I'm sure we could all use a little magic or transformation in our lives these days. The past two years have shown us just how fragile our world is which can bring up a lot of emotions...
I don't know about you but I would consider myself a pretty optimistic, glass-half-full kinda person but I've even found my mental health on the struggle bus. My usual toolbox of positive affirmations, meditating, etc haven't always hit the spot like it used to...
Until I began to take a deeper dive into my shadow side...
Before you run off, let me explain...
The shadow self, sometimes known as the 'ego' or 'inner child', is the part of our being that functions just under the surface (read: subconscious). The shadow self is the part of us that is responsible for self-sabotage, procrastination, people-pleasing, etc. It's the part of our psyche that operates from a place of fear, lack, envy, helplessness...you know, all the "low vibe" stuff. What makes it even crazier is that most of the time we are completely unaware!
This may sound depressing or leave you feeling powerless but awareness is the first step in unlearning many of the detrimental behaviors that keep us stuck, hopeless, and unfulfilled.
To gain awareness into the shadow self, we must first take time to sit with it and reflect on the origin of our limiting beliefs. It's not until we take the time to sit with those memories and/or stored (repressed) emotions that we can process them and move on.
Unprocessed emotions take their toll on our physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Shadow work is like finally calling a plumber after your toilet has been clogged for 30 years because you refused to even look in the bathroom and decided to leave the door shut and sprayed air freshner instead...
Disgusting, I know but you get the point.
Here are some journaling prompts to get you started:
1. How do you think people see you?
Exploration: How would they describe you? How do you feel about that?
2. What things are triggers for you?
Exploration: Consider where those irrational feelings stem from.
3. What is the very worst emotion to experience for you personally? Why? Where does that come from?
4. What behaviors trigger judgment from you (ie. attention-seeking, bossiness, etc.) Why?
5. When is the last time you felt let down?
Exploration: Examine how you felt and whether it was truly rational, or if you were triggered.
6. Do you have healthy boundaries in your relationships?
Exploration: Is there any particular relationship that you feel could benefit from stronger boundaries? Explore what is preventing you from having the courage to hold that space. Can you say with complete honesty that you respect the boundaries of others?
7. What makes you feel empty? How do you tend to fill that void?
Exploration: What are some healthy strategies you might develop to overcome feelings of emptiness?
8. Who has the most influence over you? Is that healthy?
9. Do you generally feel less than, better than, or equal to others? Why?
10. What memories bring you shame?
Exploration: Think about who you were then, what led to your behavior, and how you’ve changed since. Now write out the words: I did the best I could at the time and I forgive myself.
Try to make it a daily practice to sit down and write in your journal. Don’t censor yourself. Write whatever comes up without overthinking it. At first, what comes up may feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to lean into it. This is crucial! As you begin to acknowledge the "unsavory" parts of yourself, you learn to deeply and completely love and accept yourself.
When you learn to fully love all of the parts of yourself without judgment, you begin to have more empathy for yourself and others. With this deep sense of self-love, you begin to break the cyclical patterns of self-sabotage by becoming aware of your triggers.