Shadow Work Questions to Ask Yourself: 26 Prompts for Beginners

Personal Growth

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Unfortunately, most of us have parts of our personalities that we “push down” and avoid showing to others. These traits, often repressed for fear of rejection, make up your “shadow self”. The practice of shadow work can help you acknowledge your shadow self, forgive her, and develop increased self-awareness and self compassion.

There are many ways to practice shadow work, but one of the easiest to get started for beginners is by using shadow work journal prompts. These 26 shadow work questions help you get started in your journey to better self awareness through shadow work.

Before we get into the questions, I’ll cover a few basics of shadow work for beginners. If you would rather, feel free to skip straight to the prompts.

What is Shadow Work?

Shadow work is a personal-growth practice based in identifying and accepting your shadow self. Your shadow self is comprised of all of the traits you have that you tend to conceal from the personality you project into the world.

Your shadow self is often formed from adverse childhood experiences, where you may have felt unloveable or rejected. You may not be able to place what formed your shadow right away, but introspection & shadow work prompts can help with this.

Shadow traits are typically ones that are seen as negative— things like envy, judgement, and stubbornness. These traits can manifest in really ugly ways, even without you acknowledging you have them.

But with shadow work, the goal is not to further repress these traits but to acknowledge them, forgive yourself for their manifestations, and experience true growth. In doing so, you’ll build a more compassionate relationship with yourself and others.

If you’re interested in learning more about shadow work before journaling, I have a whole post on what shadow work is, and some different ways you can get started.

Why Should I do Shadow Work?

Even though it can be scary to confront the shadow parts of ourselves, it’s much worse to further suppress these parts of ourselves.

In doing so, you’ll allow your toxic traits to grow and manifest is ways you may not even notice. Your shadow self can take hold of your life, causing irritability, sadness, and even depression and anxiety.

Simply put— your relationship with yourself and others will suffer if you fail to examine your shadow.

Shadow work allows you to take back control by understanding yourself more holistically. You’ll develop a more compassionate relationship with yourself that will allow you to reach levels of personal growth once inhibited by your shadow.

Is Shadow Work Spiritual?

Shadow work actually has it’s roots in psychology rather than spirituality. Shadow work was first coined and studied by Carl Jung. Jung says that until you are able to examine your unconscious shadow side, you can release the control it has over your life.

To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.


Carl Jung

That said, shadow work can certainly be complimentary to spirituality. Think of the concept of your higher self, for instance. If you are a spiritual person, you may rely on your higher self to help you acknowledge and forgive your shadows. In fact, shadow work is essential to becoming your higher self.

Is Shadow Work Dangerous?

While shadow work can be an uncomfortable and emotional process, it is not dangerous. What’s actually more dangerous is to let your shadow side have a pervasive negative impact on your life when left unexamined.

If you are worried about starting the process of shadow work, you can always do so alongside the help of a therapist.

How Do I Get Started with Shadow Work?

There are plenty of different methods of shadow work you can use to get started! One of the most practical and accessible methods for beginners is through journaling. Journaling for shadow work requires you to take time for self- examination and put your thoughts on paper.

26 Shadow Work Questions & Prompts for Beginners

  1. What personality traits in others do you consider pet peeves?
  2. When was a time in your life you opened up to someone and felt rejected?
  3. What was a time I felt unexpectedly triggered by another actions?
  4. What was I like as a child?
  5. What trait in others do you wish you had?
  6. What are your parent’s values? How do your own values differ?
  7. What aspects of your self do you wish to improve?
  8. What negative emotions do you avoid? Why?
  9. What would happen if you let yourself feel these negative emotions?
  10. Have you ever felt embarrassed of who you are? What made you feel that way?
  11. What traits do your parents have that you hope you don’t?
  12. What traits do you have that are similar to your parents?
  13. What about yourself don’t you like? Why not?
  14. When is the last time you forgave yourself?
  15. What’s the worst way someone could describe you (what hurts the most)
  16. Write a letter to your past self.
  17. When’s the last time you were upset at someone close to you’s actions? Why did you get upset? Was your reaction warranted?
  18. What image of yourself are you trying to project to others?
  19. How do you extend compassion to and forgive others? What would it look like to extend the same compassion to yourself?
  20. How could you be more patient with yourself?
  21. What’s one thing you’re afraid of doing? Why?
  22. When is a time you felt rejected? What other feelings arose?
  23. What is a positive outcome of a negative emotion you’ve experienced?
  24. After you’ve identified your shadow traits. Choose a trait, and write a letter to yourself accepting that trait.
  25. Write a self acceptance affirmation.
  26. Think of a positive trait you have. What is the opposite of that trait? How might you be repressing it in your life?

Other Shadow Work Resources

If you’re looking for more on how to get started doing shadow work, you’re in luck! I have some additional resources to check out for you to get started with shadow work:

Get The Most Out of These Shadow Work Prompts

Shadow work is an incredibly introspective practice. While these shadow work prompts are meant to be used with a journal, the real work is internal.

Take some time to think about each of your answers to these prompts. Even better, practice mindfulness and self-observation over a period of time. You’ll observe things you may not know about yourself that helps answer these questions.

Allow your journal to be a safe space to let thoughts flow without judgement. Don’t rush yourself, or put too much pressure on what you’re writing.

Over time, revisit these prompts and your previous answers. You may be surprised how much shadow work progress you’re able to make through the simple activity of journaling.

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