What is Shadow Work? Why Should We Do It; A Small Guide

Shadow work, what the freak is that? Shadows aren’t only referred to as areas where light is unable to reach. It’s the dark parts that we hide from others and more often, ourselves and what makes it worse is that we’ve been taught from generations to suppress this. Overtime it’s been taught to us as something besides ourselves; such as demons or the devil. I think our shadow selves have (no pun intended) hid in the shadowy parts because we have demonized it and because these aspects of ourselves are so sensitive, there afraid to come out and truly and unapologetically be themselves. Let’s talk about these parts of ourselves and find a way to let them free!

In my last post, called Thou Shall Community Or Not Community, I touch a little bit on my past. Going back in that direction, I remember growing up being around people who talked down on their emotions. “Being emotional equals being weak”, they’d say. As any young person, I took their words and carried them around with me, like how toilet paper sticks on a shoe. Watching not only my family when it comes to emotions: fear, sadness, grief, happiness, and love to name a few, the only emotion I really remember is happiness and laughter. Was it pure happiness? No, it’s just the type you put on to get you through the day. It wasn’t until I entered adulthood that I realized something was wrong; I couldn’t express myself when I needed to. Which is very weird for me to say because, I’m an artist, an aspiring poet, and dedicated writer. What do I mean I can’t express myself? It wouldn’t be until the pandemic hit that I was able to do shadow work and the true meaning of it.

The first time I ever heard about shadow work was on social media, and just like any ol’ use to be christian, I thought it had to do with the devil or something. Actually back in the 20th century, Carl Jung, coined the term shadow self, in Jungian psychology, this term describes the unconscious parts of the personality that our conscious ego doesn’t want to identify in itself. Once I did some googling and found it’s deeper meaning and how I can achieve it, I came across a bunch of prompts. More importantly, everyone was describing their experience and how they went uncovering their shadow selves. My biggest take away is that there is no way right way to do shadow work, the whole point is to identify the parts of yourself that you don’t want to be out in the light, ask them to sit with you, and work out the issues you have like couples counseling.

One day while on TikTok, someone had mentioned this YouTuber, Infinite Waters and the topics that he talks about. Little did I know that he would have a video on shadow work. He describes shadow work as saying what’s on your mind and freeing the thoughts you want to hold captive. Not holding back on how you truly feel and most importantly being honest with yourself.

The more I did shadow work the more I realized how much I hid from myself. It’s truly amazing how the human mind is; truly. All these words that I had no idea I wanted to say and problems that I never even knew bothered me, just came out like word vomit, (figuratively of course). There were things that I held onto that I had no idea bothered me, it was like finding moldy food in the back of the refrigerator, even though you don’t remember buying a tomato; or maybe it’s an orange. My next problem was, not only addressing these issues but now making sure I made peace with them. A big part of spirituality which I’m learning to feel comfortable with is the work it takes to get yourself out of feeling less then; I’ve heard its called the birthing process. For a while I was climbing these milestones and making accomplishments but still feeling as those old wounds were still bleeding. “But I did the work to overcome this,” I’d say to myself, still wondering why these pass emotions still felt current.

When doing shadow work this is the best time to set up an arsenal of tools to heal yourself. Music, dance, meditation, working out, all of it. I first started out with spiritual showers, which is a shower but with intention. I’d get my epson salt that’s scented with Eucalyptus and Spearmint, then add a few drops of lemongrass (to repel snakes). And once I was in there I’d scrub my body from the neck down, like I was scrubbing away the negative emotions on my body. Don’t scrub yourself so hard you get an injury but keep your thoughts on the emotions you want to get rid of (side note: washing from the feet up towards the neck, you want to bring in positivity/manifest, washing from the neck down, you want to remove negativity/banish). After, take your epson salt with lemongrass and pour over your body from neck or face, down. I do this about 3 times and I feel so refreshed once I get out the shower. Drinking tea is another tool I added to my bag but I realized that drinking fresh herbs is better than the store bought stuff. I understand that we have to worry about the herbs being ethically sourced and how expensive it is, but I’m telling you, if you can find a way to get fresh herbs and/or find it in your budget to buy some fresh herbs, please do so. The herbs I buy are vacuum sealed and ethically sourced (meaning they were forged), and their not expensive at all (check out Etsy for some amazingly priced herbs). When making my tea, again with intention, the mix of freshness along with the strong aroma and natural sweetener I use (agave), the experience is so much better. The effects of the herbs are much more potent and active, but after a while, I needed to add more to my arsenal of tools.

Listening to music is a new one and surprisingly a helpful one. The sound of thunder storms, the ocean, and some ASMAR videos really does help one to relax, but still, even after all that, my wounds still felt slightly open, like half of a scab that has come off. Adding yoga and a work routine, helped me release all my anger and made me remember why I was so active as a kid. Only just recently starting back up and following a video on YouTube, I saw a recommendation for a video called Introvert Diaries. I’ve watched a couple of Hitomi’s videos before but this one hit me differently because of the message. She said that once you address a situation, you can’t keep inviting that feeling in to sit down and chill (I’m most definitely paraphrasing but) if you keep inviting that situation in or feeding into it, then it will always effect you. Make peace with it, watch the feeling float away, and relish with happiness that those feelings no longer effect you. And if they decide they want to pay you a visit, close the door on them and walk away.

The part I’m referring to starts at 10:10 but feel free to watch the whole video. *Warning* She does share her experience with self hurting thoughts

Now that I’ve said what I wanted to, lets go over how to do shadow work and some small prompts you can do to get started.

  • Make sure to have some tools you can refer to before you start your shadow work to help you resolve your emotions

  • Shadow work can be written down or in my personal experience I’ve recorded myself and then listen to it afterwards

  • Don’t try to do everything at once, pace yourself and try to not let your thoughts and emotions consume you.

  • Once you’ve made peace with things that have come up from your past, don’t let them fester. Stop them in their tracks and tell them, you’ve resolved these feelings already

Practice Prompt

  1. Who has influenced you most and why?
  2. Who was the person that has hurt you the most in your life? And what happened to the relationship after?
  3. What are your fears?
  4. What is your favorite color and why?
  5. When you get sad, how do you cope with it? And why?
  6. What are your relationships like and how does it make you feel?
  7. What interests and hobbies did you have growing up, that you haven’t done in a while?
  8. What habits make you judge other’s?
  9. What’s something you’ve always want to try and were you able to do it?
  10. How do you view love?


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