Ah, so you’re ready for some shadow work journal prompts.
Shadow work is not for the faint of heart, to say the least, but it is necessary to get onto a true path of enlightenment.
As you do your shadow work, it is helpful to keep a shadow work journal, but you must also be mindful that you don’t fall into a pit of your own sorrow.
So, how do you keep all of this in balance?
What Is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is the work no one wants to do.
And in the spiritual world it can feel very contradictory.
“Love and light!” We hear.
“Positive vibes only!” They tell us.
And indeed, Abraham Hicks will even say not to focus on the negative. Not to sit in your suffering.
Not to dwell in your darkness.
So the message may feel like it is saying to ignore your pain, your past, your trauma.
Which is, in a word, impossible.
One of my favorite kids’ movies is Smallfoot with Channing Tatum as an abominable snow man. In the beginning of the film, his character leads a song about how happy their frigid and freezing village is.
In that song, there’s a line about how no one questions the way things are run in the village, and how that’s a good thing.
“If there’s a question, causing you to go astray, just stuff it down inside until it goes away.” He sings, cheerfully.
It’s obviously tongue in cheek.
It never goes away.
You can stuff it down inside and it will be stored there.
The body keeps score.
The body remembers.
And so does your psyche.
As Jordan Peterson tells us, conflict avoided is conflict multiplied.
You have to acknowledge your pain, you must deal with your trauma, you must recognize your suffering.
Or you are not actually living a love and light positive vibes only life. You are merely pretending to.
And in the spiritual world, you cannot fake it til you make it.
You must deal with it to heal it.
So what I think Abraham Hicks is saying is not to ignore your pain but to focus on the good things in your life so you can deal with your pain.
“You are where you are,” they will say.
You must be in this moment. You must sit with yourself. You must acknowledge your current status, and even more importantly, accept it.
This is the Buddhist practice of Tathata. The suchness of life.
Acceptance is everything.
This is shadow work.
Acknowledging your pain, your negativity, your darkness.
How to Do Shadow Work
To do shadow work, your first step is to accept.
Without shame, with deep love, with compassion for yourself and forgiveness.
Sit with yourself in your darkness.
What is your darkness?
Your triggers show you.
Abraham Hicks calls them the bumps in the road.
When you get angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, shamed, hurt, hateful, irritated, annoyed.
Basically all negative emotions show you where you are in your darkness.
When you feel those negative emotions, get curious about them.
“What’s causing this?”
“What’s causing this disruption in my happiness?”
The bumps on the side of the highway of your journey through an enlightened, awakened life show you when you are out of alignment.
Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist, tells us that we are essentially fully conditioned to be who we are in the first seven years of our life.
We are, basically, in record mode for those first years, taking note of everything around us teaching us how to behave, how to respond, how to act, what is good and bad, who to be, etc.
For the rest of our lives, then, we are in playback mode.
95% of our days are lived in playback mode, with our subconscious driving us through life.
Only for 5% of our lives are we consciously living our lives.
And we cannot change that by much. We need to be able to go onto autopilot so that we can think, plan, create, and move forward.
So it is not about coming out of the subconscious. It is about healing it and recording new data.
So if those first 7 years were filled with trauma and pain, we likely have a lot of work to do to record new data.
We do this through acknowledging our pain, our trauma, and creating new habits for a healthy life.
Shadow work is where you will acknowledge your pain.
Shadow work journaling is where you sit with yourself and accept what is.
Journaling is a wonderful mental health and spiritual exercise because it allows you to tell your story.
The author Sylvia Plath once said “how do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
It’s a perfect summary of the power of the writing process.
And Peterson makes the point that writing allows us to think. It is a critical tool for critical thinking.
As we work to write out our ideas, our stories, our thoughts, we are able to work through them.
This is the point of journaling.
What is bothering you?
What is going well?
What is helping?
What is hurting?
Those questions and more will gently move you through your pain and out the other side.
If we were harmed in our early years, it will likely take a lifetime to heal, but we don’t have to identify as damaged.
We can identify as human.
As doing the crucial work of the human experience on our path to a joy filled life.
Shadow work journaling is not about sitting in the shadows. It is about clearing them out, shining light on them.
The Buddhists believe that every trigger we have, every shadow we discover, is an opportunity, a gift.
“Oh look, more opportunity for me to sit with myself and get to know myself better.”
Another opportunity to detach lovingly and witness myself.
When we can detach and witness ourselves, we can heal, we can experience more joy, we can surrender divine will.
We can allow life to live us instead of working so hard, and so pointlessly, to control it all.
25 Shadow Work Journal Prompts
I advice you to do your shadow work journaling at the end of the day, perhaps after dinner, but not right before bed.
You don’t want to go to sleep in shadows.
But you also don’t want to start your day in shadows.
So allow your day to pass, get your daily duties done, and then carve out some time at the end of your day to hash out your dramas.
As yourself things like:
Which triggers did I confront today?
Where was I triggered?
Why was I triggered?
Why was this so important to me?
How is this connected to my identity?
Where was my ego on full display?
What could I have done to calm my ego down?
How could I have shown up for myself without my ego?
How did I attract that triggering situation?
How is that trigger a gift for me?
What lesson can I learn from this trigger?
What thought is making me sad?
What thoughts are making me angry?
What beliefs do I hold that are holding me back from my true state of joy?
What identity do I maintain that keeps me angry, hard, cold, closed up?
How can I release that identity?
Who is my ideal role model?
How can I be more loving toward myself?
How can I be more loving toward others?
Did I care for myself in good, healthy ways today?
In what ways can I care for myself in good healthy ways tomorrow?
How can I cut the cord with those who do not make me feel good about myself?
Who do I need to let go of?
Who can I forgive? Myself?
What do I need to release?
Remember as you do your shadow work journaling to hash out the real stories inside of your head that tie you to these issues.
Take full responsibility for your triggers, for your negative actions and thoughts, for the beliefs that hold you back.
You already have everything you need inside of you for a full healing journey. You just have to know it and then do it.
After all, when we know better, we do better.
But you must cease seeing yourself as a victim and start seeing yourself as an empowered child of the Universe with total support and love behind you.
When you complete your shadow work journal, be sure to pivot to gratitude.
You always want to end your day with gratitude, so spend the last hours of your evening in a place of joy, even if you are simply content with the fact that you are safe, healthy, breathing, well fed, with a roof over your head and people who love you.
Dance in your yard barefoot, look up at the stars, experience awe.
You came here to have this human experience for a reason, and you had full faith in yourself to thrive, shadows and all.
You’ve got this.