexual intimacy? How does it affect you emotionally?
38. Have you ever been physically/emotionally/sexually aggressive with someone?
39. Is it okay for you to be lazy? Why or why not? What defines laziness to you?
40. Have you ever deeply hated someone? Are you still holding that feeling and why?
41. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
42. Name something that you secretly judge about others. Why do you focus on that item?
43. Do you have a relationship with the dark side of your personality or do you think you are “good” all of the time?
44. What is something you want (and try to get) from other people?
45. If you could swap lives with someone else, who would you choose and why their life?
46. Who has been the biggest negative influence in your life and why?
47. What is the biggest promise you have ever secretly made to yourself? Have you kept it?
48. What is one of your biggest regrets?
49. What grudges are you holding and against who?
50. Are you able to forgive yourself for mistakes? Why or why not?
Where To Get A Therapeutic Journal
Journals are items that you can get at almost any store that sells stationary supplies. You can find them at your local bookstore, Target, Walmart, or Amazon. Choose a journal that speaks to you, as it’s something you should be able to feel comfortable both writing in and looking at.