6 Steps of Shadow work – Tools to Help You Ease the Journey

what is shadow work how long it takes tips alone

Nothing to do with the shadows casted due to light, or physics. 

Shadow work is a whole other aspect of our inner development, digging deep, asking the tough questions and working our ourselves to be better. 

It’s a critical part of your spiritual awakening, your journey and inner development. It can be hard, upsetting and revealing, uncovering parts of your childhood and/or your family traits that can bring other issues to the surface. 

A bit like a pandora box.

Are you ready to open it? 

One thing to remember is that through shadow work, you come out the other end stronger. 

Although the process of shadow work can be challenging, uncovering traumas and dark parts of you, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel that will transform the way you look at life, the way you approach situations, and how you respond. 

It’s an eye-opening experience, even if somewhat painful.  

How to Do Shadow Work? 

Shadow work is all about digging deep and asking mindful questions that unravel the darker parts of us. 

There are a number of factors that can help with your shadow work. Depending on where your shadow comes from, the work and approach that uncovers your shadow may be different. 

If your shadow comes from a childhood trauma, that may involve tracing your footsteps back to when you were a child and analysing how the memories and experiences from your childhood affected your current character as an adult. 

What is Your Shadow? 

The shadow is a constant part of you. It’s your dark side, and one you have to get used to acknowledge, know that it’s there. Nobody is perfect, not many have had a perfect childhood and it would be difficult to find a person who’s suffered no traumas.

The shadow is a part of every human being. 

Once you acknowledge that your shadow is there, and is a part of you, you can then begin the unraveling process, and then the healing. 

what is shadow work how long it takes tips alone

The shadow can come out without us even knowing – when we’re angry and get snappy, when we’re depressed and get fed up with the little things in life. It’s like a cover up of the big issue that lies within. 

It’s our shadow’s way of saying: I’m here, ready to come out and this is my way of alerting you. 

Don’t ignore the signs. The ways in which the shadow can make itself known are: 

  • Lack of self awareness
  • Being overly guarded from other people
  • Negative thoughts
  • Fear
  • Not trusting yourself
  • Not being able to admit you are wrong 
  • Judgement of others and self 
  • Anger 
  • Insecurity
  • Lack of accountability
  • Victim mentality

Shadow work isn’t limited to just the above, it can become apparent through other ways as well, these are just a few common effects. 

The Importance of Self-Love

If you’re going to be diving into shadow work, you must remember that self-love and having a self-care ritual is going to be key. Shadow work can be daunting and reveal realisations that can be unsettling. 

If you have a self-love ritual, this can help with keeping you grounded and when times get tough, you can return to that feeling of self-love and recognising your worth before you spiral into self-sabotaging thoughts. 

Before you do any shadow work, list all the things you love about yourself. During times when shadow work is getting too much or you start to lose your feeling of self-worth, you can return to that list, read it and recognise your worth, love yourself, and appreciate that the shadow work is simply a stage you go through. 

what is shadow work how long it takes tips alone

To help, you can also write a statement to ground you during hard times, when shadow work gets too much or you feel alone. You can use the below, writing it in a journal or a post-it note displayed above your bed/desk: 

I am surrounded by people who love and appreciate me. I love myself and I know my worth. I am worthy of love and accept it every day. I recognise that my shadow work may get difficult and challenging at times, that simply means that it’s working. I am proud of myself. This is going to get easier. I love every part of me, including my shadow, as that’s what’s made me the person I am today. 

Ancestral/Family Behaviours 

Unresolved family traumas can be carried over to next generations. If one of your ancestors suffered a trauma, shame, guilt, great loss, hiding away their special “gifts”, those unresolved traumas are carried over to their children, and their children and so on, until they are acknowledged and resolved. 

To discover these traumas, you can look into your dreams and keep a dream journal to uncover the trauma, or dig into your family tree or meditate while speaking to your ancestors. 

Inner Child

Tell yourself what you needed to hear as a child. Childhood traumas are one of the most common origins of our shadow work. 

A very testing time that sets us up for how we respond to situations later in life as an adult. Bullying during childhood could result in being guarded and not being able to trust people, or if you’ve suffered abuse as a child, that could lead to lack of self-worth and abusive relationships, as that’s what our inner child is used to. 

Take a moment to acknwolgde any childhood traumas, any big events that happened. What did you need to hear as a child back then? 

Say it now, out loud, as if you were talking to your little, child self. 

Ego vs the Higher Self

The ego takes over when your judgment is clouded by jealousy, power, materialism or anger. It can affect our mentality and decision-making reaching irrational conclusions quickly, based on what we see in that moment. 

The Higher self helps us to see the big picture by focusing on the present moment. The higher self is grateful, friendly and open, humble, appreciates simplicity and is very tolerant. 

You need to identify when your ego takes over and learn from it. Observe it, examine it and let your ego go, focusing on what your Higher Self is telling you (your gut instinct.)


If you ever find yourself triggered by someone, or something they said, that simply points out to the issue that we need to heal from within. Contrastingly, when we’re not triggered by something, that means that we are understanding of the situation, of the person. 

Triggers are a bit like mirrors – you may be triggered by a person that’s messy, or someone’s attitude. When you look deeper, recognise what’s triggered you, you can then recognise why this bothers you. 

Hear me out, stay open minded to this: the answer is because it’s a part of you, that you actually don’t like about yourself or a part that you feel you need to work on. 

The triggers that set us off, make us react with emotion. The emotion is a strong attachment to that aspect, mostly anger. 

Let me give an example: my trigger is Ben leaving clothes on the floor, leaving stuff all around and not putting them back in the right place. Does it really matter?

Not really, yet I get angry and these things trigger me because my mom used to always tell me that I’m a messy person and that we need to put things back where they belong to keep the house tidy. 

Admit Your Bad Habits

Take a moment to analyse your bad habits, if you need to, list them in your journal. What do they say about you?

These bad habits can be pointers to your shadow, the aspects that set you off and that help cover up your shadow. To stop you dealing with your shadow, or a bad day triggered by something unknown, you reach for a drink or some comfort food. 

Time to put those snacks and cocktails away and analyse – why are you reaching for those quick fi solutions? What made you react this way in the first place? Is this habit going to make you feel better in the long run?

Recognise your bad habits, and trace your steps back to their origin, where they’ve come from. 

Can You Do Shadow Work Alone

Yes, absolutely. Shadow work is all about you, how you respond, how you act, how you think. You know yourself better than anyone. 

Your experiences, traumas, what you’ve been through. It can be an empower experience to go through shadow work by yourself and start the healing process. 

If you feel that the process is a bit lonely, you can share you experiences and feelings with someone you trust. You an also get a journal and keep track of your progress. 

When you feel like you’re getting nowhere, you can read back your earlier entries and see how much progress you’ve made. 

How Long Does Shadow Work Take

It can take a few weeks, to a few months, to even years. It all depends on how deep your tiggers and traumas go and how long it takes you to acknowledge them, and then how long it takes to heal them. 

It’s a long process, a journey. Take your time, as much as you need and be gentle with yourself. 

Buddha Groove Jewelry

Shadow Work Questions / Prompts

Here are some prompting questions you can ask yourself and answer, to help you uncover your shadow: 

  • What big/life-changing events did you go through in your childhood?
  • What are your worst memories from childhood that stick out? 
  • What did you child-self need to hear during times when you were upset or angry? 
  • What triggers your anger? 
  • What makes you upset? Why?
  • What bad habits do you have? What triggers those bad habits? 
  • What self-sabotaging thoughts do you think/have?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you like yourself as a person? If lower than 6, why? And what do you think you need to work on?
  • Do you feel worthy? Why? 
  • Do you feel loved? By whom? 
  • What patterns can you notice based on your relationships with others? 
  • What are your biggest fears? e.g. rejection, abandonment 
  • Do you trust people? Why?

what is shadow work how long it takes tips alone

Tools for Shadow Work

To help with your shadow work journey, you can use tools and resources to help you along the way. I find that crystals and journaling helps me a lot. Give the below a try: 

Crystalsuse them during meditation sessions, when connecting with ancestors and wear them on you every day during the process. Remember to cleanse them so that you don’t carry around the negative energy with you. 

Black tourmaline for protection

Rose quartz for self-love 

Cacaoopens up the heart, increases happy hormones and creates a feeling of warmth and happiness. 

Smudging wands / cleansing herbs – to cleanse your aura, room and crystals. 

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