What Is Shadow Work Journaling & How To Start With Prompts

Work on your mental health without spending any money.

While mental health services and resources should be available to everyone free of charge, this usually isn’t the case. And if you don’t have health insurance or your therapist is out of network, seeing them weekly can quickly add up. So what should you do if you want to work on yourself while trying to save money?

Allow us to introduce shadow work. This new trend is taking over social media (especially TikTok), and we’re here to lay out just exactly how to get started. Shadow work might seem intimidating at first, but your unconscious and mental health will thank you for it.

What is shadow work?

Shadow work is trying to improve your unconscious mind in order to uncover parts of yourself that are repressed or hidden. This might be various trauma or aspects of your personality that you might not want others to know about, consciously or otherwise.

While anyone can do shadow work, if you’re trying to work through heavy trauma, please consult a licensed therapist or mental health professional to help.

Carl Jung and the shadow self

Famed psychologist Carl Jung was the first proponent of the idea of everyone having a “shadow self.” Jung believed that every person has a part of their personality that they find undesirable. Therefore, the person tries to hide that aspect of their self from everyone, maybe even themselves.

Jung’s psychological goal was to assimilate the shadow self with the conscious self to create a complete personality, shadow included. In more recent years, this practice has had more spiritual connections.

How to start shadow work journaling

You can start shadow work on your own or with the help of a therapist. If you decide to explore your shadow self on your own, here are a few tips on getting started with shadow work:

  • Practice recognizing your inner shadow and when it manifests
  • Don’t be afraid to explore your childhood
  • Avoid berating your shadow self
  • Meditate to learn your specific triggers
  • Use your shadow journal daily
  • Express your shadow in artistic or creative ways
  • Start a dialogue with your shadow self

Once you start working on your shadow, you can write about various prompts to help you express your shadow self in genuine ways (more on that in a bit).

Best shadow work journals and apps

If you’re looking for a journal that has its own prompts already laid out, here are the best four shadow work journals that were written by professionals:

As far as apps go, there really aren’t any. Most proponents of shadow work agree that spending less time with technology is probably the best option when it comes to working on your unconscious. We recommend putting pen to paper when it comes to shadow work, rather that doing it from your phone.

Shadow work questions to ask yourself

Are you not sure about starting shadow work? Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re ready to being working on your shadow self or not:

  • Do you find it difficult to acknowledge the less desirable parts of your personality?
  • Have you experienced any trauma that you have yet to work through?
  • Are you uncomfortable with the idea of people knowing about your “hidden self”?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be a good idea to start shadow work. Attempting to reconcile these parts of your personality will help improve your self-worth and overall mental health.

15 prompts for shadow work beginners

Now that you’ve decided to start your shadow work, you might want a little inspiration to get started. Here are 15 prompts that will begin engaging your shadow self with your conscious self:

  1. What frightens you the most? How could you safely expose yourself to that fear?
  2. What makes you more judgmental towards others?
  3. What memories are you ashamed of?
  4. Who do you envy? Why?
  5. What are a few lies you’ve previously told yourself?
  6. What makes you self-conscious?
  7. What makes you feel unsafe?
  8. Which person has let you down the most?
  9. Which relationships in your life no longer serve you?
  10. What emotions bring out your worst personality traits?
  11. How do you self-sabotage?
  12. What do you wish people understood about you?
  13. What are your parents’ worst traits?
  14. Who do you currently have a grudge against? How can you start to let that go?
  15. What is your worst childhood memory?

Books about shadow work

Are you looking for a more comprehensive study of what shadow work is? More information is always beneficial, so be sure to pick up a few of these books to dive deeper into the psychology behind shadow work and the shadow self:

Why is mental health important for students?

Mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, especially the lives of students. Mental health can affect your education, social wellbeing, emotional intelligence, and even physical health.

By not dealing with mental health, each of these spheres of your life suffers. By giving the proper care and attention to your mental health, your overall health improves along with it. Plus, positive health also reduces anxiety and stress, which is always a good thing.

When is men’s mental health awareness month?

Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month takes place every year in June. The goal is to encourage men of all ages to be proactive about their mental health through healthy lifestyles choices.

For more information, check out Mental Health America.

If you’re looking to take charge of your physical health along with your mental health, be sure to look through our sex ed resources.