Most of us have this innate tendency to hold on to things we come across in our lives. It can be behavioral traits, thoughts and feelings, the past, worries, junk, and most of all relationships. Even when we are aware of how wasteful or harmful they are, we are reluctant to let them go.
Why? Why are we so resistant to change and hesitant to embrace new learnings and beginnings?
By holding on to things and not letting them go, you are losing the opportunity to free yourself of unnecessary or toxic stuff. Moreover, you are also missing out on exciting possibilities. You may never know how these new beginnings would have changed your life because you never got around to trying them.
More than missed opportunities, it is the toxic things that create more trouble for you. When you refuse to let go of negative thoughts and emotions, you are setting yourself on the path of destruction. Negativity tends to attract more negativity. If you do nothing to get rid of them, they continue to accumulate, leading you to an almost certain breakdown at a future date.
As important as letting go is forgiveness. Usually, they stay together. When you can manage to let go of the hurt, you will be in the frame of mind to forgive the perpetrator. You will also find it difficult to forgive without letting go.
When we understand the importance of forgiveness and letting go, why do we hesitate? The reasons can be as many as there are people in this universe. While for some it is sentimental attachment, the comfort of familiarity and the fear of the unknown, others may be obsessed with the idea that letting go is as good as condoning the misdeeds of the perpetrator.
They believe that their pain will constantly remind them of the mistreatment and injustice they endured. They believe that this pain will act as a protective shield and protect them from further harm. Also, by not letting go, they think they are punishing the perpetrator.
All these thoughts and reasons for not letting go may sound good and reasonable in the short run. However, as days go by, you will be left behind by a world that is constantly moving forward. And you experience more punishment as a consequence of this decision than the perpetrator.
Is it worth all the trouble? Instead of stewing in this pot full of negativity and suffering the consequences, you can just free yourself from all the problems by letting go and forgiving.
How to let go the right way?
Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, has the answer. Shadow work. This is the perfect tool in analytical psychology to understand what you are going through and purge your mind of negative emotions.
The best news is that you can do shadow work on your own with journaling prompts. Prompts for shadow work are inquisitive questions meant to dig deep into your own mind and figure out what is troubling you. Once you have a clear picture, the shadow work journal prompts will point you toward the right solution.
This article lists some insightful journaling prompts to help you get rid of everything troubling you. These shadow work journal prompts also nudge you to forgive and forget and urge you to start afresh.
Shadow Work Journal Prompts of Forgiveness and Letting Go
- Do you think you have undesirable emotions and experiences pent up inside your mind? Are they making you unhappy and uncomfortable? What would you like to do with them? Would you like to let them go? How can you achieve this?
- Are you taking steps to release the unwanted emotions and experiences that have been tormenting you for a while now? Once you are rid of them, how do you expect to feel? Are you looking forward to this?
- You are aware of the presence of unpleasant emotions and memories haunting you and making your life miserable. What are you planning to do with them? Have you considered how your life would be if you do nothing about them? Is that the kind of life you want to live?
- “How can I feel grateful when so many bad things happened to me? How can I believe that the world is a beautiful place and there is lots of love to go around?” Is that how your thoughts go? Do you think there is nothing in your life to feel grateful about? Dig deeper and make a list of all the love and positive happenings in your life.
- Do you blame yourself when things go downhill? Do you think you are too harsh on yourself? Have you ever tried to forgive yourself for your lapses? Can you envisage your future either way – holding on to the grudges and forgiving the mistakes? Which is the better option?
- Do you think blaming yourself is helping you or anyone else in any way? Isn’t it easier to forgive and let go? Why do you feel the need to be so unforgiving?
- So, you ended up in a toxic relationship. Are you blaming yourself solely for the debacle? Don’t you think you need to show more kindness and compassion towards yourself? Don’t you think you have learned your lesson and isn’t that a good enough takeaway?
- Are you ready to forgive yourself but don’t know how? Write yourself a letter detailing all that you want to tell yourself. State clearly and emphatically that you forgive yourself. Once you finish writing the letter, read it back to yourself. How does this make you feel?
- Do you hold a grudge against someone and are not sure how to patch things up? Write a letter to this person, saying all that you want to tell them. Do remember that when you forgive someone, you are doing yourself a favor. You may hand over the letter to the person or send it. Or you can even destroy it. In the end, how does it make you feel?
- Do you think you are living in the past and ignoring what is happening in the present? Do you know that this way you are missing out on all the good things in life? How do you propose to let go of the past and embrace the present?
- Do you have any regrets in life? What is the biggest of them all? How much did this affect your life? Which do you think harmed you more – the incident that you regret or living with the regret? Isn’t it time you accepted it as a fact of life and moved on?
- How do you deal with regrets? Do you ignore them or ponder on them? Can’t you consider making peace with them, accepting them, and moving on in life? Answer in detail.
- Have you ever wronged others? What is your worst mistake in a relationship? Do you have any explanation for it? How do you feel about it now? Do you have regrets? Have you made amends or would you like to make amends?
- Do your bad deeds haunt you? Do you regret your actions? What have you done to make amends? Are they still tormenting you? Do you think you should do more to bring peace of mind?
- Among all the relationships you have had in your life, which one would you rate as the worst? Do you feel hurt by what happened? What is the takeaway from it?
- Do you hold any grudges against anyone? What is the back story? Why are you holding on to it? Why can’t you let it go and move on in life?
- Do you find it easier to forgive yourself than others for the same mistakes? Explain your answer.
- Do you find it easier to forgive others than yourself for the same mistakes? Explain your answer.
- Make a list of all your serious wrongdoings. How bad do you think it is? Pick the worst among them. Tell your side of the story. Have you done anything to make amends?
- Do you find it hard to forgive yourself and move on when you make mistakes? How hard do you punish yourself? Is this a healthy thing to do? How do you propose to make amends?
- How hard do you come down on yourself every time you commit a mistake? Are you aware of its negative consequences? Do you have any plans to improve your behavior?
- Are you aware of your limiting beliefs? Everyone has limiting beliefs and mental blocks. You just need to dig deeper to find them. The best way to identify them is to think of a past incident when you wanted something but did not achieve it for no valid reason. It is the limiting belief that prevents you from succeeding. Make a list of all that you could find. What do you plan to do about them?
- What kind of toxic emotions do you have? Can you feel it in your body? Where exactly? Can you figure out where you can feel the effects of resentment? How does it feel? What are you planning to do about them?
- Can you feel resentment lurking in the dark corners of your mind? Can you feel it in your physical body as well? Can you imagine how it would feel when you can finally manage to get rid of it?
- Have you noticed your habit of blaming others for your mistakes? Don’t you think it is important to take responsibility for your words and actions instead of throwing others under the bus? How can you make this transformation possible?
- You can feel your heart overflowing with love. What do you want to do with this feeling? Can you figure out the people worthy of your love? Make a list and explain why these people made the list.
- When you scan the people in your close circle, do you find anyone who is in desperate need of more affection, care, and support? Are you willing to give them what they need? Do you think you have it in you to meet the needs of this person?
- Among all the relationships you have, do you find one or more that are too unhealthy and toxic that they are beyond repair? What are you planning to do with these relationships? Don’t you think it is better to make a clean break and part amicably? Isn’t it time for you to move on?
- Have you been avoiding a person, situation, or topic because it is too distressing? Don’t you want to find a resolution to this problem once and for all? How do you think you can proceed to deal with this?
- Have you ever felt hurt by a person or a situation? And do you find it hard to move past it because the wound is still open? Are you expecting apologies and amends from others that are not forthcoming? Do you think there is any point in dragging this any further as you are suffering? What do you think is the way out of this dilemma for you?
Shadow work can be daunting when you are doing it on your own. When you sit down with a pen in hand and a fresh page open in the journal, your mind tends to go blank. When you have shadow work prompts ready on hand, you will never face writer’s block. Your thoughts and feelings will flow out as words without hesitation.
Shadow work journal prompts can make the impossible possible. After clearing away all the dirt and cobwebs from your mind, you will emerge as a new person, happy with yourself and the world.