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what is shadow journaling

7 Benefits of Shadow Journaling (and how to get started)

Are you looking to get into contact with your shadow self through shadow journaling?

Then step forth and enlighten yourself before you do any serious damage through negligence.

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What is Shadow Work?

This is a method by which you can attempt to uncover and/or observe painful and otherwise hidden parts of yourself so that they can see the light and allow you to live a more full and fulfilling life.

The phrase comes from the work of psychologist Carl Jung, who said that "shadow is that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors."

Thus, the shadow self comes to comprise both the experiences you have had personally as well as the beliefs and ideas that have been passed on to you from previous generations.

Contrary to what some might believe, shadow work prompts are not intended to bring about the revival of painful memories so that you can be victimized even further. Rather, the intention is that shadow work is used to negate the recurring cycle of negativity in your life that is otherwise hindering you in some way.

For some, digesting and processing shadow traits will be an inherent part of healthy personal growth and the development of strong and consistent mental health.

What Traits Can be Relieved through Shadow Work?

The trains that shadow work intends to bring into conscious awareness range enormously from subtle to glaringly clear, the latter to the point where they are already in plain view. Here are some examples so you have a better idea of what to look for and what precisely you are getting yourself into:

  • patterns of toxic relationships, such as those with lovers, friends, and even employers, both for you and for them.
  • various mental health concerns like anxiety and depression, though extending forth to just about every corner of the mental health spectrum, barring more extreme disorders which you should really be getting professional help for anyhow.
  • issues around sexuality and sensuality, a connection with the sensual self - the erotic self is, according to Audre Lorde, a resource of boundless power within ourselves and should be nurtured as such.
  • diseases, chronic pains, and other chronic psychosomatic illnesses (those that have as much to do with our psychology as their own physical ailments).
  • addiction to just about anything can be healthily explored in such a forum.
  • self-sabotage, too, which has much to do with the attitudes toward our inner child.
  • perfectionism, though helpful in many ways, can also rank among these negative traits and negative emotions, resolved within the confines of a shadow work journal.
  • greed, selfishness, and jealousy are interrelated classics among the canon of negative traits and can also be dealt with in such a forum.
  • fears and phobias of all kinds are often the focus of many shadow work journal prompts.
  • low self-worth and esteem can likewise be dealt with in your own shadow work when you practice shadow work against your own life, much like self-esteem journaling.
  • skin and digestive issues!
  • financial struggles and how to cope with them.
  • disconnection from self and life in general, etc.
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The Benefits of Shadow Work Journaling

So, it should come as no surprise that shadow work journaling can do you a whole bunch of good, much like future-self journaling:

  • increased self-awareness and centering within oneself through self-discovery of shadow selves.
  • a personal growth that can lead from a negative reaction to inner peace.
  • increased authenticity and sense of self.
  • your true traits are said to begin running on automatic without much forethought.
  • the insights with the shadow side can help lead to understanding and self-acceptance.
  • a relief of trauma and judgment of self that might even date back as far as childhood.
  • instilled with courage and freedom to be who you are.

Step 1: Diagnosis

Before proceeding forth on your journey, you need to get an idea of where you are at currently - especially do not try to tackle everything in one sitting.

Start with one issue that you are struggling with and try to connect the dots. Try working from these three prompts to begin with:

  • Where are you struggling the most?
  • If you had to guess, what are you being called to heal within yourself?
  • What patterns in your life keep showing up?

Step 2: Linking

Now you have it all laid out on the table, the next step is to link all these struggles and their various triggers with the emotional pattern in question.

Much as events and experiences in our lives have patterns, so do our emotions, in a very big way. Such emotions will likely be the link to the suppressed beliefs of perspectives that are causing us the most dysfunction.

Try using the following prompts to delve a little deeper:

  • How does this present struggle make you feel?
  • How do you feel when (a certain thing) happens?
  • If there is anger present, what emotions lie underneath?

Step 3: Connecting the Dots

In most cases, the emotions you just uncovered will tend to boil down to a few core emotions that you have felt over and over again over the years and that are rooted somewhere deep within your past.

The process of connecting these deep-seated emotions to an event or belief in the present can take a while. Commend yourself for being aware of this emotion in the first place, something many are content not to bother with.

Try exploring these prompts to delve even deeper:

  • Can you remember the last time you felt the emotion in question?
  • Comb through each year of your life and write down any events that triggered this emotion in you.
  • If this emotion is tied to a belief rather than an event, can you recall how and when you adopted this belief?
shadow journaling

Step 4: New Directions

Now you can begin to pave a new direction for yourself. Draw a line between this ill feeling that you have had to bear for so long and the way you would like to feel in the future.

Try these prompts to really clarify this new direction:

  • How do you want to feel most of the time?
  • How do you want to feel with regard to a specific area of your life that you are attempting to heal?
  • How would you be if you believed or felt this way? How would you treat yourself differently?
  • How can you be more patient with yourself as your practice this new way of being?
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Final Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to engage with your shadow self and better yourself in the future to come.

FAQs Shadow Journaling


Shadow journaling is a form of journaling that attempts to right the wrongs committed by the shadow self as defined by psychologist Carl Jung.


In the sense that it is work committed in a journal, yes. Though, where other journaling might be more concerned with generalities, this form of journaling is very much concerned with the adjustment of the shadow self as defined by psychologist Carl Jung.


In a journal, preferably. Though the concepts with which you will be dealing are cosmic in scale, you can do all of this work with a journal, a writing tool, and yourself.

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