shadow self photo

Recently, I took a step back to consider my mental health and what I can do to improve it. I was always too caught up with work, school, and personal life to think about myself and my mental health. I wanted to do the ultimate self-care that cares for your mental self and anything that comes with that. For myself, it was to heal past wounds from childhood, toxic relationships and life-based trauma. I saw a video on TikTok about shadow work and its benefits, so I decided to give it a try. Shadow work consists of exploring the unknown side of your subconscious mind and empathizing with yourself to grow emotionally and begin to heal.

There are different prompts available online, and if you have the opportunity to speak to a licensed therapist, they could also provide you with some prompts. I googled various terms to find prompts that resonated with me and that I would be comfortable with writing. What you write in response to the prompts is meant to be private unless you decide to share them with someone. The journey through shadow work is brutal because it takes an emotional toll on you, so it is crucial to consider that when beginning the journey and deciding when you have had enough. It can uncover many repressed feelings and suppressed memories that you thought never existed in the first place.

I decided to use a journal I had already written in when venting about my emotions a few months ago. I will be able to see my emotional growth and awareness by going back through my journal later. I had to prepare myself for the shadow work, but in the end, I was never really ready to face it. It did break a part of me that would eventually release the wounded child I had in me all these years. It was liberating to allow myself the space to feel those emotions and face no consequences for being vulnerable. That is the beauty of doing shadow work because you create your own safe space to be vulnerable and allow yourself to validate your feelings.

Some prompts became too much for me, but I felt the need to push through the emotions and speak my truth, even if it was just for myself. After having your feelings invalidated for so long, especially by yourself, there comes a breaking point for how much you can hold in before you fall apart. After writing for a few weeks, many things became more apparent and have improved how I perceive myself and my relationships with others. I revealed certain habits and coping mechanisms I developed to protect myself from an emotional standpoint. By revealing those habits, I adjusted them to no longer compromise on my mental health. It has improved my relationships with my friends and my boyfriend. We don’t often take the time to reflect on ourselves and how we have grown emotionally, but we should. We always take the time to reflect on school grades, finances, and career growth; we should start considering ourselves too.

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