Trauma is an umbrella term covering our emotional response to terrible events like accidents, assaults, or natural disasters. There can be as many versions of trauma as there are people on this planet.
Psychologists classify trauma by its severity, but for some, even the mildest of traumas can have devastating consequences. In most people, the initial response to trauma would be shock, numbness, confusion, anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, and more, not exactly in the same order.
They say that time is the best healer. As days go by, most of the initial reactions to trauma will abate. Then comes the time for rumination, regrets, guilt, and self-reproach. As life moves ahead, the traumatic memories are pushed as far away into the back of the mind as possible. Often they end up in the subconscious as part of the shadow self.
Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind. From these obscure corners of the subconscious, these memories will continue to create troubles for you, without you even being aware of it. The shadow enjoys the protection of anonymity as it resides in the subconscious.
If you really want to free yourself from the torment of the trauma, you need to fish out those memories from the subconscious and make peace with them. Once these memories remain with the conscious mind, you know what you are dealing with.
You can accomplish all these and more with shadow work.
Shadow work journaling can help you identify the traits and memories you once disowned or are ashamed of. If you are planning to handle the shadow work on your own, your best chance at success is by making use of journal prompts.
Shadow work journal prompts are designed to pick and prod your mind and shake things up in your mind. It guides you to think along specific paths and reach where you are supposed to reach. For a person suffering from post-traumatic disorders, shadow work exercises with prompts can be immensely helpful.
Here are some shadow work prompts specifically designed to bring out the negative elements in your shadow related to trauma.
Shadow Work Journal Prompts for Trauma and Mental Wounds
- Where in the body do you feel the impact of negative emotions? Can you connect these emotions with a past traumatic episode? What are you doing to let go of these troubling emotions?
- Do you suffer from childhood trauma? How is it affecting you as an adult? Do you think you should have outgrown this episode from your early days? Now, what can you do about it?
- Do you blame yourself for the incident that resulted in your trauma? Why would you consider such a possibility?
- Do you take time out to feel the pain and sadness when things go awry in your life? Explain your answer.
- Do you remember being disappointed in your childhood? Describe an incident that still stays in your memory vividly. Do you have any idea why this particular incident stands out for you?
- Do you tend to always expect the worst to happen to you? Do you think this has anything to do with your past traumatic incident?
- Are you in the habit of using alcohol, smoking, or drugs to dampen the pain in your life? Do you think this is working for you? Have you considered the consequences of your habit? If this is not effective, why are you sticking with it?
- What are the painful memories and emotions that you are running away from? Do you think running away can resolve your problems? Have you ever considered other options?
- Do you think you can feel the hurtful emotions and then release them? Have you attempted this? If you have done this before, did it improve your mental health? If not, why are you resisting the opportunity to resolve the matter?
- Are you an animal lover? Are you in favor of keeping pets? Do you love them? Do you think they can be as good or better companions than human beings?
- Do you feel like a victim? Have you ever analyzed your state of mind? What makes you feel like a victim? Do you accept this because you are benefiting from it?
- Do you hold a grudge against your parents or guardians for your upbringing? Give more details.
- Would you consider your childhood positive or negative? When you think back, what is the general mood in those memories?
- What do you remember the most from your childhood days? Recount at least 2-3 incidents. Are these happy or sad memories? Or do they make you uneasy?
- What have you done to deal with your past trauma? Have you ever tried therapy or self-care? Do you think you have gotten over the trauma? If not, what do you plan to do about it in the future?
- What have you learned from your experience in dealing with trauma in the past? Do you think you are well-prepared to deal with them in the future?
- Do you have trouble with emotions that refuse to leave you alone? What do you do about the emotions that linger longer in your mind than they are supposed to? Have you tried self-care and self-love to drive them away?
- Next time when you are having trouble with negative emotions, embrace them and feel them, instead of running away from them. Did this make you feel better? Would you like to follow this approach more often? Explain why.
- Go back in time 5 years and remember who and where you were? If allowed a second chance, would you prefer to take a different path? Do you think you are wiser now and would have made better choices? Tell your younger self not to make the same mistakes that you did.
- Do you think you need to set boundaries for yourself? Is that because you consider yourself weak and can’t control yourself? Or is it because boundaries help you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself?
- Can you remember a few instances from the past week when you displayed your mental strength? Describe the incidents. Were you surprised by your reaction or is it the norm?
- Have you ever tapped on your inner strength to deal with trauma? If yes, how was your experience? If not, why have you not tried this? Would you like to try it now?
- Do you feel the trauma in your physical body? Where exactly do you feel it the most? Does it make the whole experience worse? How do you deal with all these?
- How do you deal with the feelings of the wounded inner child in yourself? If your inner child is reaching out to you for help, how would you respond? If your inner child wants to experience an emotion, would you indulge it?
- Is there someone in your support system who can relate to what you are going through? Make a list of all those people whom you can approach for help. Add your own name to the list.
- Do you hesitate to ask for help? Is it because you cannot find anyone who can relate to your problems? If you are unable to find anyone, would you reach out for professional help? Make a list of the steps you are adopting to heal yourself from the traumatic experience.
- Do you consider yourself bold and brave? Recall a few instances when these attributes of yours were on display.
- Do you think you have come out a winner after going through difficult times? Do you think you can use your experience to help others? Or even use it to inspire others to overcome their own troubles.
- Do you have bad dreams or nightmares about the trauma you experienced? Is it the same dream again and again? How traumatic are the dreams for you?
- Is your past trauma casting its shadow on your relationship? How bad is it? Are you taking the initiative to limit the damage?
You would be surprised how much muck you can unearth from the depths of your mind by asking pinpointed questions. Once you have worked with these shadow work journal prompts, it is up to you to deal with all the undesirable things unraveled during the shadow work.
Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. It is always ideal to keep the troublemakers in plain sight. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can figure a way out of the mess you find yourself in. Shadow healing is vital to a happy and fulfilling life.