No matter how sweet, kind, nice, or good we may appear to be on the surface, we all have a dark side.
And exploring that dark side – truly learning to understand, befriend, and integrate it – is an essential task for every human being.
Perhaps one of the most powerful and bone-deep practices out there for examining the shadow is journaling.
As the co-author of the Shadow Work Journal – and a lifelong avid journaler – I’m going to share with you over thirty unique prompts that are based around the seven different chakras (energy centers) in the body.
Table of contents
- What is the Shadow Self?
- What is Shadow Work?
- What Are the Chakras?
- 35 Shadow Work Prompts (Covering Each Chakra)
What is the Shadow Self?
Our shadow self is our dark side, our inner ‘basement’ that contains all the parts of ourselves that we have a hard time accepting.
In the words of psychotherapist Robert A. Johnson:
The Shadow is comprised largely of elements of our nature — our repressed sexuality, fears, frailties, secret desires, and so on — that we have rejected for various reasons, and as such have been effectively split off, forming a type of secondary personality that emerges under certain conditions, like stress, anxiety, strong emotions, and anything involving sudden changes.
Is the shadow self only full of dark and negative stuff? No, not necessarily.
There are also positive elements stuffed within the shadow such as hidden gifts (e.g., intuitive, artistic, humanitarian) and qualities like sensitivity and even compassion that we may have needed to hide away as children for fear of being punished, bullied, or rejected.
I talk more about this “golden shadow” in my article entitled Shadow Work: 13 Dark Archetypes.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is quite simply the practice of actively choosing to explore our shadow selves.
As one facet of inner work, shadow work is most effective when we have a strong foundation of self-love and inner child work supporting us.
Without knowing how to show self-compassion toward ourselves, shadow work can be harmful and even retraumatizing (e.g., we can beat ourselves up over what we discover and use it to torment ourselves).
What Are the Chakras?
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that literally translates to “wheel” or “disk.” Our chakras, therefore, are seen as wheels of spinning energy in our bodies, and they govern different areas of our human experience.
We possess seven main chakras that include the following:
1. Root Chakra (Muladhara) – located at the base of the spine / connected to our sense of survival.
2. Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana) – located in the lower abdomen just below the belly button / connected to our sense of pleasure.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) – located in the upper abdomen just below the ribs / connected to our sense of personal power.
4. Heart Chakra (Anahata) – located in the center of the chest / connected to our ability to give/receive love.
5. Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) – located in the throat area / connected to our ability to communicate and self-express.
6. Third-Eye Chakra (Ajna) – located between the eyebrows / connected to our intuition and wisdom.
7. Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) – located on the very top of the head / rules our ability to connect with the Divine.
We’ll be exploring some shadow work prompts for each of these chakras below.
Free Shadow Workbook!
Want to learn more about journaling with your shadow? Get our FREE Shadow Self Workbook!
35 Shadow Work Prompts (Covering Each Chakra)
Truth is not afraid of questions.– Paramahansa Yogananda
Journaling helps us to dig through the layers of our being, unearth subterranean insights, spark new awareness, and give our shadows room to breathe and be seen.
If you enjoy these prompts, you might like to check out our highly rated Shadow Work Journal which contains 60+ illuminating shadow work prompts (and lusciously illustrated quotes) to help you go deeper.
You might like to also check out our Shadow & Light Membership for ongoing shadow work guidance and prompts that are intuitively chosen each week!
By the way, a little bit of journaling can go a long way (trust me, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years!). So be sure to take it easy, go at your own pace, and answer the questions you feel most drawn to or repelled by (a good sign that your shadow has been stirred from its slumber!).
I recommend choosing one or two questions per day to journal about. But, of course, you’re free to approach these shadow work prompts in whatever way you see fit:
Root Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
1. How do you unintentionally allow others to invade your personal boundaries?
2. What traumas have you inherited from your ancestors?
3. When you think about the word “family,” what feelings, emotions, memories, and thoughts arise (both good and bad)? How might that understanding of family impact who you are today?
4. Do you trust yourself? Do you trust others? Do you trust life? Why or why not?
(By the way, if you’d like to learn how to ground and cleanse the root chakra, see our Grounding & Cleansing Chakra Bundle.)
Sacral Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
5. What is your relationship like with your sexuality?
6. Reflect on any personal habits that make you feel guilty. Why do they stir this emotion within you? What toxic core belief or judgment is going on behind the scenes?
7. Notice how the following statement makes you feel: “I deserve pleasure in my life.” How do these words sit with you?
8. Do you veer towards hedonism or asceticism? Why? What scares you about the opposite quality?
(See our Grounding & Cleansing Chakra Bundle if you want to explore this chakra more.)
Solar Plexus Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
9. What makes you feel ashamed of yourself? Why?
10. If you have a gentle personality, what scares you about anger? If you have a rough personality, what scares you about softening up and letting go?
11. Imagine holding a ball of fire in your hand. If you could set something (or someone) on fire without fear of consequence, who/what would it be? Why?
12. In your most dark moments, what makes you feel empty and unworthy?
(See our solar plexus chakra healing article to dive deeper.)
Heart Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
13. Deep down, do you feel worthy of true love? Why/why not?
14. What were you taught about giving and receiving love as a child?
15. What quality within you do you have the most trouble accepting?
16. In relationships with others, what is your biggest flaw?
(See: Heart Chakra Healing if you want to explore this energy center more.)
Throat Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
17. What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
18. If you were to write in the voice of your inner critic right now, what would it say to you?
19. Notice how the following statement makes you feel: “I deserve to speak up and be listened to.” How do these words sit with you?
20. Were you listened to as a child?
21. What is your biggest criticism of other people? How might this criticism apply to you as well?
(See: Throat Chakra Healing if you want to explore this energy center more.)
Third Eye Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
22. When was the last time you realized you were deluded or believed something false? What was that experience like for you?
23. What might you be in denial about right now?
24. Name an area in life where you’re seeing in black or white (e.g, good or bad, right or wrong, spiritual or unspiritual, nice or nasty). What shades of grey are you missing?
25. In what ways do you mistrust your intuition?
(See: Third Eye Chakra Healing if you want to explore this energy center more.)
Crown Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
26. In what areas of life do you struggle to think for yourself?
27. What kind of spiritual abuse (if any) did you experience growing up? How has that impacted the way you perceive yourself, others, and life?
28. What part of your current belief system are you having a hard time believing or trusting? How might this be beneficial and/or harmful to you?
29. How might you be spiritually bypassing your everyday human problems?
(See: Crown Chakra Healing if you want to explore this energy center more.)
Bonus Chakra Shadow Work Prompts
The following shadow work prompts are so general that they fit under multiple chakras, which is why I’ve decided to add them as bonuses here:
30. What negative family patterns might you be repeating?
31. What parts of yourself do you hide away from other people? Why?
32. What do you fear would happen if others saw the very worst of you?
33. How do you avoid feeling your feelings? Think about the addictive patterns you have. What would happen if you did feel your feelings deeply?
34. Reflect on a person you intensely dislike. How might you be like this person – in even the smallest way?
35. Have you ever experienced a Dark Night of the Soul where you felt totally alone and abandoned by God/Divinity? If so, what inner/outer spiritual resources did you draw upon to find the light again? What did you learn or how did you grow from such an experience?
To close this article, I’ll leave you with a profound quote that summarizes WHY doing shadow work journaling is so important:
Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.– Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn
Finally, don’t forget that if you want to go deeper and feel more supported during your shadow work, I’ve created a Shadow Work Journal with over sixty prompts for you to enjoy.
Tell me, which is your favorite prompt? Do you have any others to recommend? If so, please share below to help spread wisdom and self-awareness!