What Is Shadow Work?

What Is Shadow Work?

If you are interested in therapy modalities, chances are you have probably heard of the term "shadow work" or "shadow self." Shadow self refers to the aspects of our identity that we repress and ignore because we view them as being undesirable. The goal of shadow work is to acknowledge and make peace with those parts of us so that we can become whole. 

For example, if a sensitive child was always reprimanded for crying and showing emotion, that child may grow up to repress their emotions in an attempt to be likable. They may even become extremely uncomfortable or triggered when they view someone else openly expressing their emotions. For that person, the goal of shadow work is to become comfortable with their sensitive side and to begin to incorporate that part of themself back into their personality.

Benefits of Shadow Work

Ultimately the goal of shadow work is to be more self aware and comfortable in who you are as a whole. Once you are more comfortable in your own skin, you will begin to align with more authentic opportunities and deepen your relationships.

Benefits of shadow work include:

  • Greater self awareness 
  • Improved self-esteem and self-acceptance
  • Healthy relationships with others 
  • Ability to quiet negative self talk

How To Do Shadow Work

Shadow work can be done in a number of different ways. One of my favorite ways to do shadow work is through journaling. When you journal consistently you are able to have a better understanding of your feelings and how your brain works.

Last week I hosted my first Shadow Work Journaling Workshop at Glitter Thicket in Nyack, NY. Here are the prompts that we worked on:


  • What am I most afraid of others finding out about me?
  • Think of people in your life. Write down the most upsetting aspects of those people.
  • What do I want people to feel around me?
  • How did my parents break my heart?
  • What are some things my parents did that damaged my idea of a relationship?
  • What would I tell my younger self?  

These prompts help to look at the subconscious parts of your mind and reflect upon aspects of your experience that you may often repress. In uncovering these parts, you will heal holistically and improve your quality of life.

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