By Audrey Tan

As humans, we all have certain traits that we are proud of and some that we try to hide from others or even ourselves. The shadow self comprises parts of yourself that you find difficult to accept. These can be personality traits, emotions, or thoughts that don’t fit in with our conceptions of ourselves and don’t make us feel good. So, often, we unknowingly suppress them to the depths of our psyche. 

But as we now know, ignoring our true feelings can do more harm than good for our mental health. Tackling “shadow” traits head-on is the solution to fully healing and growing as a human being. Moreover, suppressed feelings can still manifest thanks to certain triggers, and you may be unable to cope with the stress when this happens. It will feel like your world has come crashing down. 

Shadow Work And Its Self-Fulfilling Benefits

Shadow work refers to the exploration and understanding of one’s shadow self which is often avoided, such as negative emotions, fears, and past traumas. The idea was popularised by psychoanalyst Carl Jung who said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate“. 

Shadow work aims to integrate hidden parts of the self so you can become more complete and self-aware. You can gain a deeper understanding of your own behaviour and motivations, leading to a greater ability to manifest desired changes and achieve your goals. Additionally, by facing darker aspects of yourself, you will be able to identify and let go of negative patterns and behaviours. These are the things that might be holding you back, so by dealing with them, you can learn to accept yourself fully. 

In a nutshell, the benefits of shadow work include the following: 

  • Greater self-awareness and understanding of one’s own behaviour and motivations
  • Improved emotional regulation and resilience
  • Increased empathy and ability to connect with others
  • More authentic and fulfilling relationships
  • Greater sense of personal power and agency
  • Enhanced ability to manifest desired changes in one’s life

What Is Shadow Work Journaling?

Shadow work journaling is an excellent way to start your healing journey. It involves putting all your suppressed thoughts down on paper, which is a great way to do some serious introspection and gain a greater insight into oneself. 

Most of us are familiar with journaling as a way to process thoughts and emotions in a safe and private space. It is especially beneficial for those who have difficulty expressing themselves. Because of this, journaling is a popular tool for tackling dark, complex emotions. 

Tips For Effective Shadow Work Journaling

  1. For those who really find it difficult to open up, you can use prompts and exercises designed to help you access deeper levels of awareness and understanding. These can be questions or statements that make you think, and you can easily find them online for free. Some examples are:
  • Reflect on a specific event or situation that made you have strong negative emotions. How did you feel, and how did you react?
  • Write about an insecurity that you have and explore where it comes from and how it affects your life.
  • Think about a past trauma and how it is affecting your life.
  • Pen a negative behaviour you want to change, and explore what caused it to manifest.

2. Shadow work is a journey—remember to start small and be kind to yourself. Confronting your darker self is not for the faint of heart, so avoid being overly ambitious when you first begin. Start by doing 10 minutes per session and gradually increase as you get more comfortable with the process. 

    3.  Consistency is essential to get the most out of shadow work journaling. Even on days when you don’t feel like expressing yourself, try to get a few lines in. You never know; it might just be what you need to get over a bad day!

4.  Be completely specific and honest with yourself—don’t be afraid to dig deep! Write down anything and everything relating to specific situations in which you have experienced shadow aspects of yourself. 

5.   After each journaling session, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve written to identify any patterns or themes and how they relate to your overall growth. 

If you’re ready to dive deeper into understanding yourself and bring your “shadow” into conscious awareness, pick up a journal today and start scribbling! Remember to always be gentle and kind towards yourself as you work through these difficult questions. 

Getting in touch with one’s darker self isn’t easy, so kudos to you for getting started! There may be a lot of questioning and crying at first, but remind yourself that it is a worthwhile journey where the end result is to live a more authentic and fulfilling life. Trust me, you’re worth it!!