Are there any traits of your personality that you absolutely detest? Did you ever overreact to a certain situation without knowing why? Do you want to work on those negative traits and try to change them, but you’re not sure where to start? Then this is the perfect article for you! Through shadow work, you will be able to identify those traits of your personality you dislike the most and slowly remove them from your life by understanding their origin and what triggers them.
Shadow work meaning and importance
So, what is shadow work? Before defining shadow work, we need to know the meaning of ‘shadow’. This term was coined by the famous psychologist, Carl Jung, and refers to the part of our personality which we dislike the most and tend to hide from others. Shadow work refers to a list of exercises you can implement in your everyday life, to face your shadow and to learn how to better deal with those traits of your personality you detest.
By practising shadow work you will be able to improve those traits and become a better version of yourself. I’m sure you now have tons of shadow work questions such as: How do I practice shadow work? What do I need to get started? And, how do I find the time to practice shadow work every day? Don’t worry, we will cover all these points!
How to do shadow work
All you need to start shadow work is a nice journal and a pen. Not too complicated, right? Keeping a shadow work journal is among the best ways to practice shadow work. If writing is not for you, you can simply reflect on a set of questions or discuss them with a friend. However, make sure to pick up the right person as some of the questions are particularly personal and you may not want to share this type of information with someone unless you’re one hundred percent comfortable in his or her presence.
Shadow work pushes you to reflect on your shadow self, by asking yourself questions related to your personality, your childhood and your current and old relationships with lovers, relatives and friends.
How to turn shadow work into a daily habit.
Like everything else, implementing shadow work into your daily life won’t be easy. There will be days in which you won’t find the time or the energy to deal with it, however, the key is consistency. Skipping a day or two of practice won’t destroy all your previous work. However, it’s important to try to turn shadow work into a daily habit to start seeing results from this practice. Start small: spend ten minutes every day writing or reflecting on a certain topic. The more you will do it, the more you will enjoy it. After a while, you will find yourself spending plenty of time writing on your shadow work journal!
To turn it into a daily habit, make sure to set aside time every day, whether in the morning or the afternoon, to dedicate some time to it. For instance, write every day as soon as you wake up, or just before going to sleep. Picking up a certain time during the day to dedicate yourself to shadow work will most likely turn this practice into a habit.
To make the experience enjoyable, remember that no one will read what you’re writing. With this, I mean that no one cares if you make grammar or spelling mistakes and that no one is going to judge your calligraphy either. Simply let your thoughts flow and enjoy the journey! If you find yourself stuck, not knowing what to write, simply write it down: ‘today, I don’t know what to write about.’ Even though it may be strange at the beginning, I can assure you that just by writing this simple phrase in your shadow work journal you will get into the flow and probably come up with something more to say. For instance, why don’t you have anything to say today?
Now it’s time to start! Below you will find a list of fifty shadow work prompts to inspire you.
Fifty shadow work journal prompts to help you achieve your true potential
- Make a list of the traits of your personality you dislike the most. Just write a simple list. Now it’s not the moment to reflect on it. Read it again and let a day pass.
- Start evaluating your list. How does it make you feel? Do you think there are too many negative traits or is this a reasonable amount?
- If you would meet someone with the same negative traits, do you think you would judge him-her in the same way you judge yourself? Do you think you would be more or less judgemental? Why?
- What’s the trait you hate the most? Why? How does this make you feel?
- Do you know any other people with this same personality trait? How do you cope with this?
- Make a list of ways to get rid of this trait. For instance, try to avoid situations that trigger this or come up with solutions to the problem. Remember that only by stepping out of your comfort zone you will be able to achieve results.
- Do the same for all of the other negative traits you wrote on the list. Take the time to do so. One day won’t be enough. You need time to reflect and ponder each one of them.
- Make a list of general traits you don’t like. Do you have any of them? Most of them? None of them?
- Compliment yourself for not having some of the negative traits you mentioned above.
- Make a list of things you love about yourself and try to be grateful for them.
- How do other people describe you? Ask some of your friends what are the best and worst traits of your personality. Are they similar to the list you wrote in point one? Are there more or fewer traits? Are there some unexpected ones?
- Do you tend to give a lot of value to other people’s opinions?
- What’s the worst thing you have done in your life? Reflect on this experience and try to empathize with your past self. What are the causes that brought you to do it?
- Concerning point 13, write a letter to your past self pretending that you will read it a few days after committing the act. Explain your current considerations and reflections on the topic and try to show forgiveness and understanding.
- Let’s start talking about your childhood. What were your worst traits as a child? Did you tend to make a scene for every little thing or were you shy and reserved?
- Do you think some traits of your personality as a child have persisted through time?
- Do you think that if your child version would meet you nowadays, she-he would be proud of the person you became?
- What can you learn from your past as a child? Did you have a happy childhood? How do you think this influences you in your daily life?
- Did you have any traumatic experiences as a child?
- Briefly describe your parents’ personality. What are their worst traits and their best ones?
- How did their traits affect your childhood?
- Do you believe those traits were perpetuated through your personality? Or did you develop some negative traits to cope with some other aspects of your parents’ personality?
- Do the same sort of work with all your childhood role models, such as your babysitter, your grandparents or even your t.v. idol. Make sure to also include the positive traits. How did they positively affect your personality?
- Write a letter to your 10-year-old self. Describe your life and try to be positive, you don’t want to upset him-her! Give some suggestions on how to deal with problems he-she will face and some lessons you have learnt in your life. Show your achievements and bring to light the best part of your life.
- Are there any friendships in your life you decided to put an end to?
- If yes, why did you end them? How was that particular person negatively affecting your life? How did that person make you feel?
- Do you still feel that way sometimes? Who are the people or what are the causes provoking this reaction?
- Are there still toxic people in your life? Can you find a way to avoid them? If not, is there a way you can limit the power they have on your mood? Is it an option to discuss with them how their actions make you feel?
- Write a list of your friends’ negative traits. You can also choose a relative, a colleague or whoever you like for as long as you spend a lot of time with him-her. How are those traits affecting your everyday life? Do you share any of these?
- Are there great friendships in your life? How do these people make you feel? Why do you like spending time with them?
- Are there past love relationships you decided to put an end to?
- Why did you do so? Why was the relationship no longer bringing you joy? How did this relationship make you feel? Do you still experience those feelings sometimes?
- Are there any personality traits you developed in response to this negative relationship? Are you still using them as a defence mechanism? Why? Is it healthy for you?
- Is your partner the only one who can be blamed for the end of the relationship? Or do you also have faults? If yes, did you work on those and are you actively trying to be a better partner?
- Has a partner ever ended a relationship when you weren’t ready? How did this make you feel? If you could write a letter to your past self the same day of the breakup, what would you write?
- Do you have recurrent dreams? Do you think they have a particular meaning?
- Do you frequently dream about a particular person, such as a past lover or an ex-friend? What do you think this means?
- Are there people you have high esteem for? What are your favourite traits of their personality? How can you implement those in your life?
- What frightens you the most? Why do you think you are so scared of this?
- Observe those fears from the outside, are they so objectively scary? Did these fears ever prevent you from achieving your goals? How can you better cope with these fears?
- Do you have memories of shame? When do you usually feel shame? Why is it so? Are there valid reasons to feel this way?
- Do you often self sabotage yourself? Why is it so? What prevents you from achieving your dreams?
- Do you have any regrets? Is there something you can do about it now? What do you have to do to avoid regrets in your future life?
- Do you ever lie to yourself? What is the most frequent lie you tell yourself? Why do you do so?
- When was the last time you overreacted to something? Why do you think that happened? What triggered this reaction?
- Make a list of things that trigger you and become aware of their presence. By knowing them, you will be more ready to face them next time.
- What gives you purpose in life? Are you spending enough time doing this? If not, why? How can you find ways of improving this?
- Make a list of traits you will like to acquire such as generosity, patience and understanding. How can you implement those in your daily life?
- Can you say you’re proud of yourself? If not, why?
- Try your best to find reasons to be proud of yourself for being the person you are.