How To Do Shadow Work

Before we start manifesting we need to do our shadow work, in this post I am going to teach you how to do shadow work. For most, shadow work is really hard because it means we have to face those parts of us that are wounded and need healing. Our shadow self, the part of us where our ego comes in to try and stop us from stepping out of our comfort zone, or that part of us that decides to do what our parents want us to do rather than what we think is best for ourselves.

Our shadow self holds all of our limiting beliefs that stop us from manifesting what we really desire and or shadow self stops us from showing up as our true authentic self. It’s also the part of us that reveals itself when we feel triggered.


DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed therapist, psychologist, etc. This is just based off of my own healing journey, therapy I went through, and my own research. Always seek out medical help from a licensed professional. 


If you’d rather listen to this episode: 


How to do shadow work and inner child healing


Shadow Work: What Needs Healing?

The first step to doing shadow work is to figure out what we need to heal. These 90 shadow work journal prompts can help you figure this out

Think about what triggers you, usually our triggers will point towards that shadow side, that side of us that needs to be healed.

Then I want you to also think about what reactions and responses you have to those triggers. These reactions can point towards a version of ourself that we created in order to feel safe as a child.

For example,

Because of the relationship I had with my dad growing up, I was constantly walking on egg shells around him because his temper was constantly changing. He was always angry, upset and yelling. This really bothered me as a child to the point where I would always second guess my actions. I’d wonder if what I was doing was going to make my dad upset or not.

The response I created because of this was “people pleasing”. I held onto this almost all my life until I finally started healing and realized that this was a trauma response I picked up in my childhood as a way to protect myself as a kid.

I always hated confrontation and making other people upset, so instead I would avoid it all together. I would just do what I thought would make everyone else happy rather than doing what would make ME happy.

Often times people pleasing can cause this inauthentic version of self because we aren’t listening to what we truly want. Instead we are doing what we think others want us to do. This creates this mask of who we truly want to be and show up as.

You could probably notice this too if for example, you have parents that really want you to go to college and get a degree, but deep down you know that’s not entirely what you want to do. You think college would be a waste of money for you because you aren’t sure what you really want to do for the rest of your life yet. However, you don’t want to let your parents down because they are your parents, you’d do anything to make them proud, so instead of listening to your intuition, you follow your parents’ wishes for you and you go to college.

That’s another example of people pleasing and trying to seek external validation. This actually creates a block between you and your intuition because instead of listening to your intuition, you are listening to external voices that are outside of you.

The need for external validation is another trauma response that many of us pick up as a child.

I know I personally struggled with external validation for a long time. I always wanted my parents to reassure me as a child, to validate my feelings, but often I didn’t get that. Usually feeling rejected by a parent creates this rejection wound and can cause us to so badly want approval and acceptance from those around us to fill a void from childhood.

The thing is, we didn’t come here to live a life that other people want for us. We are meant to live out a life where we are listening to our intuition, a life where we are in alignment with our highest version of self. That’s how we live out the most authentic versions of ourselves and that’s when our soul is the most fulfilled.

So what responses have you created to protect yourself as a child that you haven’t been able to let go of?

Some examples are:

  • co dependency
  • staying in toxic situations because you feel like that’s what you are worthy of
  • staying in toxic situations because you are afraid to step out of your comfort zone and leave.

Often times we cling onto what is comfortable to us because the unknown is uncomfortable. It’s something new and it’s unknown which scares our ego.

Letting go of the familiar and embracing change

Letting go of the familiar and embracing change is a huge part of shadow work. The experiences I went through as a child left me with this feeling of familiarity when it came to change and chaos, so when my life finally felt stable, I would self sabotage because stability was so unfamiliar to me.

Sometimes we become so comfortable with chaos and toxic situations that we can’t even see how much damage it’s causing, but it’s these cycles that we can break through doing shadow work and inner child healing.

Other trauma responses include second guessing yourself and indecisiveness, the need for external validation, not prioritizing your own needs, clinging to unhealthy relationships, constantly blaming yourself, a victim mentality, lacking boundaries, always trying to fix others, addictions, and so much more.

If any of these sound familiar to you, then this is an indication that there may be some unhealed wounds that you need to address.

Doing the shadow work helps us come into alignment with our highest self, raises our vibration and then helps us to align with what we want to manifest into our reality. Unhealed wounds and ignored emotions can also fill us with limiting beliefs and those limiting beliefs hold us back from manifesting the life we desire.

Shadow Work: Identifying Limiting Beliefs Through Our Inner Child Wounds

I want to touch on some of the limiting beliefs and trauma responses that I created in my own life and how I was able to work through each. I have been working on healing from these experiences for a long time now and I will tell you that healing is never easy and it’s not linear.

Some days are easier than others and some days you feel like you took a step back and that’s okay, but embracing my healing journey has helped me align with my purpose. It’s helped me align with the life that I want to live and it’s helped me find not only my voice, but my inner strength and confidence that I pushed away for so long.

Abandonment wound

One of my deepest wounds has been an abandonment wound. This wound started back when my parents got divorced and I was dealing with a wounded relationship with my dad.

There were many instances when I felt as if my dad abandoned me. From when my parents divorced and he took off to travel the country without saying goodbye, to when he got mad at me when i was 14-15 years old and left me in a parking lot alone with no ride home and no cellphone. He never showed up for my big life moments like prom or my high school graduation, so this wound was felt deeply.

I always knew growing up that my relationship wasn’t always the best with my dad, but I didn’t realize just how much that relationship affected my love life and my relationship with others.

Some signs of an abandonment wound are:

  • Fear of being left out or always feeling like you are being left out
  • Fear that people are going to leave you so you struggle to get emotionally attached or you attract co dependent relationships and struggle with co dependency.
  • You hate being alone
  • You attract emotionally unavailable partners
  • When you argue you threaten to leave.

These are just some examples that may indicate that you need to heal from an abandonment wound.

Neglect Wound

Another wound that is common would be a neglect wound. We usually see this when we didn’t receive the emotional support we needed growing up.

A lot of parents have trauma of their own that they never healed from and most of the time they show love in ways that they were shown love. They show us love the best way they can, but sometimes their best is lacking a lot.

Maybe you read my previous blog post on generational trauma. Generational trauma is very common in my parents’ generation. They are the generation that were shown “tough love” and because they were shown tough love and never allowed themselves to heal from the tough love they received, this creates generational trauma. Now the parent is showing love to their child the way they were shown love.

You often hear this generation say things like, “I was shown tough love and turned out fine.” and most of the time they fail to notice the toxic cycles and trauma responses they actually have from the tough love they received.

Healing and doing shadow work can help break these generational trauma cycles. A common wound that can come from “tough love” is a neglect wound. Neglect can be seen in many ways. Emotional neglect is very common. This is when you have a parent who is emotionally detached and isn’t there to help their child work through their emotions.

Perhaps the child feels like they can’t open up emotionally because the parent doesn’t want to bother talking about emotions. They tell the child to stop crying, it’s not that serious, you have nothing to be upset about.

Another way a child may be neglected is when the parents aren’t home much, so the child is basically taking care of themselves. They get pushed to become independent and grow up fast. The parents aren’t there to give guidance or support that the child needs and often doesn’t meet the child’s basic needs.

Some signs of a neglect wound are:

  • Feeling like you are never good enough
  • Struggling with low self worth
  • You don’t like asking for help
  • You are sensitive to rejection
  • You attract emotionally unavailable partners
  • You feel like you can only rely on yourself
  • It’s hard for you to feel your emotions
  • You don’t open up emotionally to others & may struggle to be emotionally affectionate to others
  • It’s hard for you to let things go
  • You don’t have proper boundaries in place
  • You suppress your emotions and at times you get angry easily.

These are again, just some examples.

Guilt Wound

Then we have a guilt wound and often this can happen to children who were used as the scapegoat or had a narcissistic parent.

An example of this is a parent using you as an excuse as to why they can’t do something, or overhearing a parent blame you for something that you knew deep down wasn’t your fault. This is seen often when it comes to divorce as well.

Signs of a guilt wound:

  • Constantly apologizing and feeling sorry or bad
  • You tend to attract people who make you feel guilty
  • You don’t like to ask for anything, especially help
  • You are Afraid to or can’t set proper boundaries which can also lead to people pleasing tendencies.

Trust Wound

The last wound I’m going to mention is the trust wound. Often this is created when there is broken trust. Even something like a parent always promising to make it to your games or recitals and then never showing up, or a parent who promises you something, but always lets you down and can’t keep their word. A trust wound can also be created when someone in your life oversteps your boundaries and creates this energy of distrust.

A trust wound can also be created in adulthood. When you have a partner who lies to you, breaks promises and/or cheats, but often these relationships find their way to us because of childhood wounds that we haven’t healed from.

Signs of a trust wound:

  • Always finding ways not to trust people
  • You are constantly afraid of being hurt
  • You have insecurities and need external validation
  • You don’t feel safe most of the time and you tend to attract people who don’t feel safe and constantly break your trust

Often times we are attracting similar situations in our life that reflect the childhood we had because that’s what’s considered “comfortable” to us. It’s all we’ve ever known, so subconsciously we think that’s all we deserve.

Our subconscious mind continues to look for relationships that will mirror back these unhealed wounds to us and trigger us until we finally recognize the repeating patterns, heal, and make the necessary changes.

Identify toxic patterns & Limiting beliefs

When it comes to healing our inner child and doing shadow work, we need to identify the toxic patterns and cycles that continue to repeat in our life.

Maybe it’s a toxic relationship that keeps repeating, maybe it’s a toxic work environment that you can’t get out of, or maybe it’s a financial crisis that you can’t seem to get past? These are all reflections of how we feel internally.

For the longest time I struggled financially. I had a lot of debt and I felt like I would never get to the point where I’d make ends meet. I remember so badly wanting to buy my own home and it felt like it would never happen. That’s because I was coming from a place of lack. I had this lack mindset when it came to money and a lot of that stemmed from my childhood.

My parents never had money. I always had a roof over my head and food on the table which I was grateful for, but I watched my parents struggle when my dad lost his job. Then when my parents divorced my mom was a single mom who worked 2-3 jobs to make it by.

I was surrounded by limiting money beliefs all my life. Money was considered the root of all evil. My parents constantly fought over money. I had to unlearn these money mindsets in order to allow myself to be open to receive money.

When we are coming from a place of “lack” we are essentially blocking higher vibrational energy and therefore we keep things like money from entering our life.

When it comes to shadow work you need to identify your triggers, bring awareness to your responses, and then identify the limiting belief and toxic patterns.

This isn’t always easy to do, especially if you suppressed your childhood memories.

My best tip if you have suppressed your memories and can’t remember your childhood is to try not to search for your memories. Instead, recognize your triggers when they come up.

Like what makes you angry? What makes you upset? What limiting beliefs do you have? How do you react when you are arguing with someone else?

The way you argue with someone can point to unhealed wounds.

For example do you say things like,

“Nothing I do is ever good enough!” Or “I know, it’s all my fault, I’m the worst.”

Or do you say things like,

“I’ll just leave if that’s what you want.”

Do you get loud and violent like punching walls or throwing things?

The way you communicate and handle disagreements can usually help you identify wounds that need healing.

If you threaten to leave during an argument then you probably struggled with abandonment wounds. If you say you aren’t good enough then you probably felt rejected in some way by your parent. Once you identify your triggers, that’s when you can start to heal.

If you have any interest, these 90 shadow work journal prompts can help you do the inner child healing. You can use this as a 90 day journaling challenge, or you can do 2 journal prompts a day. You don’t even have to do them all! You could pick out the ones that really call to you.

I don’t suggest doing all the prompts at once. It’s important to space them out because it can become emotionally exhausting.

Really use these prompts to help you connect with your shadow side, the side of you that needs love and healing. These journal prompts can trigger you so that’s something to be mindful of, but they will help you get to the root of your wound. Only use them if you feel ready.

90 Shadow Work Journal Prompts

I like to think of our wounds like a weed. In order to get rid of the weed you need to take out the root otherwise it’ll keep coming back. Your wounds are very similar. If you don’t get to the root problem of your wound, you will continue to get triggered until you finally allow yourself to heal the root of the issue.

I hope you found this helpful and I am sending you all of my love as you embrace this beautiful healing journey and break toxic cycles. 

Author: ellduclos

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