You may have heard or read about “Shadow work” quite often recently, as this practice becomes more and more popular amongst people who are on a healing, self-development, and growth journey.
Shadow work is a vast field, but in this article, I will teach you how to use shadow work prompts as a beginner.
I have chosen to start with the shadow work prompts – out of all the shadow work techniques, because they are probably the easiest, most accessible method to work on your shadow.
All you need is a quiet space, a pen, and a journal.
What Are Shadow Work Prompts?
The term “shadow work” stems from psychologist Carl Jung’s work.
Carl Jung is one of the pioneers of Psychology, who had a big influence on how Psychology has evolved as a science.
His work was crucial for the development of Psychology we know it.
He was the first to have spoken about shadow – a term used to describe that undesirable part in all of us, that holds our hidden desires, flaws, negative feelings, and emotions, basically, everything that comes in contradiction with societal norms.
The shadow is a part of your subconscious, and it holds your most negative traits or beliefs.
These negative traits, as Jung says, were probably acquired in childhood, through unpleasant experiences and traumas.
I like to link it to the theory of reincarnation and to say that we acquired a lot of traumas or negative traits in other lives as well, which we carry with us as problems to heal or lessons to learn.
One very simple way to understand and heal your shadow is by using a journal for shadow work prompts.
The prompts are simple yet effective questions that help you see a bit more of that hidden side of you, which you don’t want anyone else to see.
We all go through life trying to hide our shadow because we believe once people have seen our darkest side, they will leave us, dislike us, judge us, discriminate against us, or even belittle us.
Shadow work prompts are designed to help you look straight at that undesirable part of you – which we all have, by the way, and bring it into the light so that it doesn’t lead your life from the dark.
As Carl Jung said, “Until you make the subconscious conscious, it will lead your life and you will call it fate”.
How To Use Shadow Work Prompts As a Beginner
If you want to use shadow work prompts as a beginner, follow the next steps:
#1. Decide how often you use shadow work prompts – I suggest every day or once every two days, for the best results.
#2. Make it a part of your daily routine – Decide if you want to do your prompts ritual in the morning, evening, or any other moment of the day, and make sure you are available at that time, with no one and nothing to disturb you.
#3. Choose a journal that inspires you – I always find it easy to write on something that I like, such as a fancy notebook, in my favorite color.
#4. Get yourself “in the mood” – Put some meditation music, light a candle, relax and start writing. You need to be able to access your subconscious, and for that, you need to prevent your conscious mind from being in the way.
#5. Start writing – write every prompt, then think well about your answer, meditate upon it and answer as honestly as possible.
Trauma Beginner Prompts
If the purpose of you doing shadow work is to heal the trauma you acquired throughout your life, here are a few prompts you can use to process and release your trauma faster:
#1. Name one toxic situation in which you felt unhappy and trapped like there was no escape from it. Who made you feel trapped and in what way?
#2. What hurt you the most about the abovementioned situation? List all the emotions you were feeling and do an emotion-release meditation.
#3. In which other areas of your life do you feel trapped, or unhappy? What can you do to change the situation?
#4. Name one situation/ event in your life that happened a long time ago, yet still affects you emotionally.
#5. What emotions did this event make you feel? What did it make you feel about yourself and people? (again do an emotion-releasing meditation).
#6. When was the first time you felt sad? Try to access the first memory you can remember. Explain the situation in detail, then visualize it as vividly as possible and again do an emotion-release meditation.
#7. When was the first time you felt angry, that you can remember? Again, explain the situation in as much detail as you can, then visualize it vividly and do an emotion-release meditation.
#8. When was the first time you felt powerless? Think about the earliest memory you can access. Explain the situation in detail, then visualize it as vividly as possible and release it through meditation.
#9. What negative beliefs do you hold about yourself and life? How did you acquire them? Are you ready to let them go?
#10. What are you most afraid of and why? When did you first feel this specific fear?
Self-love Beginner Prompts
Loving yourself can be tough if you were raised in an unloving environment.
You may have had parents who showed love and affection only when you behaved in a certain way, or when you had good grades.
Or maybe other aspects prevent you from loving yourself, such as not accepting certain parts of your body, your sexuality, your background, etc.
Whatever it is, it’s best to release it as soon as possible and learn to love yourself.
Self-love is the foundation of a happy, fulfilled life.
People who don’t love themselves will always sabotage their happiness, or allow others to treat them poorly. To cultivate your self-love, try using the following shadow work prompts:
#1. What do I most like about myself?
#2. What are my best qualities?
#3. What am I good at?
#4. Why do others appreciate me?
#5. Why do others choose me to be in their lives?
#6. What would I do today if I loved myself?
#7. What do I need to release to love and accept myself fully?
#8. For what do I need to forgive myself?
#9. How does the perfect life look for me and what steps do I need to start living it?
#10. In what way do I make the world a better place?
Relationship Beginners Prompts
Relationships are a crucial aspect of our lives, as we all need to feel that we belong to someone and something.
We need hugs, smiles, beautiful moments and memories, happiness and joy, and that all comes in relationships.
However, if we grew up in a toxic environment or in a family that lacked love, we may have trouble at forming and maintaining good quality relationships.
The following relationship prompts will help you identify what you need to change to transform your relationships for the better:
#1. How do you view your mother? What do you feel towards her? (how you view your mother is how you view women in general).
#2. How do you view your father? What do you feel towards him? (how you view your father is how you view men in general).
#3. How was the relationship between your parents during your childhood and adolescence? What conclusion did you draw about relationships, based on what you saw at home?
#4. How do the men/women you are attracted to resemble your opposite-sex parent?
#5. Why did your last relationship end? What made you feel/think about yourself? Have you completely moved on after the break-up?
#6. Which past relationship still makes you feel unpleasant emotions? Write about it in detail, then do an emotion-release meditation.
#7. What aspects do all your past relationships have in common?
#8. Name one thing that all your past relationships have in common, which did not work for you or hurt you.
#9. What are the best/worst traits a person can have and why?
#10. Describe the perfect partner in detail. What can you do to become the vibrational match of that partner?
Tips On Doing Shadow Work As a Beginner
Shadow work is not necessarily easy, especially until you get used to it.
We were taught to ignore our shadow side and to suppress it, then when it surfaced, we were taught to be ashamed of it. Thus, working on your shadow may feel uncomfortable at first.
You will discover truths you never even knew existed.
It’s very important that you continue to do it until you feel that you understand your shadow and have healed most of it.
The following tips will help you work with your shadow easier:
#1. Make sure you have a safe space for shadow work
You don’t want someone to interrupt you during your shadow work sessions.
You may be releasing some painful emotions when your mom walks in and asks if you’d like a muffin, ruining your entire shadow work session.
Make sure you tell people you live with that you’re busy, put your phone on mute and remove any distractions.
#2. Meditate and relax
If you have a hard time silencing your mind or you just had a rough day, meditate a little bit before starting on the shadow work.
#3. Accept whatever comes up
Unconditionally accept all parts of you which could potentially show up.
Embrace whatever surfaces, then work on it and release it.
You have been suppressed your entire life, so now, is the time to express, accept and release any painful emotion that could arise.
#4. Discover your triggers and patterns
As you start answering those prompts truthfully, a lot will be revealed about your life and relationships.
Make sure you understand what triggers you emotionally and which are the patterns that you repeat in all of your relationships.
If you don’t see any, in the beginning, keep looking, because trust me, everyone has triggers and negative behavioral patterns.
#5. Observe those triggers and patterns in day-to-day life
Observing your triggers and patterns is a huge step towards living a happy and fulfilling life because until now they were leading your life from the shadow.
You were triggered by the same things over and over again and repeated the same patterns that didn’t bring much satisfaction, without being aware of it.
Or, as I say it, you were living your life “in the dark”.
As soon as you start doing shadow work, pay attention to how these patterns and triggers influence your choices, reactions, and ultimately, the quality of your life.
How Will You Feel Using Shadow Work Prompts As a Beginner?
The answer to this question is a little bit more complex, as every person can feel different when starting shadow work.
However, I do think it’s common for people to feel a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning.
After all, when you start understanding your shadow, you have to confront certain aspects of yourself which can undesirable, nasty, or vulnerable.
This can feel very uncomfortable and challenging until you get used to it.
But after a while of doing shadow work, you will start feeling more and more relieved and centered.
This will be because you will make peace will all the reprimanded, unwanted aspects of yourself, and will learn to accept yourself unconditionally.
Shadow work will help understand that all your negative traits and dark aspects are an effect of all the pain and trauma that you have been through in your life (or other lives, if you believe in reincarnation).
Thus, you will learn to have compassion for yourself, and with compassion, to love all the pieces and aspects of yourself which you rejected before.
Compassion will help you see that there is nothing unlovable about you, that you’re not a bad or “broken” person.
Moreover, with shadow work, you have the opportunity of healing and releasing the trauma and pain that allow you to be triggered by certain things or to follow dysfunctional behavioral patterns.
Long-term-wise, shadow work will make you feel empowered and self-confident.
It will also help you love yourself, give up on toxic patterns, reach inner peace, and ultimately, to transform your life for the better.
If you are a beginner in using shadow work prompts, or just discovered the power of shadow work, I wish you the best of luck, feel free to ask any question you may have in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer and to guide you on your amazing path of healing!