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Shadow Work – 10 Prompts to Shine Light on the Darkness Within

shadow workDisclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for mental health counseling.

Shadow work involves becoming aware of personal beliefs, feelings and parts of yourself that you have been long avoiding or denying.

Associated with Jungian psychology, many of us are intimidated by shadow work. We’ve been resisting these darker elements of ourselves for a reason!

Shadow work is uncomfortable. Your ego does not want to confess that, far beneath the surface, negative or even destructive desires exist.

Shadow work can reveal socially unacceptable desires, opinions, beliefs and feelings. While contemplating your shadow work, it’s natural to think, “If people knew how I really am, I’d be outcast from society. I’d have no friends. My life would be ruined.”

Avoidance rules the day when it comes to all things shadowy. Still, it’s in your best interest, if you’ve never been exposed to shadow work, to engage in it fully.

Why Shadow Work?

Because your shadow is inseparable from you. You may never feel like dealing with it. However, avoiding your necessary shadow work only empowers the negativity. As Jung famously said, “What you resist, persists.”

Ignoring your shadow elements will never stop them from sabotaging your life. Your shadow feelings will simply remain out of your conscious control. The goal of shadow work is to shine a light on your shadow self – to integrate – so that you have more conscious choice – and greater self-acceptance.

Many people, after a period of intense shadow work, claim they feel more comfortable in their own skin. This makes sense, as the shadow represents all things about ourselves with which we’re uncomfortable.

10 Shadow Work Prompts that Shine a Light into Darkness

Treat these prompts as guides into your shadow. A couple of tips: Remember, the shadow is one element of you. It does not represent all of you. Also, don’t force your answers. Just take what comes to mind and accept it as an element of your shadow.

1. Even though I complain, I secretly like feeling ______________ (something negative) because it also makes me feel ______________ (something positive).

2. When I set goals that I convince myself I want to achieve, beneath it all, I feel _______________ (something negative).

3. Now that I think about it, succeeding in life is not so __________ (something positive). In fact, you could even say it’s _____________(something negative).

4. I secretly enjoy allowing certain people to get under my skin because _________________.

5. If I’m honest, I have the same negative traits as my father. For example: ________________.

6. If I’m honest, I have the same negative traits as my mother. For example: ________________.

7. When I am taken advantage of, I feel used. Yet,  the good thing about being used is ____________.

8. The one negative thing I can’t stop saying to myself is ________________. And, honestly, I’m hanging onto to this negativity because _____________.

9. Positive people make me feel so _______________ (something negative). What does this say about me? It says ___________________.

10. If a darker part of me were to speak it’s truth right now, it would say ______________.

What now?

Acceptance. When you feel the insight that comes from shadow work is accurate, accept it. If it’s true, it will help make sense of your life. Think back over time. If your shadow work were accurate, would it explain a lot?

This, in and of itself, is valuable. Now, keep going. The light has dawned upon your shadow. Keep shining. The more you accept, the more you will integrate and stop resisting your shadow. When this happens, you will find you are empowered with more conscious choices. Shadow work brings your shadow in reach of conscious influence.

This free video on self-sabotage does not mention shadow work, but contains clear and practical examples of how the shadow can wreak havoc in our lives.

Shadow Work – 10 Prompts to Shine Light on the Darkness Within

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2016). Shadow Work – 10 Prompts to Shine Light on the Darkness Within. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Nov 2016
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