Are you looking for the best shadow work exercises and techniques for beginners?
We have a list of 10+ exercises that can help a beginner express their shadow side. But before we get into that, we need to make sure you understand a few things.
What is the shadow and what is shadow work?
The shadow is the side of yourself that’s disconnected and unfelt. It’s the part of yourself that’s been rejected since childhood and you have no awareness of.
Shadow Work is integrating the entire spectrum of your being. It’s the intentional process of admitting the parts of yourself you’ve ignored and repressed.
What does the inner shadow want?
All your shadow wants is to be honored and its desires validated. But because much of what it wants isn’t socially appropriate, you aren’t able to nourish its demands 24/7.
For example, your shadow has a natural desire towards sadomasochism, power, destruction, and sexuality. But if you ran around doing all of these things willy-nilly you would quickly find yourself behind bars.
Instead, you need healthy outlets to express these desires safely. That’s why I’ve done some research and found several shadow work exercises and techniques a beginner can do to validate their unconscious shadow.
13 shadow work exercises & techniques for beginners
Read Books – By reading books you are vicariously living through fiction, or indulging your shadow’s desire for knowledge in a field of your interest. For example, when I first discovered The 48 Laws of Power as a teenager I found it intrinsically attractive. The book enthralled me because it was full of truth; it was a direct reflection of my home life.
Have a laugh – Laughter happens when your ego and shadow come into agreement. It’s the implicit understanding that you (both) take joy in a sadistic act. Watch your favorite stand-up comedians and pay special attention to the jokes that make you laugh. With enough self-inquiry, you can pin down the type of sadistic you are.
Be useless (if you are a workaholic) – People who are workaholics have a compulsive need to be productive. They tend to be judgmental towards others who aren’t doing more with their lives. However, the reason they are judgmental is that this quality is within themselves as well, contained in their shadow, but they reject it. Spend a weekend or two not doing anything productive, make yourself temporarily useless and you will find yourself to be happier.
Embrace solitude (if you have dependency issues) – People who have dependency issues have a compulsive need to spend all of their free time with other people to make their life “feel meaningful”. These people actively seek to make cameo appearances in other people’s lives instead of being a protagonist in their own life. Spend a weekend or two completely alone, and when you feel lonely, lean into it as much as you can until you learn to make peace with it.
Dream interpretation – Attempt to understand the meaning of your dreams, then honor the message for about a week. It’s easy to not honor the message because it doesn’t feel like you’re making a promise with anyone to honor it. It’s nothing your shadow isn’t already used to. But at least try. If you’re like me and you rarely dream, if at all, find ways to get yourself to dream. I find that drinking an energy drink past 2PM will cause me to dream that night. But the triggers are different for everyone.
Writing – When the words seem to flow out of your hands, this is the unconscious delivering a message through you. It already knows what you want to say and it’s in agreement with you. The payoff of this agreement is flow. You can also engage in shadow work journal prompts for intentional self-inquiry.
Affirmations – By saying affirmations aloud you will hold yourself accountable. You can also shove your assertions into your subconscious by brute repetition. This is not what I’m referring to. When you speak a deep truth within yourself you will feel sensations within. These sensations are indeed an indication you’ve spoken a deep truth that your shadow agrees with. Take the time to make affirmations that stir you on a deeper level.
Practice stoic premeditation – Premeditation is broadly visualizing and accepting the worst possibilities that can happen to you. When I do this I imagine my house being burned down, losing my family, my car, and being shamed where I seek help. I know the practice is successful when I feel a “centeredness” in the pit of my stomach. Afterward I am more relaxed and more approachable to people around me. This is because I am indirectly validating my shadow’s destructive fantasies.
Competition – You can express the desire to dominate through sports, gaming, whatever. All that matters is that you engage and release any pent-up aggression. Sure you can learn a lot by losing (cute). But winning is what really pleases the inner shadow.
Learn to fight – Take a class, learn to fight. Knowing how to hurt others and protect yourself aligns closer to your shadow’s desires.
Criticize others (in a safe environment) – By speaking out your opinions and what you truly think, you are honoring yourself. Badmouth others who you don’t agree with. But it’s best not to share these opinions with others. That can hurt you in the long run. Instead, you can make a practice of spending 10 minutes alone to state aloud every judgment you’ve made about a person, both good and bad. This helps relieve tension and builds a better understanding of others.
Express Gratitude – Express gratitude for everything in your life. Especially what you might consider lousy. Everything you have in your life is, especially what you find lousy, is thanks to your unconscious shadow. When you celebrate these experiences you will validate your shadow. Imagine it’s somebody’s birthday and you completely ignore them and don’t celebrate it. That person is going to hold it against you. That’s how your shadow behaves. Celebrate your entire life and it will no longer hold it against you. You’ll begin to make the insights you need to make a proper change soon thereafter.
Create stuff – The ability to affect others is a very controlled sadistic expression. Sometimes this means creating content, art, business, relationships, etc. Your life is your canvas and by imposing your will through creation, you are validating the unconscious desire for control.
– Last note on shadow work exercises for beginners –
Shadow work exercises for beginners are typically general and universal. You won’t be doing much in terms of self-inquiry. You won’t develop a deeper understanding of who you are.
Instead, you are allowing your shadow to express itself. You are simply following your interests or doing something that you typically wouldn’t do. Which is still very important!
You are releasing inner tension from the responsibilities of daily life by expressing the shadow. Just don’t expect to learn more about yourself by doing beginner exercises.
Except for some activities like the shadow work journal prompts – which I consider as the intermediate bridge between unintentional and intentional.
Are you ready to get into advanced shadow work? Check out the Shadow Work Course here.