Shadow work prompts are simple questions followed by prompt questions that help deep dive into an individual’s emotions, perceptions, and inner beliefs. These questions can also help an expert understand the dark thoughts within an individual’s mind.
The main objective of shadow work prompts is to understand an individual’s repressed feelings and emotions. The prompt questions help experts bring the concerned person’s thoughts and feelings from their subconscious to their conscious.
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What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is a significant part of the process of psychotherapy. It equips us to understand our subconscious as well as our unconscious minds. It also helps us understand certain facets of our personality that we are unaware of.
The main aim behind shadow work is to bring out our repressed thoughts and emotions in the open. We can avoid harmful behavior once we have these repressed feelings in our conscious memory.
An instance of harmful or self-sabotaging behavior includes stealing from people without needing to. This is also known as kleptomania.
How Do Shadow Work Prompts Help?
Shadow work prompts are usually used to help an individual heal. In the long run, this process helps people overcome their mental distress and live happily.
These questions help us understand ourselves better as individuals. They also help us enhance our self-awareness. One can use these questions to identify and understand their past traumas.
Most importantly, these prompts enable individuals to be more aware of their inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Awareness of such deep-seated thoughts helps us understand our behavior patterns and how we can rectify when wrong.
Shadow Work Prompts For Beginners
Here are some prompts that will help you start the process. While some of these prompts might feel slightly repetitive, there is a reason behind.
Repetition only ensures that the prompts can elicit your innermost feelings in your answers. All you must do is note down the responses to every prompt per instructions. What’s important to remember here is that all the responses will not strike you instantly.
So, you must take roughly two weeks to note down all the answers that come to your mind. You might also recall some responses while you are engaged in other daily chores. Hence, you must note down these tidbits and compile them in one place at the end of your day.
So, here are some shadow work prompts for beginners:
- Pen down a series of things that you wish to change in other people (For instance, “How I wish my sister would stop wearing my clothes”)
- Mention a list of your actions that make you feel guilty (For instance, I wish I had not cheated in the tenth standard examination”)
- Create a list of things about yourself that are bothersome to you (For instance, I wish I was taller than my mother”)
- Write down the number of ways in which you have hurt other people unintentionally (For instance, sometimes I am too blunt with people, and I know it hurts their feelings)
- Mention all the things that make you ashamed of yourself (For instance, I feel ashamed that I tend to cry when I am angry instead of screaming for venting”)
- Create a list of things that make you feel scared or paranoid (For instance, I am scared at the thought of my mother dying)
- Mention all those things that you are fearful of mentioning to others (For instance, I am scared to tell people how unorganized I am at home)
- Create a list of things that infuriate you (For instance, I hate it when other people lie to me)
- Mention all those things that you would want other people to change about themselves (For instance, I wish I could reduce my sister’s anger)
- Pen down how you have hurt someone’s feelings (For instance, I once stole my sister’s favorite sandwich and ate it for lunch)
So, these are some prompts that you could answer to begin with. Once you have taken the aforementioned two weeks’ time, analyze your answers individually.
Try to read every answer and think about why certain things bother you. Make an in-depth analysis and understanding of your responses will enable you to increase your self-awareness. Once we understand ourselves better, we will have much higher control of our behavior across situations.
Shadow Work Prompts For Healing
Here are some shadow work prompts for healing:
- Describe the way you vandalize or sabotage situations or circumstances in your life. What actions would you like to take to do things differently instead of self-sabotaging?
- Describe the last time you defended yourself. What did you stand up for and why?
- What makes you feel undeserving of love and belongingness? Where does this feeling originate from?
- Do you believe you trust in yourself? If yes, then why? If not, then why?
- How do you respond to someone’s anger? How do you interpret their anger?
- According to you, what actions should you take to be deserving of love? Why do you think so?
- Describe the actions you take to dissipate your feelings. What do you feel you are trying to ignore or avoid in life?
- Mention the facets of your personality that you find most difficult to accept. Why is it so?
- Mention the last time you turned out incorrect about something. What did you do to set things right? How did you feel about the whole situation?
Shadow work journal prompts
The word prompts have been trending ever since ChatGPT came into the picture. While tech advancements sure do make our lives easier, they also take us away from the human touch. Sometimes, all we need to do is take out a journal and write down difficult questions we need answers for.
If you have completed the shadow work prompts for beginners, you can now move onto journal prompts for shadow work. It is a diary that you maintain to ask yourself questions and write down answers to solve the puzzle of your life.
Journaling is one of the best ways of self-healing and introspection. When you add this to your daily or weekly routine, you promote mental wellbeing.
Here are some examples of Shadow work journal prompts that under different important categories:
If you are an introvert in the world of social media, it might keep you away from your full potential. To put yourself out there is the best possible way, you should ask yourself questions like:
- How do I feel about myself?
- How do I want people to see me?
- Why can people not understand me?
- How can I make people understand my self-worth?
- Do people feel the same about me the way I feel about myself?
2. Shadow suppression
There are times when we feel a certain way but we suppress the emotion within. We try to divert our minds by making it feel differently, but deep down we know we are faking it.
Suppressing urges can play with our mental health. It is difficult to face our fears, but avoiding it only makes us emotionally vulnerable. Shadow work journal prompts works best to solve such problems and make us face reality. Here are some ways to allow yourself to feel the way you should:
- Is there is a feeling of emptiness inside?
- How can I fight the feelings that make me feel worthless?
- How can I control my anger? What are the reasons that make me feel this way?
- Do I dislike a person or a group of people? Do their presence impact me mentally?
3. Somatic shadow
Somatic is anything related to the body. The shadow we create around our bodies is known as somatic shadow. There are times when we become conscious about how we look or feel. Our muscles feel tension when there are discussions that we do not find comfortable talking about.
Odd situations make us understand a little more about our how our body reacts to the brain. When we identify such discomforts, it helps us understand somatic shadow and rectify it. Here are shadow work prompts:
- What conversations make me uncomfortable?
- How does my body feel when I am angry?
- How does my body feel when I have burn out?
- Do I have a sinking feeling when I see my crush?
- What is the feeling of having butterflies in my stomach?
4. Emotions when unconscious
Out of all the shadow work prompts, this is the most interesting. Our unconscious minds are always at work, even sometimes during consciousness. Understand what the universe must tell you is important to go deeper and connect with your soul. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:
- Do I see the same dreams repeatedly?
- What are my dreams trying to tell me?
- Do I see images, signs, or symbols in my dreams?
- Are there patterns in my dreams?
- Did I just see something that I have seen before?
- Do my dreams have psychedelic experiences?
The Thought Behind the Prompts
Now that you know how to go through the process of self-healing with these prompts, it is important to understand what inspired it. Firstly, it is important to understand the self and how it functions.
The self can be looked at as an iceberg. What we usually do explicitly for everyone to see is the outer self. This is visible to one and all. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg or the self. Our innermost thoughts and feelings drive the most explicit or visible actions and behaviors.
Hence, understanding our inner selves helps us stay on top of our external or social responses to various situations and stimuli. Of course, these innermost thoughts lie in our subconscious, the massive iceberg hidden underneath the water.
This part is also known as the “shadow self.” Introduced by Carl Jung for the first time, shadow prompts are derived from his theory of the shadow self.
What Is the Shadow Self?
As described by Robert Bly, the long bag we carry behind us. This bag symbolizes everything our surroundings or the external world have shamed us for. For instance, it is shameful for women to be unmarried beyond 26″.
With time, we pile up more indicators of social conformity and non-conformity. Consequently, this bag only gets heavier. All these things represent our shadow self.
Since many of these things were picked up by us in childhood, it can often be difficult to keep them in our conscious memory. Hence, they gradually slide into our subconscious. Now, you will understand why two weeks is recommended to complete responding to your prompts.
How Does the Shadow Self Influence Our Behavior?
Now that you know about the shadow self, it is important to understand how it impacts our behavior.
While the items of conformity and non-conformity slide into our subconscious, they do not cease to exist. They are still a part of ourselves, our identity, and our personality. Hence, from time to time, they tend to reflect or appear through our behaviors.
This is how our shadow self affects our external personality, i.e., our unique ways of responding to stimuli or situations. Hence, we often witness ourselves reacting to situations most unexpectedly.
It is because our shadow influences our behavior in various situations in our life. It is our shadow that forms most of our likes and dislikes as well. For instance, our love or hatred for certain members of our lives is inspired entirely by our shadow selves.
So, now that you know everything about shadow work and the process, try it out and see the magic! Also, do not forget to read and analyze your responses carefully. If you implement the process meticulously, you can derive the best results from it. So, here is hoping that the process of shadow work helps you heal yourself.