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8 Benefits of Shadow Work & 10 Prompts to Help You Start Your Practice

By Krista

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Last Updated: April 1, 2022

"I think it's important for anyone doing shadow work to have things that help them feel grounded and accepted. A nonjudgmental therapist can go a long way to help with this, but we also need our own tools that help us reaffirm and accept ourselves as we face the more difficult feelings and parts of ourselves." - Licensed therapist Jor-El Caraballo.

Whether we do it intentionally or not, all of us have parts of ourselves that we hide from the world. This shadow follows us through life. We might not even notice its weight on our shoulders or its interference in our relationships or day-to-day. Yet, it’s there.

Surprisingly, the part of you that you keep from others, intentionally or not, has a name. It’s called your shadow self. 

In fact, working through the dark parts of yourself with shadow work can be very challenging and triggering, as many have repressed traumas from childhood and beyond.

However, there are many incredible benefits to shadow work and shadow work journaling that can help you achieve your full potential in relationships and in life. 

In this article, we outline eight benefits of shadow work and ten journaling prompts to get you started with your practice. Let’s take a look!

 

What is Shadow Work Writing?

Everyone can benefit from doing deep, inner work, even if it's only a little bit. The journey of shadow work can be intense, but the results can be life-changing. 

Shadow work journaling requires you to look deep within yourself to pull out the negative emotions, behaviors, and thoughts you might have. If you have a significant amount of trauma, you will benefit significantly from this type of work. 

And while self-directed shadow work can be great for many people, others may need the assistance of a licensed therapist. This is especially true for those with significant and triggering trauma.

The important part of it all is to be gentle with yourself. Emotional work, like shadow work, can be daunting as it tends to bring up feelings you may not know you had or know how to process. 

Yet, a professional can be a helpful tool to cope with the unresolved trauma you might have. In fact, consulting with a pro might actually be the best way to go about uncovering these emotional wounds and traits.

Related Article: 8 Astonishing Toxic Traits You'll Want to Put a Stop To

 

Why Is It Called Shadow Work?

Your shadow self is the dark side you don't show to other people. Shadow work is learning to forgive and work through your shadow self. 

If you're familiar with the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, you may have heard this term before. He suggests that we all have the archetypes of the shadow self, the self, the Anima/Animus, and the persona. He actually considered these universal symbols that we all have, no matter where you come from or who you are.

In many ways, the shadow self is often compared to Freud's Id. Freud suggested that we're comprised of the Ego, the Superego, and the Id. The Id is the part of us that holds our primitive desires and repressed memories, again, similar to the shadow self.

So, how can you begin to uncover this shadow self?

 

Shadow Work for Beginners

Before you take on the task of shadow work journaling, please note that the process will bring up many emotions. It can be difficult for many people. Seek the help of a licensed therapist to assist you with this journey if you feel it would be helpful for you.

The goal of shadow work journaling is to learn about and forgive yourself for the parts of yourself you find unsavory. This can help you achieve a happier, healthier, and more accepting mindset. When the shadow remains untouched, we operate by its rules. Freeing ourselves from its hold can open up a whole new world to us. 

 

Eight Benefits of Shadow Work 

Before we offer a few prompts to help guide your practice, let’s take a closer and brief look at the benefits of shadow work. How can it help you and your life?

1. It can help you feel more whole.

You'll likely feel free, and once you acknowledge the shadow part of you, you can stop thinking of yourself in parts. 

2. It can help you gain more confidence and improve your self-esteem.

Addressing your trauma and the parts of yourself you don't like can help you become more confident. You will feel unstoppable when you show up as yourself authentically. Once you heal the parts of yourself you don't like, your self-esteem will improve, and you'll be able to offer so much more of yourself to the world. 

3. It can help you have better relationships with others.

When your self-awareness improves, you can begin to trust yourself again. When you begin to love yourself, you can remove projections and have more patience with people in your life. In turn, you'll form stronger bonds with others. 

4. You may be able to heal your generational trauma.

Shadow work starts with your childhood trauma. Many of us who have suffered severe trauma as children have done so as part of a cycle. Your parents may have similar traumas and gotten caught in the cycle.

As you heal, you're healing the trauma for the generations before you so you can do better for the generations to come. 

5. It can help strengthen your intuition.

When you repress many issues, working through them can help strengthen your intuition to know yourself deeper. 

6. It can help you be more creative.

When you are operating under the control of your shadow, it doesn't just impact the parts of you that you feel are negative. It can stop you from being wonderfully creative and expressing yourself in ways that can offer value to others. 

7. It can improve your self-actualization.

If you're on a self-growth journey in general, you can become the best version of yourself once you work through these parts of yourself. 

8. It can improve your overall wellness.

We know mental health is an essential part of overall wellbeing. When you stop repressing your shadow, you can heal yourself from many things like unhealthy relationships or anxiety. Shadow work journaling can help find the root cause of many issues.

 

10 Shadow Work Prompts to Start Your Practice

If you’ve chosen to work with a therapist, it may help to consult with them before diving into the following journal prompts. If you want to start or do it alone, feel free to use the prompts below to help you live a more free and fulfilling life.

  1. What are you hoping to achieve with shadow work journaling?
  2. How do you feel about your past trauma? What kind of weight do you carry? How does it affect you?
  3. How do you feel about yourself as a person?
  4. When was a time you felt let down by someone you respected?
  5. How do you feel about confrontation? Explain why you think you feel this way?
  6. What's the most significant lie you've told and why?
  7. How were you shown to deal with your emotions as a child?
  8. Who did you look up to when you were growing up and why?
  9. What do you do when you're bored? How do you practice self-care?
  10. When are you hardest on yourself?

Related Article: 40 Inspiring Journal Prompts to Guide Your Deep & Personal Journey

 

Accept Yourself Wholly

Shadow work journaling can be beneficial in healing your inner challenges and finding greater happiness.

Seek the help of a licensed therapist if you're unable to complete the above prompts in a self-directed way or you have a significant amount of trauma that you need to work through. Doing this alone can be too overwhelming for some of us.

Yet, know that asking for help is sometimes necessary to get the most out of the rest of your life. We all need a helping hand once in a while. And if the result might force you to become more whole as a person, it’s entirely worth it. 

Acknowledging the darker parts of ourselves can help us become the best version of ourselves. Your weaknesses become your strengths because you know and understand what works for you and what doesn’t. Begin untangling your shadow self. Great things could come from it!

Read Next: Trauma Survivor? Why Body-Based Therapy Is Essential

Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

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2 comments on “8 Benefits of Shadow Work & 10 Prompts to Help You Start Your Practice”

  1. This type of work is beneficial.
    I have had traimng through the years tat have helped.and continue t as needed.

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