It is no secret that many people repress certain parts of themselves around others. It can be a negative trait, certain tastes and opinions, or even an entire personality that they think their family and friends would reject. This hidden side is called the shadow self, and you can access and accept it through practices known as shadow work.
What is shadow work? Can it really help you learn to love all parts of yourself? And what are the best shadow work prompts you can try out? Read on to find out!
What Is Shadow Work?
In its essence, shadow work is a process focused on personal growth. Its main goal is to help you identify and accept your shadow self. As already mentioned, your shadow self consists of all the traits you suppress around others to avoid their judgment and scrutiny.
For many people, the characteristics that get repressed the most are envy, stubbornness, possessiveness, and so on. However, some also may feel the need to hide traits that aren’t inherently negative if they think that people wouldn’t accept them. These characteristics include sensitivity, ambition, pride, etc.
Why Should You Do Shadow Work?
Facing parts of yourself that you think aren’t acceptable is a scary prospect. But as frightening as it may be, it is still not as bad as suppressing those traits, especially in the long run. Because if there are parts of your personality that you’re ignoring, you can never truly be yourself.
Moreover, you can never really repress who you are. No matter what you do, the negative sides will always manifest somewhere else. For example, by ignoring your shadow self, you can allow it to emerge in the form of irritability, low self-esteem, and fear of interaction. If left untreated for too long, you can even develop serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, shadow work can help you.
Shadow work lets you regain control of your life and personality once again. In addition, it allows you to understand the real you, flaws and virtues alike. Only then can you expect others to understand and fully appreciate you.
Put simply, you may need shadow work in order to form lasting and meaningful relationships, both with yourself and with the people around you. Once you are able to achieve that, you will become more confident, compassionate, tolerant, and genuine.
Where to Start With Shadow Work
Here are some general steps you can take if you want to begin working on spotting and accepting your shadow.
1. Do You Want to Do It Alone?
First, you should decide whether you want to do shadow work alone or with the help of a professional. This decision depends solely on your preferences. If you want someone to guide you through this process of self-healing, contacting a therapist is the way to go. However, if you’d rather set your own pace and figure out everything on your own, that is just as good a choice. Each option has its advantages.
For example, a therapist can help you see the negative patterns and traits that you might not even be aware of. On the other hand, working alone can help you become fully independent as you learn to embrace yourself.
If you are unsure about which option to go for, you can try both. Shadow work can only be successful if you are comfortable as you practice, so take your time and see what suits you best.
2. Write Things Down
If you are a beginner, it is wise to incorporate journaling into your shadow work. Writing down your habits and describing yourself is the perfect way to identify your shadow. It is a great tool for self-examination, and it can help you understand yourself better.
The great thing about journaling is its simplicity and accessibility. All you need is a notebook or even just a piece of paper, and you are good to go. Besides, it isn’t something that takes too much of your time. Even a few minutes of journaling every day can make a difference.
As you start writing, it is important not to censor yourself in any way. If the facts you are revealing are making you uncomfortable, try to push through them anyway. After all, your shadow self is the sum of all the traits you aren’t particularly proud of. Describing them is bound to make you doubt the entire process.
While journaling, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t sure what exactly to jot down. No one can expect you to know everything immediately. So, where should you start?
Well, there are countless shadow work prompts that you can try out. You can find the best and most successful ones below. Write them down, analyze your answers, and you’ll get closer to uncovering and embracing your shadow.
The Best Shadow Work Prompts for Journaling
1. What are the personality traits you dislike most in other people?
2. What were you like as a child, and how does your description compare to who you are today?
3. Think of a time when you were triggered by someone’s words or actions without any obvious reasons and describe it.
4. Write about a situation where you opened up to someone and trusted them, only to be rejected.
5. What are some personality traits you wish you possessed?
6. What emotions do you try to repress? And why do you avoid them?
7. Are there any aspects of yourself that you wish to improve?
8. How are you similar to your parents?
9. Are there any traits that you recognize in your parents that you never want to have yourself?
10. If someone was to describe you in the most hurtful manner, what would they say?
11. Write a letter to your past self. What has changed? How do you feel about what you did and who you were at the time? Also, what would you want to share about your future?
12. Are you empathetic? How do you usually show compassion to others?
13. Come up with a list of your characteristics that you are proud of.
14. Write down a list of fears. Then, try to identify what triggers them.
15. Are you a patient person? Do you extend the same patience to yourself as you do to others?
16. Try to compose a self-acceptance letter.
17. Think of the last time when someone’s actions upset you. Why were you upset, and was your reaction warranted?
18. When was the last time you forgave yourself for something you did or said?
19. What are your core values in life?
20. Have you ever felt embarrassed of a trait you have? Why did you feel that way?