What is shadow work? It involves journaling about a variety of things while asking yourself the hard questions. What exactly are these questions, you ask?
Think back to your childhood. Not just the happy parts, but the parts that make you feel insecure and frustrated. How have those things impacted you in adulthood?
There are more types of questions as well (you can see many of them on the list below). The idea is to come away with a better understanding of why you feel the way you do about certain things, not to mention how you can use this information to improve your emotions and thus, your behavior.
Below are 50 writing prompts if you’re in the mood to do some heavy lifting with shadow work. Remember, it’s a good idea to pace yourself. You don’t want to deal with all these emotions for too long at one time.
50. What are the things you admire the most about other people?
Think about the things that you really admire about others. Why do you think you admire these qualities in other people? Is it because they have similar values as you or because they possess values you wish you had?
49. What types of situations make you feel triggered?
Everyone feels triggered at one time or another. Is there something that really gets under your skin and makes you feel upset or angry almost immediately? Maybe there’s something that makes you instantly sad or even fearful. What are your own personal triggers and more importantly, why do you think they exist?
48. Describe the qualities you like the least in other people.
When you’re around other people, what types of qualities really make you feel frustrated? Why do you think those qualities bother you so much? Is it because you see something in them that you don’t like about yourself?
47. Which personal traits do you typically judge yourself on?
Maybe you have certain traits that you really judge yourself harshly on. Do you allow yourself the same type of understanding and forgiveness that you allow other people? If not, why do you think this is the case?
46. Which parts of your body hold the most tension?
Think about the parts of your body where you typically feel the most pain as a direct result of tension. By critically thinking in this manner, you might be able to disseminate why you hold tension about certain things and how you can deal with it in a healthier manner.
45. Do you have emotions that weren’t validated when you were a child?
Were there certain emotions that you didn’t feel were validated adequately when you were growing up? If so, it likely has had an impact on you as an adult. Be honest with yourself and write down any emotions that you felt were not validated. This will give you a starting point to figure out why you might be struggling with certain things in adulthood, as well as how to effectively deal with them.
44. How are you similar to your parents? How does this make you feel?
Think about the similarities that you share with your parents. Are you proud that you have these similarities or is there something that you would prefer to change?
43. In what ways are you different from your parents?
Just as you might think about similarities that you share with your parents, think about ways that you are distinctly different. Are the differences as a result of the growing process or because of your environment, or is it because you made a conscious effort to be different as a result of not liking something that you saw in traits possessed by your parents?
42. What types of coping mechanisms do you currently use?
Do you have healthy coping mechanisms or do you have a tendency to do things that aren’t healthy when the going gets rough? Remember, many things that are considered unhealthy are relatively harmless when done in moderation. By the same token, even healthy hobbies can become unhealthy if you obsess over them or sacrifice things like adequate sleep in order to participate in them.
41. What types of things do you want others to see in you?
How do you want others to think of you? Do you see yourself in the same way or do you think there is a vast difference in the way you see yourself and the way others see you?
40. What do you expect to get from doing shadow work?
Are you hoping to adjust your behaviors in order to live a healthier lifestyle? Maybe you have been struggling with certain emotions and you think this can help you.
39. What kinds of values were you taught to cherish as a child?
Everyone was taught certain values as a child. How did the values taught to you inspire you as an adult? Are there certain things that you feel hold you back as opposed to helping you?
38. Are there certain familial patterns you’re afraid of repeating?
Maybe there were certain things that happened when you were growing up that you wish had been different. Are you scared of repeating the same thing with your own children? If so, what types of things are you fearful of and why?
37. How long has it been since you felt at peace with yourself?
Do you routinely feel at peace or do you find that your soul is restless? If you’re at peace, make note of when and the types of situations involved. If you find yourself to be more restless, do some exploration and try to figure out why.
36. What obstacles do you consider your biggest hurdles right now?
Everyone has certain things that they struggle with. What are the obstacles that are really getting in your way right now? What do you think you could do to get past those obstacles in order to be more present for both yourself and your loved ones?
35. Are there situations where you feel inferior to others?
Everyone has those moments where they feel like they’re not quite as good as those around them. Is this something you only feel occasionally or do you find that you continuously feel inferior to others. If so, why do you think this happens and what can you do to correct it?
34. Which types of situations do you encounter where you feel superior?
Are there certain scenarios where you actually feel superior to others? If so, it might be necessary for you to do some serious work that will help you realize that no one is ever truly superior to another person. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
33. What is your own personal definition of failure?
Failure looks different to each individual. How does it look for you? Do you think that you’ve had more successes or failures in life?
32. Is there a past failure that still haunts you today?
Maybe there is a failure that you had somewhere in your past that still drives you absolutely crazy. If that’s the case, why does it still bother you so much? More importantly, think about ways that you can effectively deal with the situation so that you can move past it.
31. Do you find it hard to open up to others?
Maybe it’s hard for you to trust other people. If you can’t open up to others, try to think about what has happened to you in your past that’s made it difficult for you to be more open. From there, you can work to correct the situation.
30. When is the last time you felt rejected and why?
No one likes to feel rejected. Unfortunately, it happens. When have you felt that way. Write about what happened and examine your feelings closely.
29. What types of things make you feel angry with others? With yourself?
Are there certain things that just set you off and make you feel so angry with others that you can scarcely contain your feelings? Do you get angry with yourself just as easily? If you’re easily angered, it’s important to ascertain why you feel that way. It’s possible that the anger could actually be coming from a place of deep sadness as opposed to truly being angry.
28. Which situations make you feel anxiety?
Are there certain things that make your anxiety bubble up? Why do you think these situations make you anxious? Is it possible that it could be because of something that happened to you in the past?
27. When do you feel sad and why does it happen?
While everyone feels sad from time to time, it’s not particularly healthy to feel sad more often than not. Make specific note of when you feel sad and try to figure out exactly why it is happening. If you find a pattern, it might be because something happened to you that you’re still holding on to.
26. What would you describe as your worst traits?
What do you think you can do to correct those traits so they exhibit a healthier state of mind?
25. Describe something that scares you more than anything else.
There may be something in your past that is causing you to be fearful. Make note of it and then brainstorm ways to move beyond it.
24. What would it look like if your greatest fear actually happened?
Sometimes, you just need to confront your fears. Think about what it would be like if it actually happened. Once you face it, it’s usually not as scary.
23. Describe the negative thoughts that typically go through your mind.
Negative thoughts are normal but they can overtake you if you let them. Write them down and explore why they exist.
22. Describe what you consider your healthiest relationship.
What are the aspects of that relationship that make it so healthy? How can you incorporate those things into your other relationships?
21. Write about a relationship that you have that is unhealthy.
Why are you still in that relationship? Is there a power that the other person holds over you? Explore why you allow unhealthy relationships in your life so you can start to heal.
20. How do you think others see you as a person?
Be honest with yourself. This may not be easy but it can provide valuable insight about various aspects of your personality.
19. How would you like other people to see you?
How closely does this resemble the way you think they actually see you? What can you do to bring the two more in line with one another?
18. Write about the worst emotion you typically feel? Why does it present a problem for you?
Is this an emotion that tends to pop up on a routine basis? If so, why does this keep happening?
17. Talk about your core values and how they help shape you.
Have your core values helped you or hindered you?
16. Do you have a tendency to be judgemental of others? Why or why not?
Those who are judgemental of others often have past issues they haven’t dealt with effectively. Is this a problem for you?
15. Do you have healthy boundaries? Why or why not?
Problems setting boundaries often reflect issues that occurred while growing up. Is this something you need to address?
14. Do you often feel misunderstood? Explain your reasoning.
Maybe you feel like no one else understands you. Is that’s the case, why do you think this is happening?
13. Describe something that has a great deal of influence over you. Is this good or bad?
What types of things do you allow to have influence over your life? Is it a healthy situation or one where you need to work on things?
12. Do you often feel empty? If so, how do you cope with that feeling?
Feeling empty may be a sign that you have repressed emotions. Try to discover what those emotions are, being careful to note how you deal with the feeling of emptiness as a whole.
11. Describe your idea of personal freedom.
What does freedom look like to you? Is there something you can do to make that picture of freedom a reality in your own life?
10. Write about the thighs you tend to complain about a lot. Why do these things bother you?
Is it possible that the things you complain about are also things you do in your own life? People often complain when they see things in other people that remind them of themselves, especially if it’s something they don’t particularly like.
9. Describe the vices you wish you had a better handle on.
Everyone deals with something. What vice or vices do you sometimes allow to get the best of you and how can you work toward gaining better control?
8. Why do you think your vices exist? What are you trying to cope with or hide from?
Vices usually happen because you’re attempting to cope with something or you don’t want to face something. Why are you experiencing this and how can you create a healthier situation for yourself?
7. Write openly about your own toxic traits.
Be honest with yourself. Everyone has them, so don’t be shy. You cannot fix something you fail to admit.
6. Write about the worst thing you have ever done to another person.
How did you feel at the time? How does it make you feel now?
5. What are you most ashamed about?
Is there something you can do to make amends? How can you correct the behavior in the future?
4. Describe the parts of your personality that you wish were different.
Everyone wishes something about them was different. What do you see in yourself that you wish you could change? How do you plan to change it?
3. Think about your childhood and write about one particularly vivid memory.
Why is this memory so vivid? Is it good or bad? Do you think there is more to the story?
2. Write about your most painful memory.
This won’t be easy but it is necessary. If you don’t face the pain, you won’t be able to heal.
1. How do you express powerful emotions like anger, fear or sadness?
Do you express them in a healthy manner or do you allow your emotions to control you?
You can also read:
- 50 Awesome Persuasive Writing Prompts
- 50 Awesome Creative Writing Prompts for High School
- 50 Awesome 3rd Grade Opinion Writing Prompts
- 50 Awesome First Week of School Writing Prompts
- 50 Awesome End of Year Writing Prompts