It can be easy to get used to the same type of journaling every day, where you are just going over what your plans are, but to get deeper into journaling and reveal more about yourself, you need to write about your unique challenges and blocks. You can start by writing about what scares you. This helps you to delve deeper into your thoughts when you are journaling, instead of just writing about your day. This can be referred to as shadow work writing.
Shadow work definition is the process of exploring and resolving the darker aspects of yourself. It can involve exploring suppressed feelings, memories, or aspects of your personality that are not typically acknowledged or expressed. Shadow work can be an intense and emotional process, but it can also be extremely healing and transformative.
This type of self-care journaling can be about your thoughts and concerns now or in the future, or your literal fears. Maybe you have anxiety and want to talk about things you can’t because of your anxiety, or you are scared of things like not being as far along as you think you should be in life or a relationship ending. As with all journaling, make sure you are honest with yourself when doing this work.
Journal Your Fears and Secrets
Do you have big, hidden secrets you never tell anyone, not even your journal? Now might be a good time to start. You of course want to make sure your journal is private and nobody will ever be able to read it.
Once you do that, start writing down your most private thoughts. They may vary in the types or sizes of secrets, but they are thoughts you have never admitted to something you have been bottling up for a long time. This can be really therapeutic when there is something you just can’t tell anyone else and you just have to keep it to yourself.
If the thought of writing down your deepest and darkest thoughts terrifies you know that you have every right to rip out and destroy the journal pages you just wrote. Getting your thoughts out of your head is very cathartic, but if having those thoughts documented somewhere causes more anxiety for you then absolutely get rid of them!
You’ll gain so much when you create a journaling ritual for yourself. The time you set aside will give you the opportunity to gain tremendous insight into yourself. In addition, you’ll have a greater sense of your priorities and purpose as you delve deeper into the journaling process. You’ll start to notice negative patterns or self-talk that is detracting from your happiness. Then, you can hold yourself accountable and make corrections as needed. All of this can be a powerful guiding force for taking positive action in your life.
Your Journaling Prompts May Lead You in a New Direction
Remember that what you write about at the beginning of your journaling journey isn’t necessarily what you are going to write about forever. As your life changes, the topics you want or need to write about may change as well. Don’t feel pressured to continue with whatever topics you used to write about. For example, if you started journaling because you wanted to track your goals, but now you are more interested in gratitude, enlightenment, or exploring shadow work that’s okay! Just adjust what you choose to write about; you will still benefit just as much, but in a different way.
Let Your Journaling Routine Grow with You
The routine itself can change and evolve as you do. Maybe you start journaling in the morning, but your schedule or routine changes, so you need to switch to writing at night. Or you find that you don’t do great trying to write during a specific routine each day because your schedule changes a lot, so you prefer to just bring your journal with you and write when you get the time. This is another way journaling is going to evolve over time. Just like any other change in your life, it is only a means of adapting in small ways to make it still work for you.
Beginner Friendly Shadow Work Journal Prompts
Some possible beginner shadow work prompts to get started include exploring the ways in which one feels challenged in life, examining the beliefs that contribute to those feelings, and then taking action to change those beliefs.
What conditions cause me to get nervous, anxious, or panicked?
What are some of my self-destructive habits or behaviors?
When and why did I feel most betrayed?
What characteristics in others irritate me the most? In what ways do I share these characteristics?
What is my strategy for dealing with disappointment?
What circumstances cause me to retreat, feel gloomy, or despair?
What is the most important thing to me in the world?
What do I fear the most, and why?
What aspects of myself do I strive to keep hidden from others?
How at ease am I with expressing anger?
How do I react to other people's outbursts of rage?
How do I deal with failure and what does it mean to me?
Which emotion do I try to stay away from the most?
What are my most common coping mechanisms?
Can I think of more constructive coping mechanisms I would like to try in the future?
How can I remind myself of my new coping strategies?
In using these shadow work journal prompts it’s important to just write what first comes to your mind, without judgment. You’re simply writing thoughts as they come up, not creating a personal manifesto.
You may write things that you then question to be true or not, and in doing so you help clarify your thoughts.
It’s the act of responding to these prompts that often triggers a realization that makes a true impact on your well-being.
When you approach shadow work in this way I find it generally leads to a feeling of relief, improved self-love, and a better understanding of yourself. The goal is personal growth and gentle self-care which is best found in practicing compassion towards yourself.