Shadow Work Journal Prompts For Discovering Your Shadow

shadow work journal prompts

Use shadow work journal prompts to explore the inner workings of your mind.


Have you ever done something that shocked you and made you wonder why did I do that?

When you react inappropriately because you misjudged a situation. When you get triggered by certain events. When you have irrational fears. When you label people before you get to know them, when you feel insecure about yourself, or when you feel sad seemingly without a reason. All of those reactions and feelings come from your shadow. 

Whenever you don’t know why you did something or why you’re feeling a certain way you can be sure that is your shadow acting out. 

According to Jung, the creator of the shadow theory, the shadow represents all those parts of ourselves that we deny or hide because we consider them bad and unwanted. Your shadow is made up of traits that conflict with your public image, abandoned dreams and desires, suppressed emotions, past trauma, and limiting beliefs. 

Your shadow is being developed gradually from the moment you start to adapt to the people, culture, habits, and expectations around you. 

Carl Jung’s theory of a “shadow” stepped into popular culture and self-help literature as a pathway to self-discovery and personal growth. 

The therapeutic method he developed is called shadow integration. It helps you discover and acknowledge repressed parts of your personality so that you can feel whole and overcome recurring difficulties you face in life. 

Shadow integration involves:

  • reflection, 
  • identification, 
  • confrontation; 
  • acceptance

Through reflection, you discover patterns in your behavior and thoughts that are caused by your shadow. 

Through those patterns, you identify the specific shadow that’s been off your conscious radar. 

Then comes the hardest and most important part – confrontation. It’s named confrontation because you need to confront your own ego built around your shadow because the ego will try to deny the shadow. Confronting the ego involves a great deal of honesty, acceptance, love, and respect for yourself.  

Lastly, once you confront and fully acknowledge the presence of the shadow as a part of who you are, you can start accepting the shadow and yourself as a whole with all your unique traits and thus complete the shadow integration process. 

shadow work carl jung quote


If you’re dealing with a severe psychological trauma it’s always best to work with a professional therapist. But a lot of us just need a little nudge to start a meaningful and honest conversation with ourselves in order to grow as a person. 

Before you start with shadow work journal prompts read these tips.

Create a space of no judgment towards yourself or anyone else.

With calm detachment write every thought that comes up.

Notice any feelings or sensations in your body and let them come and go as waves, don’t try to control them or make them go away. You can also write those if you feel the need to.

Your ego will often try to deny a shadow by causing great resistance within you.

When you encounter a shadow that you’re having difficulties accepting, don’t force it, instead try to think of situations where it might influence your life. Keep it in your awareness and if you ever notice it in yourself say “I see you and I accept you, but I choose my thoughts and actions.”.

If your shadow causes a strong emotional reaction that you don’t know how to handle stop immediately. Do a quick grounding exercise like a 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. Try to face your shadow another time when you’ll be in a stronger mental state or find a Jungian therapist to help you work through it.

At the end of a prompt, when you discover a shadow, write a letter to yourself in “I” format in which you describe what you learned, write a raw and honest statement that you accept all those parts of yourself, that you love yourself and are worthy just as you are. 


Inner child

Asking your inner child what it needs can show you the limits you hold in your mind that are preventing you from being your true self.

Imagine you went back in time and now you’re a mentor to yourself as a child. 

What advice would you give to the child? 

Which lessons would you teach the child, in other words, which lessons do you wish you were taught as a child?

Take a moment to think about your answers. 

Do you still need to hear that advice, are you still learning those lessons? 

How do you think your life would be different if you learned those lessons as a child? How does that make you feel? 

Why do you think you needed someone to teach you those lessons? 

Maybe you weren’t ready to learn those lessons then. Can you think of why you might not have been ready to learn them in the past? Are you ready to learn them now? 

Write a letter in “I” style in which you state that you accept yourself as you are with all your shortcomings, you also accept all the emotions that come up. Describe how you love and appreciate all parts of your personality. Write that it’s ok to be you and that you are worthy just as you are.


Repetitive mistakes

Mistakes that you keep repeating are pointing to a belief you have about life that you’re holding on to but it’s away from your awareness. 

Which mistakes do you keep repeating time and again?

Why do you think you keep repeating those mistakes? 

What do you need to learn/understand/accept to stop repeating those same mistakes? 

Are you taking responsibility for them or are you making excuses? 

Describe one of your recent mistakes and how you can take responsibility for it with grace and dignity. 

Which destructive habits are you struggling to change? 

Write all the reasons why you deserve love and respect even when you make a mistake. 



Shame is a signal that there is something in you you’re not accepting. Every part of your personality that is not accepted becomes your shadow. 

Imagine meeting a person and, after spending some time talking about a shared interest, you believe you made a connection but they realize they don’t like you. How do you think they would describe you? 

Take a moment to consider what that description means.

What parts of your personality do you judge the most and try to hide from the world? 

What parts of your personality do you reject? 

In which situations do you feel shame? 

Which masks are you putting on for other people? Why do you need to put on those masks? What do you fear would happen if you’d show up as you are?

Which personality traits are you most afraid people will find out about? What do you fear would happen if they find out? 

After each prompt ask yourself several why questions to get to the root cause of your shame which is usually some kind of fear like the fear of rejection, failure, abandonment, or uncertainty. 



This prompt takes on a reverse approach to help you find your shadow. It kind of opens a back door to your subconscious that allows you to quickly discover your shadows. 

To start think of one adverse experience from your life that happened through no fault of your own. It’s very important that you believe it was not your fault. Maybe a friend betrayed you, a partner cheated on you, or you were fired undeservingly. 

Then ask yourself this question “How was this my fault?”. Then wait and see what comes up.

Write it all down. Then look through the list of “your faults” and look for patterns. 

You’re trying to find which attributes your unconscious mind holds about itself. Go beyond the obvious and find out what else will come up. Those right there are your shadows. 

If you can handle it, you can even try this with situations for which you believe it was partially your fault. And ask yourself how was that my fault? This is not to blame yourself but only to get information from deep below the surface. Again go beyond the superficial reasons to find strong emotions. 

Now take all those flaws, thoughts, and mistakes and write a letter to yourself saying this is what you did, this is what you are. And even though you’re not happy with all of that you nonetheless love and accept yourself just as you are. 



shadow work carl jung quote

Which personality traits annoy you the most in other people? 

Which situations irritate you? 

Whenever the behavior of another person causes a strong feeling of annoyance or irritation it’s a sign that there are some repressed thoughts and feelings coming up. 

All emotions that arise in you come from deep within you, they are never a result of another person or their behavior toward you. Nobody can make you feel an emotion. Your emotions are your reactions to the world around you. And you are the sole creator of your emotions. 

When you can’t accept somebody else as they are it’s usually because you’re having difficulties accepting yourself as you are. 

What you can’t stand most in others says more about you than about them. You should use every opportunity you get to explore what exactly is there in the depths of your being that is coming out in this form. 

Remember the one time you were irritated by someone. Try not to think about that person and your connection to them and focus only on the situation and behavior. What was it about, why was that so irritating? 

Did you see parts of yourself in the behavior of another person? What emotion did you feel under the feeling of irritation? Was it anger? Was it fear? Or did you feel insulted or threatened in some way? 

Although at the moment there was no train of thought because those reactions are instantaneous, try to create a train of thought that might have happened. 


Limiting fears 

During your lifetime you develop fears in the moments of real or perceived danger. In those moments the fear in some way kept you safe. But if those fears are not processed fully, as is the case with childhood fears, the fear is still there waiting to come out at the first sign of the same or similar danger.

Consider the fears you have that are controlling you. Ask yourself what would you do differently if you didn’t have those fears. 

Sometimes it’s hard to identify a fear. In that case, you can ask yourself what is something you want to do but you’re not doing. 

What is stopping you from going after what you want and living the life you want? 

Once you discover a fear write a letter thanking it for protecting you from dangers in the past, and describe in which ways you’re stronger now and you can bravely face similar situations.



What are your biggest regrets? 

Which thoughts and emotions made you do or not do that which you regret? 

What do these regrets say about your personality? 

If you had acted differently what would that say about your personality? 

Which personality traits do you think are responsible for those regrets? Do you identify those personality traits as parts of your personality?

If you know that every decision comes with pros and cons can you find a way to accept that whichever decision you make in life there will always be a reason to regret it and consider the other option better. Although you can never really know if the other option would have turned out better. 

Write a letter in which you explain your decisions and make peace with your regrets. 



Feeling content with yourself is the basis for joy, creativity, and growth. If you’re not content with yourself it will be hard for you to live a fulfilling life. Discovering those parts you’re rejecting and accepting them will help you reach a stage where you can feel content with yourself regardless of the circumstances in your life.

Which beliefs about life and unfulfilled expectations from life do you have that are making you feel powerless? 

Do you feel the need to live up to other people’s expectations? Are you neglecting your desires because of other people’s expectations of you? 

Which goals or ambitions you’ve never dared to pursue? Which thoughts are holding you back?

Which self-critical thoughts do you have most often? 

Why do you believe you’re not capable of achieving what you want? 



Which emotions do you find so uncomfortable that you’ll do anything to avoid?

What do you do to numb unwanted emotions? 

What do you need to stop numbing those emotions?

What are some topics you never let yourself think about?

Which unwanted behavior do you want to change but can’t? Why do you want to change it? Why can’t you change it? What do you need to change it?

What are you most afraid of?

What makes you feel frustrated?

What are you most sad about?

What makes you feel angry? 

Make it a habit to talk with your emotions by acknowledging their existence and asking them which information they have for you. 

Need more journal prompts? Here you’ll find a collection of 365 journal prompts that will inspire you to explore and express yourself.

Doing shadow work journal prompts regularly you will gain a better understanding of your thoughts and feelings. You will find the missing pieces of yourself that you need to be at peace with yourself. Shadow work is a powerful self-development tool that takes a lot of courage to use. You need to be ready to be completely honest, respectful, and love yourself unconditionally.

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