These 3 powerful shadow work prompts for beginners will help you uncover some of the beliefs and patterns that are holding you back from manifesting your biggest intentions. It's hard work, but it has to be done.
Learning about witchcraft, manifestation, and the power of your personal energy is so thrilling. When you finally accept and understand that you have the power to create whatever you want in your life, it feels hugely liberating.
But then you think about it for a while and realize that if you have the power to create whatever you desire, you also had a hand in creating whatever it is that you have now. And as hard as you try, you're unlikely to make those big dreams a reality if you don't deal with the beliefs and patterns that got you where you are right now. So if you're ready to clear the blocks between you and your intentions, it's time for some shadow work.
If you're in need of deeper support, please consider speaking to a mental health professional for more guidance. These prompts are for self-exploration, but if you're not able to face your shadow alone, that's nothing to be ashamed of. For more support, check out these resources from SAMH and Mind.
What is shadow work?
In the witchcraft community, shadow work refers to any spells, rituals, journaling, energy work, etc. that you do to uncover repressed or unacknowledged beliefs about yourself or the world. It's all about shining a light on the things that you ignore or repress about yourself. Not everything in your shadow is unhelpful, but for whatever reason, you believe that it is not safe to express this aspect of your personality.
Shadow work is not about erradicating those parts of yourself, but rather exploring, accepting, and integrating them. It's about transmuting your shadow into something that can make you even more powerful.
Your shadows are often limiting beliefs that restrain you from expanding. They're barriers and blocks that stop you from growing and stop your manifestations from getting in. So it's absolutely necessary to uncover them. The rewards are great, but the process is not always fun.
To learn more about it, listen to our podcast episode on shadow work.
Preparing for Shadow Work
These prompts are designed to ask uncomfortable questions. Before you begin digging into them, I recommend you take time to ground and center. There are lots of guided meditations available on this. You're going to use a lot of energy, so get some extra energetic support from the Earth. You can also call in angels, ancestors, spirit guides, or any other entities that you work with to support you.
I also recommend you do some self-love work so that you can approach your shadow with compassion rather than criticism. Shadow work is similar to inner child work. The beliefs that you formed that are holding you back were often created by a much less mature version of yourself. If you're going to go back to that version of yourself in your subconscious, consider how you would treat that version of yourself if it was a real life, flesh and blood human. Would you want to berate them or give them a hug? You can offer that same energy to yourself.
Bring a rose quartz crystal into your space. Diffuse some lavender oil. Light some candles. Make the process as comforting as possible because the work itself may not be comforting. You can even get a special journal that really makes you smile and a pen you just love. Make yourself a cup of tea and get cozy.
And don't forget the tissues. This is a time to let all your emotions flow, so if you feel the need to cry or scream or punch a pillow, don't hold back. Let it out because that will release that energy and create space for something more positive to take its place.
Shadow Work Prompts to Get You Started
When you've got yourself all set up, you can begin to dig into these shadow work prompts. I highly recommend that you write down your thoughts with pen and paper, but if you prefer to type them out or even record them in a voice memo, that can also work. The one thing you don't want to do is just think about it and keep it all in your head.
The physical act of writing will help your mind process better. You don't have to write in complete sentences or make any sense. Nobody ever has to read this but you, so don't bring any judgment to the way you express your ideas. Just get them out of your head.
Why is my progress being blocked?
If you've been stuck in the same situation for a while even though you know you want to change, try these questions.
- What is something that you've said you wanted for a long time but haven't been able to achieve yet?
- What is the story that you're telling yourself about it that keeps it from happening?
- What beliefs might you have about yourself or the situation that would make that story true?
- What are the core beliefs at the root of all this? To help you uncover them, continue to ask yourself why as many times as you need until you get to a simpler version of why you feel this way.
- Are those beliefs actually true? If a friend said these things to you, how would you respond?
- How can you begin to forgive yourself for holding this belief and for the ways that it has harmed you?
- What would you like to believe instead? What might a person's life look like if they held this new belief?
- How can you begin to incorporate some of those behaviors into your life to build this new belief?
Why does this other person annoy me so much?
If there's someone in your life who just really pisses you off, it could just be that they're a total jerk. But there could also be something you need to learn about yourself from this situation, especially when that annoying person is someone you also love.
- What are the behaviors in this person that trigger me?
- What emotions come up for me when they do that thing?
- What are other situations that make me feel this way or made me feel this way in the past?
- What is it about these situations that makes me feel unsafe in some way?
- Am I actually in real danger? (If you are, please seek help immediately)
- What is the truth about my shadow that is reflected to me in this other person's behavior?
- How can I approach this aspect of my shadow and this other person with compassion now that I understand it better?
Why do I keep doing this thing I know I don't want to do?
If you have a habit you've been trying to change and you just can't seem to change it, there's probably something in your shadow that's blocking you. If you have an addiction, consider seeking professional help. If it's something behavioral, these prompts may help.
- What do I get that serves me when I do the thing?
- What else could I do that would give me those same benefits?
- How can I set up my life to support doing the new thing?
- How am I sabotaging myself by making the new thing harder?
- How can I enlist the people around me to support the new behavior?
- What needs to change about my environment in order to make the old thing harder to do and the new thing easier to do?
- How will I feel once I've stopped doing the old thing and started doing the new thing?
Enhancing Your Shadow Work with Tarot
I love to use tarot or oracle cards with my shadow work. You will already have a lot of the answers to the shadow work prompts above, but pulling a card for each question may prompt you to consider the question from a different perspective, which can open up new possibilities. What I like to do is journal on the question first and then pull a card to see if there's anything to add. You certainly don't need to buy cards just for this, but if you have some already, this may be helpful.
Shadow work is not easy or fun, but making progress and manifesting your intentions is absolutely awesome. So stop ignoring your shadow. Give it some love and light and see what new opportunities come into your life. If you're looking for someone to help guide you through these shadow work prompts, consider working with me through Sagittarian Tarot & Coaching.