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Shadow Work Journaling Prompts

To learn what Shadow Work is and why it is important to do, first read our blog post: Shadow Work

Also check out our post that lists of the crystals that help the most when you are doing Shadow Work:

Shadow work can feel like a bit of a vague term when you’re a beginner and sometimes knowing where to even begin in your journey can feel like an impossible task.

This is where the shadow work journal prompts come in.

Choosing one journal prompt at a time not only makes the process a little more straightforward, it also makes it much less overwhelming and easier to process.

These journal prompts are designed to trigger emotions, memories and experiences – often programmed from childhood – that still unconsciously or consciously affect you to this day. The prompts will then encourage you to expand on this feeling, thought or story so that you can further understand where it originates, how its manifested in potentially toxic traits today, and therefore how to understand your thoughts, actions, and boundaries going forward.

The listed prompts below are for whatever area of life your struggling in, feel free to read each one and find the ones that resonate with you. For these prompts, questions each one on: who, what, where, when, and why. When your going into reflections make sure you are fully diving into and questioning each thing. To then come to a conclusion you need all of your questions answered.

Shadow Work Prompts:

Prompts for Beginners

  • How do you believe people see you? How would they describe you to someone else? How does that make you feel?

  • What are the worst traits someone can have, according to you? When did you demonstrate these traits?

  • What tends to make you judgmental toward others?

  • What emotions typically bring out the worst in you, and why do you think this happens?

  • Who do you currently have a grudge against? Why do you think you aren’t letting it go?

  •  Describe a trait you see in other people that you wish you had yourself. Why do you not have this trait?

  •  At what moments in your life have you been the hardest on yourself? Why?

  •  Are there negative emotions you try to avoid? Why?

  •  What kind of people do you attract around you?

  • Where were you, and what were you doing the last time you felt truly at peace?

  • When you feel emotional pain due to past trauma, where in the body do you feel it’s stored?

  • Are you more prone to fighting, flying, or freezing? Why do you think this might be?

  • What negative emotions are you actually quite comfortable sitting with? Why might this be?

  • What does the term “shadow work” mean to you?

  • What are you currently resisting?

  • What are the areas of your life that need improvement or exploration?

  • What emotion do you frequently feel but rarely explore?

Prompts for Self-Love

  • What do you wish you could forgive yourself for? What makes it hard?

  • If you fully accepted yourself for who you are, what kinds of things could you stop doing today?

  • What do you believe is true about you? What is not true?

  • If you were to talk to yourself as if you were a child, what would change about the words you would use? Are they kind? Why or why not?

  • What has hurt you the most from your past? What do you wish you had now to heal from that pain?

  • What’s something you always wished you could do but haven’t done because you’re afraid?

  • How do you show love to others? Do you show yourself the same type of love? Why or why not?

  • Recall a situation that made you feel loved and/or appreciated. How can you implement those things into your daily life?

  • What is something that if other people found out about you would have a negative impact, make you feel guilt or shame? 

  • In your personal experiences, have you sacrificed who you were for somebody else?

  • When was the last time you truly gave yourself grace and forgave yourself for a mistake? What was the mistake?

  • Write about a time you put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Why do you think you did this?

  • How do you set and enforce boundaries? What are your boundaries?

  • How do you feel when people overstep your boundaries?

  • What does “love” mean to you?

  • Have you ever found yourself manipulating others to protect yourself? When did this start and how does this make you feel?

  • What’s the biggest promise to yourself that you’ve broken?

  • What triggers you to neglect your self care?

  • What need do you deprive yourself of the most? How does it make you feel?

  • What invalidating words have you heard in the past when you stated a boundary or a concern? Do you treat yourself the same way now?

  • Write down how your caregivers used to treat you vs how you treat yourself now. Are there any similarities?

  • How would your authentic self behave vs your people - pleasing self?

  • What do you need in order to start believing in yourself?

  • What parts of yourself do you need to embrace and accept in order to move forward?

  • In what area of your life have you experienced significant emotional growth?

Prompts for Inner-Child Healing

  • What core memory from your childhood makes you angry?

  • What core memory from your childhood makes you feel shame?

  • What did you wish people understood about you growing up?

  • If you could go back to your elementary-school-aged self, what advice would you give?

  • What do you wish you could change about how you grew up?

  • What were you most insecure about growing up?

  • What’s something you rarely talk about that happened to you as a child?

  • What was your relationship with your parents like as a child? What’s it like now? How has it changed? How do you feel about this?

  • Where was your ‘safe space’ as a child? Did you have one? How does remembering it make you feel? How does your ‘safe space’ as a child translate into adulthood? If you didn’t have a safe space as a child how did that translate into adulthood?

  •  Write about a time that someone let you down as a child. Have you forgiven them now? Or do you carry that hurt with you?

  • What parts of your parents/caregivers do you see in yourself? When did this become apparent and how does it make you feel?

  • What was one way you used to self-soothe when you were growing up?

  • What early childhood experiences are still influencing your adult life?

Prompts for Healing

  • Write a letter to the person who’s hurt you the most in your life, and tell them everything you’d like to say. ( you do not have to send the letter, this practice is focused on healing the part of you that needs to get the words out. Not about how they would react to it )

  • What memories are you ashamed of?

  • How do you respond when someone is angry with you? What does their anger say about you?

  • What do you feel you must do to be worthy of love? Why?

  • What part of your personality or personhood do you find most challenging to accept? Why?

  • Do you trust yourself? Why or why not?

  • When was the last time you stood up for yourself? What were you defending and why?

  • What kind of things do you do to numb your feelings? What are you trying to avoid?

  • When you’re alone, what does your self-talk most commonly sound like? What kinds of things do you say to yourself, and why?

  • What’s one thing you wish you could change about your past?

  • What are your preconceptions about femininity? What do you think this is? Where do you think this came from?

  • What are your preconceptions about masculinity? What do you think this is? Where do you think this came from?

  • What is something you’ve always wanted to confront someone about, but didn’t? Why didn’t you confront them? How do you feel about that now?

  • Write about a massive life event that you truly feel you’ve moved on from. How do you think you managed to do this on this occasion?

  • What is your attachment style? How do you think this formed?

  • How do you feel about confrontation? Why do you think this is?

  • What triggers you? Can you identify your main triggers?

  • What would be your first impression of meeting your “shadow self” face-to-face?

  • What one thing do most people misperceive about you?

  • How do you deal with criticism?

  • What thoughts keep you awake at night?

  • What is the true source of your trauma?

  • What can you do to create a safe space for yourself to begin healing from your trauma?

  • What parts of yourself are you still denying or resisting?

  • What unhealthy coping mechanisms have been keeping you stuck in the past?

  • Think about your impulses when you’re under stress or feeling emotional. What are these impulses, and what might they tell you about your deeper needs or unresolved issues?

  • Think about a secret aspiration or goal you haven’t shared with anyone. Whats holding you back from pursuing or acknowledging it openly?

  • Are there methods of expression or processing that you find more helpful or therapeutic?

  • Think about how your body and emotions react when you’re reminded of trauma.

  • Consider a physical sensation you experience when feeling a strong emotion. What is the connection between this physical response and your emotional state?

  • Describe the dark side of your personality in vivid detail.

  • What destructive behaviors do you engage in? How do you feel before, during, and after? Do you have any insight into why you engage in these behaviors?

  • What kind of destructive thoughts and beliefs do I have that deter me from my desired outcomes

Prompts for Relationships

  • What fears are you holding onto that are preventing you from connecting more deeply with your partner?

  • How do you sabotage your relationships?

  • What emotions are you avoiding in your relationships?

  • What do you need to let go of in order to be more present in your relationships?

  • What are your expectations of your partner and how do they limit you both?

  • What triggers your fear of intimacy?

  • How can you accept your partners flaws and imperfections?

  • What do you need to stop expecting from your partner?

  • What patterns from your past relationships are you bringing into your current one?

  • What can you do to be more emotionally available to your partner?

  • How can you communicate your feelings without being defensive or blaming?

  • What can you do to foster a healthy give and take in the relationship?

  • How can you show more appreciation and gratitude to your partner?

  • Think about how you typically react during conflicts in your relationships. What might these reactions reveal about your deeper fears or needs?

  • What patterns do you see in how your romantic relationships have begun, developed, or ended?

  • Think about the emotions that surface most frequently in your relationship. What do these emotions indicate about your relationship expectations, desires, or insecurities?

Prompts for Letting Go

  • What in your life do you need to let go of in order to move forward?

  • What beliefs do you need to let go of that are holding you back?

  • What emotions do you need to let go of to be free?

  • What relationships do you need to let go of in order to be healthy?

  • What patterns do you need to let go of to make space for new possibilities?

  • What fears do you need to let go to feel empowered?

  • What ( past or future ) mental stories ( thoughts and beliefs ) do you need to let go of to be more present?

  • What judgements do you need to let go of to be compassionate?

  • What expectations do you need to let go of to be more content?

  • What resentments do you need to let go of in order to be at peace?

  • What doubts do you need to let go of to trust yourself?

  • What unhealthy attachments do you need to let go of to be independent?

Prompts for the Workplace and Career

  • In what situations do you find yourself feeling envious of your colleagues?

  • Think about the career aspirations you had in the past that you’ve since abandoned or neglected. Why did you move away from these goals, and how do you feel about that now?

  • How do you react to authority figures in your workplace? Do these reactions mirror any dynamics from your past or personal life, and what can they teach you about how you view power and control?

  • What is your greatest fear regarding your career, and how does this fear influence your decision - making and actions at work?

  • How do you struggle with balancing your personal and professional life? Consider the guilt or internal conflicts that arise when prioritizing one over the other?

  • What parts of yourself do you hide or suppress in your professional life? Why do you feel the need to conceal these aspects?

  • Identify the aspects of your job or career you are most dissatisfied with but often dismiss or ignore. And why?

  • How do you respond to criticism or negative feedback in your job?

  • Have you ever felt jealous of a colleague’s promotion or success?

  • Do you experience feelings of imposter syndrome in your workplace?

  • How do you feel about authority figures and coworkers as an adult?

Prompts for Dreams

  • Do you have any recurring dreams? What elements are repetitive, and what might they symbolize in your waking life?

  • Reflect on a recent dream that had a strong emotional impact on you. What emotions did you feel in the dream, and how do they relate to your current life situations?

  • Consider a recent nightmare. What fears or anxieties could they be reflecting?

  • Think about a significant character in your dream. What might this character represent about your traits or aspects you’re unaware of?

  • Do you ever dream about a particular desire or goal? How does this dream connect to your unfulfilled desires or aspirations in real life?

  • Consider a dream that felt like it was offering guidance or a message. What was the message, and how might it apply to your life decisions or challenges?

  • Reflect on a dream where you or something else was undergoing a transformation. What does this transformation symbolize about your personal growth or changes?

  • Consider a dream that took you back to your past, childhood, or a significant event. How does revisiting this past event in your dream affect your present self?

Prompts for Identity

  • List your roles in life (e.g, parent, friend, worker). How do these roles align or conflict with your true self?

  • Reflect on your reactions to others. What do these reactions reveal about the parts of your identity you are less aware of or comfortable with?

  • Think about aspects of your identity that conflict with each other. How do you reconcile these differing parts of yourself?

  • How does your identity change in different relationships or social settings? Why do you think these changes occur, and how do they make you feel?

  • Consider a part of your identity that you feel you have lost or neglected over time. Why have you?

  • Think about a time when you experienced a crisis of identity. What triggered it, and how did you resolve it, if at all?

  • Reflect on aspects of your identity that you keep hidden from others. Why are you hiding them?

  • Consider how your core values align ( or don’t align ) with your current identity.

  • How has your self - identity evolved over the years?

  • How do you present yourself on social media, and how does this differ from your offline self? What does this discrepancy say about your identity?


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