The Dos and Don’ts of Shadow Work Journaling

4 minute read

Choosing to dive into the deepest, dark corners of your soul is not a choice to be taken lightly. Yet, “shadow work journals” and journaling prompts are becoming more and more popular, thanks to TikTok and the normalization of self-healing tools (YAAAS).

As a writer and writing to heal guide, I have been absolutely loving the conversations and realizations I’ve been hearing from friends and clients! Part of my passion in life is guiding others through journaling workshops or private exercises to unveil truths, blockages, and outdated thoughts patterns so that they can live their most fulfilling lives. So, watching journaling get the recognition I believe it deserves has been so beautiful!

But “shadow work journaling” is a very particular type of journaling. Shadow work refers to shedding light on the tougher, more intimate parts of your mind, soul and self. Sometimes this looks like looking back on your childhood to see where certain beliefs stem from. Other times, it’s as simple as analyzing a recent event that left you feeling not so great. Regardless of what your shadow work entails, the purpose remains the same– to lead you to new realizations so that you may cultivate a healthier understanding of yourself. 

We all have parts of ourselves we shy away from. I’m a firm believer that light can’t be found and cherished without us first appreciating the darkness within. Though those feelings are certainly uncomfortable, they all play an important role in our survival– at least until it’s time to release them. And you will always know when that time arrives.

For now, if you find yourself curious about shadow work journaling, dive into it with curiosity and openness! Simply having a desire to heal is something to be proud of. So, take whatever healing results from your shadow work journey as an extra sweet win! While I believe there’s no wrong way to heal, there are a few suggestions I have for those looking to take their journaling to the next level. Ahead, a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind throughout your shadow work journaling. 

May this journey lead you to all that you’ve been searching for and maybe even a little bit more! Who knows? Perhaps the best parts of you are yet to be discovered!

Don’t: Rush through the questions.
Do: Trust your first instincts.

The “right” answer is often the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes we try to reason our way out of self-trust because the first answer is uncomfortable or “doesn’t make sense”. But when diving into matters of the soul, you have to let the soul speak. And nine times out of ten, it’s that first little voice in your head that blurts out a short, quick answer. Trust it! 

Don’t: Force yourself to go in order
Do: Answer each of the questions

Did a question bring up an icky or heavy feeling? That’s okay. Pause and feel through it or skip the question for now. This is your journey and there’s no perfect order to go in. Jump ahead to the next place that feels safe to dive into. But be sure to go back to the uncomfortable ones when you have the capacity to! It’s important to lean into the discomfort. There’s so much peace and ease to be found on the other side of it.

Don’t: Set a “goal”
Do: Set an “intention”

An intention is a simple word or short phrase that describes the feeling you hope to gain throughout this experience. Goals have time constraints and hard parameters. Using an intention instead allows you to stay open to the way the feeling comes to you and open to whatever arises throughout your healing journey.

Don’t: Expect yourself to feel “healed” overnight
Do: Trust that you are always healing

We are all constantly healing. Every second of every day, we grow through experiences, choices and conversations. Some contribute to our healing in small ways and others cause more obvious transformations. Yet, each and every piece of our human experience adds to who we are. As long as you promise yourself that you will choose growth whenever possible, you will always be healing.