100 Shadow Work Exercises: Making the Unconscious Conscious & Growing Real


Shadow Work Will Set You Free of ‘Yourself’

If you’re on a journey to improve your life and to step away from the VOID and a sense that there’s an itch that can never be scratched, then you’re eventually going to have to face your SHADOW SELF.

To quote Shadow Life: Freedom from BS in an Unreal World:

“Your Shadow is all of the things, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, that you’ve denied about yourself and hidden beneath the surface of the mask you forgot that you’re wearing.”

The “mask” that you forgot that you’re wearing is your EGO – the fragmented version of yourself that denies and disowns parts of your REAL SELF that have been deemed as being “unacceptable” in some way by the external world.

We put this mask on because of shame, guilt, and/or trauma that makes us feel like we have to hide who we really are in order to keep ‘surviving’ whatever we’ve been through in the past (though the more we attach to these methods of surviving, the less likely we are to thrive in the future as we get lost in reacting to life instead of responding to it).

Because these hidden parts are REAL, then then never go anywhere – they’re always there whispering (and eventually screaming) at us from beneath the surface of our lives and inviting us to come back home to a place of realness and wholeness so that we can finally live the lives we were born to live.

Until we’ve started to really integrate our Shadow, there will always be a state of disharmony or misalignment between the actions that we take and their capacity to take us deep into real life.

When I’m working with my clients, we normally end up going through a process of AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE, and ACTION:

Awareness = deconstructing the ego so that we can see where it’s holding us back and giving us opportunities to get out of our own way and invite the flow back into our lives.

Acceptance = going with the flow once we’ve stepped aside so that we can truly accept ourselves, the world, and reality itself deeply (including the parts that we’re previously hidden/locked away behind ego because of the SHADOW DANCE that unfolds as ego and shadow battle each other for control of our lives).

Action = taking INSPIRED action once we’ve cultivated a strong foundation of acceptance in our live and learning to do what we can and then trusting life to fill in the blanks.

(“Do your best and forget the rest”).

This is more of a cycle than a linear process because we can always go DEEPER into wholeness. As long as we’re making the unconscious conscious and ensuring that all of the REAL parts of us are pointing in the same direction – instead of tearing us apart – then we’re making progress in life and will start to see evidence in the form of results that show us we’re on the right path.

The rest of this article contains 100 Shadow Work Exercises so that you can start to really listen to your Shadow and reunite yourself with some of the truths about you that are essential for moving forward in a real way.

The whole point is to uncover some of the messages from your shadow (unconscious mind) so that you can reconfigure your self-image/ego (conscious mind) and ensure that they are both pointing in the same direction.

(One reason a lot of people struggle in life and keep sabotaging themselves is because there’s disharmony between what they keep telling themselves consciously and what they really want at the level of their unconscious – this is why many people ‘sabotage’ themselves).

Choose whatever of these exercises ‘call’ to you and then do them in your own way.  Don’t overthink it. Just do what needs to be done.

The whole point of any of these exercises is to get things MOVING again – there is always a natural flow towards wholeness but we end up blocking it when we resist or distort our relationship with our shadow. This is what causes friction, frustration, misery, and STRESS in our lives in many many cases.

The idea is to start communicating with your unconscious mind so that you can embrace the truth it holds and start to live it in a conscious, controlled, and more aligned way.

There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do any of these exercises – it’s all about acquiring INSIGHT that frees you from the prison of EGO and gets you flowing again.

Get in touch with me at any time if you have any questions or want to go even deeper.

100 Shadow Work Exercises

NameBasic ExplanationSteps to Perform
1. JournalingWrite about fears, insecurities, and regrets.Set aside time daily or weekly to write without censoring your thoughts or emotions.

The only aim is to face these negative feelings head on and to let them dissolve.   Prompt: “What do I need to LET GO of?”

2. Inner Child WorkConnect with your inner child to heal past wounds.Visualise or write a letter to your younger self, offering love and reassurance.

Prompt: “How can I help my inner child move towards ACCEPTANCE?”
3. Letter WritingExpress unresolved feelings or ‘stuff’ to people from the past (unsent letters).Write letters expressing your feelings to people that you have unresolved ‘stuff’ with, even if you don’t send them.
4. Mirror WorkConfront your reflection and practice self-acceptance.Look into a mirror, speak affirmations, or have a dialogue with yourself. Tell yourself what you’re really thinking and learn to LET GO of any judgement.

5. Dream AnalysisAnalyse dreams for hidden emotions and patterns.Keep a dream journal and reflect on recurring themes or symbols.   ‘

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer about what these themes and symbols mean but what you think they mean tells you a lot about what’s calling to you from your shadow self.  

Fox Mulder (yeah, from the X-files) said that “dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.”  

This quote sums up how dreams can really help us to understand what our SHADOW is trying to tell us.
6. Emotional ReleaseAllow yourself to feel and express emotions fully.Find a space to cry, scream, howl, shout, or express emotions through art or movement.  

As the old saying goes “emotions are e-motion, energy in motion” – we have to let them MOVE in order to let them pass and to integrate them.  

The only ‘thing’ that can block them is the mental ‘stuff’ of the ego and so if we can find healthy ways to release we can allow the unconscious and conscious to start moving together again (instead of tearing us apart).
7. MeditationObserve thoughts and emotions without judgement.Practice mindfulness meditation, focusing on the breath and observing sensations.  

People make meditation complicated and complex but all you really need to do is close your eyes and focus on your breath.   If you notice your attention turns to your thoughts then return it to your breath.  

Breathe through your nose (nose breathing has so many benefits it’s unbelievable).   If you like, you can inhale for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and then exhale for five seconds.  
8. Body ScanNotice physical sensations to uncover emotions.Lie down or sit comfortably and scan your body from head to toe, noticing tension or discomfort.   The keyword here is TENSION.  

Tension in our bodies often affects our mental state which makes us even more ‘rigid’ in our thinking about things – this further entrenches us in ego.

Learn to STRETCH (go on Youtube – there’s loads of great routines), do yoga, or invest in a foam roller.    
9. Art TherapyExpress feelings through art (painting, drawing).Create art without worrying about the outcome, focusing on self-expression.  

Allow the unconscious to become conscious through the creative process (our creative drives are often a ‘call’ from the shadow self to start integrating a disowned part or to release some emotion that’s blocking us).

Check out my podcast Creative Status which explores how creativity is a vehicle for growing REAL by deconstructing ego, integrating shadow, and learning to trust life.
10. Shadow DialogueHave a conversation with your shadow self.Write a dialogue between yourself and your shadow, exploring fears and doubts or any other messages that need to swim up from the surface.  

Again, you don’t have to overthink this – whatever you ‘imagine’ your shadow self to be communicating with you is going to hold some truth if you can let go of self-censorship and let the process of writing just flow.
11. Forgiveness PracticePractice forgiving yourself and others.Reflect on past hurts and practice forgiveness through writing or meditation.  

Forgiveness always takes us deeper into ACCEPTANCE because it’s about letting go of ego distortion and resistance and seeing things more clearly.

If we find it hard to forgive it means that we’re clinging to our resentment because it’s allowing us to stay attached to the ego and avoid some unresolved shadow ‘stuff’.
12. Shadow JournalingWrite about hidden aspects of yourself.Journal about traits or experiences you keep hidden from others.  

Increasing awareness of the parts you consciously hide from the world and embracing them will start to make room for some of the parts you’re not aware of yet to start coming through the cracks.
13. Timeline ExplorationReflect on significant life events.Create a timeline of your life and explore how events have shaped you.  

Prompt: “How did significant life events either cause you to go into hiding or allow something REAL to reveal itself about you?”
14. Role ReversalGain empathy by considering others’ perspectives.Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and reflect on their viewpoint.  

Explore relationships where you still have something to LET GO of in order to move forward and ask yourself how things might seem from the POV of the other person (or people).  

Remember that there are three sides to every story:   Your side, Their side, & The TRUTH.

How can moving towards the truth help you to bring your shadow into the light?
15. Creative WritingExpress inner struggles and make the unconscious conscious through storytelling.Write stories (or poems if you must) that explore your emotions and experiences and allow you to get a better sense of perspective around them.  

The characters in your stories are always a reflection of some aspect of yourself.   You can put them in situations that will allow you to take yourself through a kind of catharsis that will lead you to healing (releasing what needs to be LET GO of and integrating what needs to be owned as you go from fragmentation to WHOLENESS).  

Like dreams, your stories can also help you to understand what your unconscious is trying to tell you through themes and symbols.
16. Music TherapyUse music to access and express emotions.Listen to music that resonates with your feelings and allow emotions to surface.  

This is relatively easy and simple but it comes back to the idea that emotions are “energy in motion”: the power of good music is that it carries us where we need to go (if we can let go and let it).
The style of music that ‘calls’ to you will no doubt tell you a lot about what you’re trying to process beneath the surface of yourself.  

Experiment with different genres and styles and see what really ‘clicks’ or pulls you in a direction you need to move in.
17. Mindful WalkingConnect with nature and observe your thoughts – try to step beyond them.Take a walk in nature, focusing on each step and observing your surroundings as though you’re an INHERENT PART of them (because you are).  

A lot of the time, when we talk about the Shadow, we frame the conversation only in terms of our own ‘personal’ unconscious but, actually – because of social programming and conditioning – there’s a lot of shadow aspects that are from our NATURE itself.  

One of these deep shadow aspects is the natural connection that we share to life and nature as a whole and our place within its flow.   One reason so many people feel the VOID is because they’ve become detached from this.

Mindful walking can help you to have a peak experience and remind you of your true identity in wholeness.
18. Shadow DrawingExpress and connect to shadow aspects through drawing.Draw an image representing your shadow self – as in, literally draw your shadow.  

What does it look like? What does it tell you about yourself?  

Once again, there’s no need for self-censorship with this exercise – be audacious enough to allow yourself to just draw whatever comes up and see what it tells you about yourself as you make the unconscious conscious.
19. Scream TherapyRelease pent-up emotions through (extreme) vocalisation.Find a private space (ideally out in nature somewhere) and scream – allowing whatever emotions need to be released.  

You might not think you have anything to scream about but once you let loose there’s a good chance you might surprise yourself.  

I actually ended up doing this exercise spontaneously one night with a girl I know up in the hills – we both thought it was stupid (but funny) to scream into the abyss at first but by the time we were done something had definitely shifted (and we lost our voices).  

There’s something primal that needs to be let out of most of us. If you’re feeling ‘brave’ then go give it a shot (emotions are energy in motion like we keep saying).
20. Boundary SettingAssert boundaries and prioritise self-care and self-respect.The easiest way to start undoing your conditioning (ego) is to start saying “NO” when it will serve you and your growth to do so (not in a selfish way – in a REAL way).  

So many people are locked inside themselves and hesitate and hold back on their true place in life because they have boundary issues.   This is ultimately caused by unresolved SHAME that makes them believe they don’t have a right to protect their peace.  

When you start saying “NO” to the unreal situations and relationships in your life then you make space for the REAL stuff to creep back in (which means your shadow is becoming integrated and your ego is being reconfigured to stop blocking your path towards wholeness).
21. BreathworkUse breath to release tension and emotions.Practice deep breathing exercises to calm the mind and body.  

Nose breathing has already been mentioned because of the many benefits in can provide (we are DESIGNED to be nose breathers not mouth breathers) and so training yourself to do this as much as possible – including taping your mouth when you sleep – can give you great presence and flow.  

Getting out of the EGO and into the realness of moving with our SHADOW and making the unconscious conscious almost always starts with getting back in our bodies instead of just living in our heads.  

Making regular space in your life to breathe consciously and release tension from your experience of yourself will feed into everything else you do.
22. Shadow DanceExpress repressed emotions through movement (again: emotions are energy in motion, e-motion).Dance freely, allowing your body to move without judgment.  

I’m not (too) ashamed to say that I sometimes blast some rock music and prance around my living room like a maniac.   Sometimes, you just have to let your body do what it needs to do.

Don’t worry about having ‘moves’ or anything like that – all you need to do is let yourself move.  

Note the tone of what you’re doing – is it joyful, angry, aggressive? What’s trying to get out?
23. Synchronicity JournalGain insights into subconscious patterns by ‘collecting’ synchronicities that you experience.I’ve found in my own life that the more I get in the flow of making the unconscious conscious, the more synchronicities I experience (coincidences that seem to astronomical to be just “meaningless coincidence”).  

For example, one time, I had a coaching client in my home office and I was explaining that when he left the session and walked out of the door he was going to be on the Train (living and focused on his purpose).  

At that very moment, the Italian coffee moka I had on the stove started to whistle exactly like a steam train (it had never done that before). We both looked at each other in disbelief because we both caught the synchronicity.

Staying open to synchronicity will give you even more experiences of it – journaling about these experiences and figuring out what it ‘mean’ can help you to understand what’s going on in the shadow that’s coming up to the light.
24. Nature ConnectionGround yourself in nature and its cycles.Spend time outdoors, connecting with the earth and its natural cycles and processes.  

This is similar to #17 Mindful Walking but the point is to really get a sense of how nature is constantly changing around us and just doing what it needs to do without any real ‘effort’ or force.  

These natural cycles of change and growth are something that we’re constantly engaged in too – the problem for us human beings is that we get so distracted and distanced from these cycles that we think we’re separate.  

Again, the consequence of this is that we IDENTIFY (EGO) as something separate – this causes our natural capacity for flow to be sent into the Shadow Territory.  

If we can get in touch with it, then we can loosen up and learn to let go of what’s beyond our control (ultimately, reconnecting us to our TRUST which is essential for a real life and growth into wholeness).
25. Stop worrying.Challenge limiting beliefs and affirm positivity.You can train yourself (believe it or not) to stop worrying and to take yourself out of the HAMSTER WHEEL of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that hold most people back.  

Worrying is ultimately USELESS because it’s about trying to change things you can’t control – on a deeper level, worrying is just a way for your ego to keep you where you don’t want to be.  

When you train yourself to stop worrying then you can stop blocking the natural drive towards wholeness as the unconscious becomes conscious.  

I have a free tool here (that I use with my coaching clients) that can help you to train yourself to stop negative / UNREAL thoughts in their tracks and shift to a focus on your vision instead.
26. Guided Visualisation & MeditationExplore your inner landscape through guided imagery.Follow guided meditations focusing on self-discovery and healing.  

This is similar to analysing your dreams except you can do it in a more conscious way and bring the unconscious (and the Shadow) to light through guided visualisations and meditations.  

The easiest thing to do is to go on YouTube and to search “Guided meditation/visualisation for [peace/stress/whatever]”.

I’ve had some really great experiences with this Kundalini Meditation (it’s a bit ‘out there’ for some people).    
27. Shadow SculptingExpress shadow aspects through tactile art.Create sculptures or collages representing your shadow self.  

This is similar to Exercise 18 but can take you deeper into it because of the choices you can make about materials etc.  

Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re ‘skilled’ or whatever – the point is that you’re doing this for yourself.
28. Fictional Character AnalysisExplore shadow aspects through literature.Analyse characters in literature that resonate with your shadow traits.  

This is a good reminder that the shadow doesn’t just contain things that are ‘bad’ but also – depending on what we’ve been through and been forced to disown – many of the ‘good’ things about us too (like our joy, spontaneity, affection, need for adventure etc.).  

If there’s a particular character in fiction that either appeals to you or repels you then there’s probably some shadow learning to be done:  

If they really appeal to you (like a superhero, for example) then probably some of your hidden strengths are being called to you.  

If they repel you, then there’s probably something in them that you don’t want to face about yourself (but if you do face it, you’ll free yourself as you move closer to wholeness).
29. Body MovementConnect mind and body through yoga or tai chi.Practice mindful movement, focusing on the sensations in your body.  

I do yoga every day and I can honestly attest that it’s changed my life by allowing me to release so much of the tension and pain in my body and mind and to get back on a real path.  

In the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ (an amazing book about trauma if you haven’t read it) the author Bessel van der Kolk shows that yoga is one of the best ways to become EMBODIED (i.e. get out of our minds and back into our bodies after a traumatic experience – though it works for non-traumatised people too).  

He also shows how yoga can regulate your nervous system so that you can feel a sense of calm.  

My belief and experience has shown me that the wider the gap between the ego and the shadow, the wider the gap between our mind and our body.  

Doing yoga (I recommend power yoga in the week and yin yoga on weekends) can really help you to close that gap and start integrating the shadow and moving towards wholeness.
30. Soul RetrievalReclaim lost parts of yourself from past traumas.Reflect on past wounds and how they caused you to become fragmented.

For example, maybe when you were a kid your parents shamed your dreams or ambitions and so you cut them off and sent them into the shadow territory.  

“Soul Retrieval” is just a fancy way of saying that you figure out what was ‘lost’ so that you can open up the process of going into the shadow territory to reclaim it.  

If these things are REAL, then you won’t have lost them completely – they’ll just be in hiding.    This is because WHAT’S REAL IS ALWAYS REAL.
31. Ancestral HealingHeal generational wounds and patterns.Explore your family history and its impact on your beliefs and behaviours.  

We usually become fragmented because of the fragmented people that brought us up and passed on their own shame (and pain) onto us because they weren’t ready to face it themselves.  

This isn’t because they were ‘bad’ people but because HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE and they had the same thing happen to them.  

If you look back through your family history and try to understand what pain has been passed down to you then you can finally star to release it (and thus free the shadow self to come back to the surface).
32. Gratitude PracticeCultivate gratitude for all aspects of yourself.Reflect on shadow traits or experiences and find gratitude for the lessons they offer.  

This is the key to growing REAL: cultivating UNCONDITIONAL SELF-ACCEPTANCE.  

The different parts of you may be things that can be labelled ‘good’ and ‘bad’ but these labels are just a way of making sense of ourselves and the world.  

In REALITY, these things are beyond the duality of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and just something that IS.  

(The thing that is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is what you CHOOSE to do with them).  

Being grateful for EVERY aspect of who we are frees us from the ego’s need to be perfect.   When we just accept that we are what we are then we have a solid foundation to truly grow and move towards wholeness.  

EVERYTHING about you has something to teach you about growing REAL – be grateful for these lessons and the opportunities that they bring.
33. Nature MandalaCreate mandalas using natural materials.Arrange natural objects in a circular pattern, symbolising inner harmony and wholeness.  

Carl Jung believed that mandalas emerged from the collective unconscious, representing archetypal patterns and universal truths that could help us to taste wholeness and to unify and integrate opposites.  

He also believed that the process of creating them could help us to understand what was going on with our unconscious minds and to make it conscious.
34. Shadow TheatreAct out inner conflicts and resolutions.Use drama or role-playing to explore shadow aspects and potential resolutions.  

One of the reasons that actors find their work to be ‘healing’ is because it allows them to face parts of themselves that they’ve become disconnected from so they can integrate them (and doing it in public gives them more ownership of these parts).  

There’s no reason why you can’t do the same thing in your own life – re-enact scenes from your past and rewrite them, play a different version of yourself for a day, etc.  

The point is to FEEL what you’ve become disconnected from so it can be integrated or to RELEASE what you’re holding onto that no longer serves you.  

If you have somebody you can trust then you can play with this idea together. Alternatively, join an acting group or something (depending on how serious you wanna get).
35. Archetype ExplorationIdentify and explore universal patterns within yourself.Recognise archetypal roles and their influence on your psyche.  

This is similar to the work with fictional characters but with common themes and archetypes from throughout history.  

If there are certain ‘types’ of character that appeal to you (for example, the ‘hero’, the ‘mentor’, the ‘damsel’) in movies, then maybe there’s some shadow ‘stuff’ going on in you waiting to be unleashed.  

Alternatively, you can go on an exploration of archetypes from ancient cultures and see what ‘speaks’ to you (in the Greek myths, etc.).  

As with most of these exercises, what you’re looking for is what these archetypes can teach you about what is hiding beneath the surface of your current way of living and identifying.

There’s always some TRUTH waiting to leak out.
36. Shadow YogaUse yoga poses for emotional release.Practice yoga sequences targeting areas of tension and blocked energy.   I already spoke a lot about yoga in #29 Body Movement but certain yoga poses will release certain emotions.

For example, it’s said (and I’ve experienced) that a lot of TRAUMA is stored in our hips and so some poses that target this area will spontaneously make people feel emotional or even start crying.  

YIN YOGA is a very deep and powerful form of yoga that can help with this kind of emotional release by asking us to hold the poses for a relatively long time (up to five minutes on average, I’d say).  

When holding the poses for this amount of time, we go deeper into them and our bodies LET GO and just do what they need to do.  This releases all kinds of ‘stuff’ and can be very powerful and healing.  

This is a really good Yin Yoga workout you can do at home.
37. Stream of Consciousness WritingExplore thoughts and feelings without judgment.Write continuously, allowing thoughts to flow without censorship.  

The best time to do this is either as soon as you’ve woken up or just before bed – generally, at these times, our conscious mind isn’t as active and there are less barriers to the unconscious mind just doing its ‘thing’.  

Unlike creative writing where you may have a fictional ‘theme’ etc. with this exercise you don’t have any idea what’s going to come out, you just let it.  

This is much easier if you don’t EXPECT anything or JUDGE (both ego blocks).   There’s always something waiting to come out so just TRUST and let it happen.  

You can either set a timer and write for [8 minutes] or set a target for a set number of pages.
38. Random Word AssociationMake associations to explore hidden emotions.Use random words as prompts for writing or reflection, allowing thoughts to surface naturally.  

The ‘trick’ here (with a lot of this ‘stuff’) is not to think – don’t answer the prompt with your conscious mind but with your unconscious mind (then reverse engineer what you come up with by allowing your conscious and unconscious to merge into one system).
39. Shadow PoetryExpress shadow aspects through poetry.Write poems that delve into darkness of the Shadow Territory, exploring hidden emotions and experiences.  

Once again, the Shadow contains both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities so it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.  

Whatever qualities you fear about yourself (including the tender ones like love etc.) can be brought to the surface by playing with poetry.  

(It doesn’t have to be a ‘good’ poem either – most poetry that’s ever been written is ‘bad’ lol).
40. Symbolic RitualsUse ceremony to symbolise letting go.Create rituals to mark transitions or release past traumas, using symbolic gestures.  

A common example is writing down something that you want to RELEASE and then setting whatever you’ve written on fire. 

This is very dramatic maybe but also very symbolic and your UNCONSCIOUS MIND WORKS IN SYMBOLS & IMAGERY.  
41. Reparenting YourselfNurture your inner child through self-care.Engage in activities that comfort and support your inner child, offering love and reassurance.  

“Inner child” can be one of those buzz words that gets thrown around and then confuses people – all it really means at the simplest and most practical level is that you figure out some of the NEEDS that weren’t met in childhood and then GIVE YOURSELF them (or find ways to get them met).  

For example, maybe you had really strict, shame-driven parents who never gave you any kind words of encouragement. Find ways to meet this need now as an adult (by learning to encourage yourself).  

Maybe you didn’t get TOUCHED enough (which is vital for our development) and so you crave affection – find ways to get into your body or to work with your partner to meet this need in a healthy way (if you have one).  

The point is that if you become AWARE of what your “inner child” is still aching for then you can put strategies in place to finally meet these needs and release the ego ‘stuff’ that is blocking you because of this (and get the shadow moving again).
42. Graveyard MeditationContemplate mortality and impermanence.Go for a walk in a cemetery, reflecting on the transient nature of life.  

That might be a bit extreme for some of us but only if we really ACCEPT that we’re going to be DEAD one day can we start to step away from the ego and start MOVING again.  

The ego is the illusion that things are FIXED but the truth is that everything keeps moving – the fact that we’re hurtling towards death is evidence of this.  

Many of us live in the DENIAL of death (also the name of a great book by Ernest Becker) but if we can face it then we can bring our realness out of the shadows because we won’t just accept ourselves but also LIFE.  

If you don’t want to walk in a cemetery you can just brood or something!
43. Sensory ExplorationConnect with your senses to ground yourself.Engage in sensory experiences, focusing on textures, smells, and tastes.  

You can create scenarios and situations to really indulge in your senses (go “stop and smell the flowers”, so to speak) or you can keep it simple and just pause and reflect on what you’re sensing right NOW!  

Again, one of the main themes of integrating and facing shadow is to get out of our head and into our body (so we can better align the two and point them in the same direction).
44. Shadow PhotographyExpress shadow aspects through photography.Go on a “photo walk” and see what your attention is drawn to. Explore your own photographs for meaning and see what they can teach you about your shadow self.  

Ultimately, when we let go and just allw our attention go where it needs to go, there will be something to learn about the unconscious mind and what it’s telling us.  

When we get in the mind flow of a photography walk, we change our state of AWARENESS as we become present with our surroundings and look for things that we find ‘photo worthy’ (i.e. worth ‘capturing’).  

Maybe there’s a shadow that appeals to you (a literal one), a reflection, an animal living its life without thought, a bag of trashing blowing around in the wind.  

Get snapping and see what you’re ‘capturing’ of yourself as well!
45. Symbolic Gestures of GoodwillLook for opportunities to give to others.Use symbolic gestures of goodwill to share something REAL of yourself with others.  

When you keep this in mind, you’ll find that there’s always opportunities to give to the world – sometimes, this might feel weird or strange but if it does it’s because there’s some EGO BLOCK (surprise, surprise) to sharing our real self with the world.  

We can undo our conditioning and better connect to others when opportunities to give arise and we go with it.
46. Animal  ReflectionPay attention to the animals that ‘show up’ in your life in meaningful ways and reflect on this meaning.This may sound a bit ‘much’ for some people but – as with anything on this list – it’s the INTERPRETATIONS you put on things that show you what’s going on in your shadow (not to say that their isn’t some deeper, universal meaning).  

Animals are connected to the natural cycles of life and nature and can pop up in our lives at unexpected times that can seem meaningful.  

For example, a year ago I went hiking with a friend in the hills and he had an absolutely terrible time (kept falling over, getting tired etc.) – this brought a really frenetic energy to the day.  

I dropped him home after the walk and on my drive back to my place a deer jumped over a wall, in front of my car, and got hit by a car coming on the opposite side of the road (smashing its mirror into seemingly hundreds of tiny pieces).  

After that, the deer lay in the road right next to my car taking its last breaths and then it died right in front of me. I literally watched it pass away.

Does this objectively ‘mean’ something? Maybe, maybe not. But I can take meaning from it and this can teach me a lot about my own shadow and what’s going on inside me.
47. Shadow AffirmationsAffirm positive integration of shadow aspects.Create affirmations addressing shadow traits, affirming your commitment to releasing and/or integration.

Basically, once you start to become aware of something that’s beginning to surface and either be RELEASED or INTEGRATED, then keep making a point to pause in your day and to remind yourself that it’s happening.  

You don’t have to FORCE it, but by keeping these things in conscious awareness you can let them flow more easily and ensure that you’re not blocking the process by falling into old patterns.
48. Shadow Journal PromptsUse prompts for deeper exploration of shadow aspects.Respond to journal prompts focusing on different aspects of yourself.  

By increasing awareness of yourself you will go deeper and deeper into ACCEPTANCE – the deeper you go into acceptance, the deeper you go into integration and ensure that the gap between ego and shadow is minimal.  

I have a free download here which gives 90-days of journal prompts for building overall awareness of oneself:   90-Day Journal Prompt Challenge.
49. Rage ReleaseChannel anger into constructive outlets.Find a safe way to express anger, such as punching a pillow or engaging in vigorous exercise.  

Rage is often a product of unresolved toxic SHAME and shame leads to our (over) attachment to the ego and the presence of the Void in our lives.  

When you can channel your rage into something then you can RELEASE it and start dealing with the shame so it can dissolve.  

This might just involve whacking a punch bag, going to a boxing class, or even going to a “Rage Room” in your area (if there is one) where you can pay to smash things up in a violent manner.
50. Explore your hatred.Look at what you can learn by exploring the things and people that you ‘hate’.Write a list of the things or people in your life that you ‘hate’ and your REASONS for feeling this way.  

Hatred is a strong emotion (to state the obvious) and it almost always reveals some of our projections (hidden emotions and ideas about ourselves projected out into the external world) and can show us some of the things that we are FIGHTING within ourselves.  

For example, if you hate somebody in your life for being ‘weak’ or ‘cruel’ then it’s quite likely that you haven’t face your own weakness or cruelty and have sent them down into the Shadow Territory.  

Essentially, the more other people ‘trigger’ us to strong reactions, the more likely it is that there’s some quality in ourselves that needs integrating so we can dissolve these feelings and move forward.
51. Explore old attractions / relationshipsLook for patterns and similarities in your attractions and relationships.If we have “unfinished business” from our childhood then we tend to keep attracting people that remind us (unconsciously) of old patterns and scripts so that we can work our way through them.

This is why so many people often find themselves with different partners but in the exact same situations: they’re bringing the same dynamics into their life so that they can heal and release something they’ve been clinging to without realising.  

For example, maybe when you were a kid, you had an exceptionally strict and hypercritical parent – this caused you to try and ‘win’ love by seeking approval and developing people pleasing tendencies.  

As an adult, if you look back at your relationships you might realise that you’ve been reliving the same dynamic – i.e. attracting partners who can never be pleased and keep giving you the familiar ‘buzz’ of not approving of you (so you dance through hoops to ‘win’ their love).  

This is just one example but exploring your own relationships for these patterns will show you how your ego has been formed and what patterns you need to smash through to free the shadow.
52. Shadow Integration RitualCreate a ritual to integrate shadow aspects.Design a ritual symbolizing integration and acceptance of your shadow self.

This can literally be anything that ‘feels’ right to you and will be something completely personal and subjective (embodying the THEMES and SYMBOLS that you think express your shadow and feel like you’re getting things moving again).  

Maybe you’ll go dance beneath the moon, maybe you’ll stare into a candle for a few hours, maybe you’ll simply find some creative way to delineate a turning point of sorts…  

The point is to design some ritual that can serve as a rite of passage for crossing the threshold between fragmentation and wholeness – once you’ve crossover you will be deeply committed to the process of UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE and integration of the Shadow.
53. Explore your loveLook at what you can learn by exploring the things and people that you ‘love’.Really, just the other side of the coin of exercise #50: Explore your hatred: write a list of the things and people that you love and the reasons for this (the qualities they embody etc.).  

A lot of the time, the qualities that we admire in others are positive qualities that we possess ourselves but that we’ve become detached or distanced from.  

Once you understand what some of these qualities might be then you can start to put strategies in place to figure out how you can BECOME a version of yourself that embodies these even more.  

This will bring them out of the Shadow Territory and back into the light where they belong.
54. Family Dynamics ReflectionReflect on the dynamics within your family of origin.Notice any patterns of behaviour or communication styles that have been passed down through generations, and consider how these dynamics might influence your own projections onto others.  

It will be especially useful to look back at some of the “hot topics” in your family of origin – for example, maybe somebody was addicted to something and it caused everybody stress, or somebody had some kind of trauma that nobody was allowed to talk about.  

Essentially, look back at the family that shaped you into the person you are today and think about what dysfunction might have shaped you, caused you to hold back, or simply just impacted you in some way.  

Prompt: “What do I still need to let go of that the original family dynamic asks me to still carry today? Who would I become if I let go?”
55. Shadow Ritual DanceUse dance as a ritual for integrating shadow aspects.Dance with intention, expressing and integrating shadow aspects through movement.

This is similar to exercise #22 but instead of just letting loose in a free-flowing and spontaneous way you set some intentionality or specific shadow theme as motivation for your movement.  

Maybe you have some unresolved ‘anger’, for example – blast some angry music and get it moving again.  

Maybe you feel like there’s some unresolved issues around a specific incident that happened in the past – unblock yourself by re-enacting it and taking control of the situation with the new energy you bring through dance.  

Obviously, this isn’t for everybody but if you’re a ‘dancer’ type then get on it.
56. Art JournalingCombine writing and art for deeper self-exploration.Use a journal to write and create art, exploring and expressing your inner world.  

You can follow some journal prompts or you can simply take a stream of consciousness approach and just let whatever needs to pour out to do so.

Don’t limit yourself to just words and add doodles, drawings, or whatever elaborate artistic creations you want to bring to the experience.  

By doing this you can bring your left and right brain into the equation and make it an even more ‘holistic’ experience.
57. Shadow Affirmation CardsCreate cards with affirmations for shadow integration.Make cards with affirmations addressing specific shadow traits, using them for daily reflection.  

This is a useful exercise once you’ve started to raise AWARENESS of what’s down there in the Shadow Territory waiting to resurface.  

Once you’ve got a grasp of what some of these ‘things’ might be then ask yourself what your highest and most REAL vision for them might be.  

For example, if you notice that your creativity is finally starting to surface, ask yourself where you want to take it.   Write this down on a card in the first person, PRESENT TENSE and frame it in the positive:  

“I am bringing my creativity to the surface and am trusting it as a vehicle to release old patterns” (or whatever).  

Carry these cards with you throughout the day and remember to look at them every so often.

Obviously, don’t just ‘look’ but pause to really FEEL that you’re engaged in the process and to visualise where you’re headed.   The whole point is to remind yourself to stay in the FLOW of managing cause and effect to get where you’re headed.
58. Shadow PuppetryUse puppets to explore and express shadow aspects.Create and manipulate puppets to act out scenarios representing inner conflicts or emotions.  

This works with different ‘parts’ of yourself that you’ve noticed and want to face but also with different SUB-PERSONALITIES you might have developed over the years to keep your ego where it needs to be as part of the SHADOW DANCE (between ego and shadow).

In relation to the different parts, you might create some kind of puppet that represents your anger and another that represents the more relaxed side of yourself.  

In relation to sub-personalities, you might notice that there’s a version of you that’s a ‘people-pleaser’ or that has addictive tendencies and easily caves in to unhealthy habits under pressure (etc.). 

You can create a ‘puppet’ that represents this side of yourself and then talk it out.  

Again, how deeply or seriously you want to take this exercise is up to you: you might create an intricate ventriloquist dummy, you might just use your sock and stick some googly-eye on it.  

The point of many of these exercises is just to PLAY and stay CURIOUS about this ‘stuff’ so you can get moving again.
59. Shadow Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep)Practice yoga nidra with a focus on shadow integration.Engage in yoga nidra, focusing on integrating and accepting shadow aspects.  

Yoga nidra is also known as ‘yogic sleep’ and involves getting in a deep state of relaxation whilst maintaining a sense of awareness of our inner state.  

It’s easier to get in this state if you’ve done a (physical) yoga session but you can also just put yourself in savasana (corpse pose) and allow yourself to close your eyes, relax, and get into your breath.  

When you get into this deep state of relaxation, you can experience yourself as UNCONDITIONED CONSCIOUSNESS – this is the opposite of our day-to-day state of conditioned consciousness which is constantly being distracted by the hamster wheel of thoughts and the filter of identity/ego.  

Stepping into this unconditioned state allows you to see your true identity in wholeness and to experience the natural flow of yourself as a living being. This means you step away from the (illusory) stasis of ego and start to move with the shadow as the unconscious becomes conscious.  

Here’s a yoga nidra video on Youtube that can help you experience this.  
60. Memory ExplorationReflect on childhood memories for hidden insights.Recall and journal about childhood memories, exploring emotions and experiences.  

This might sound a bit strange but try and remember memories that you can’t remember – you might have to close your eyes and really let go to do this but if you’re open then you’ll be taken back to places you forgot about.

(Hypnotherapy can really help with this if you find a good hypnotherapist).

One memory I uncovered by getting a hypnotherapy session was about my dog dying when I was a kid and my dad and stepmother laughing at me for being upset about it (the dog got attacked by a pitbull and was shaking in his bed).  

This allowed me to understand all kinds of things about the dynamics in that family and some of my own personality defects and tendencies as an adult (long story short: they were laughing at me because I’d just returned from my Mum’s house – my parents were divorced – and they were trying to shame me into no longer visiting her).  

Anyway, the point here is to see what memories are blocked from view. Once you see them, there’ll always be some learning.    
61. Shadow MeditationMeditate with a focus on exploring shadow aspects.Practice meditation, bringing awareness to shadow aspects without judgment.  

We’ve already had a ‘generic’ meditation exercise but in this case you literally set the INTENTION of meeting your shadow in the meditative state.

This might involve visualisation or simply just setting an intention and seeing what happens.   

Once something does happen, you can learn from the experience as well as cultivate a deeper ACCEPTANCE for what you uncover about yourself (again: UNCONDITIONAL SELF-ACCEPTANCE is what it’s all about).  
62. Early Influences and Role ModelsExplore the qualities embodied by people you admired as a child.Go back to your childhood (again!) and reflect on some of the people that you looked up to back then.  

Maybe it was a movie star like Arnie, maybe it was Michael Jackson, maybe it wasn’t even somebody famous but the bin man or something like that.

Think about what it was that appealed to you so much about these role models and what they were trying to call out of you.  

Did those qualities get embodied as you became an adult? Was it just a passing phase? Is there still some work that needs to be done?  

What does this tell you about your shadow and where you might be limiting yourself (if anything)?
63. Shadow DrummingUse drumming to access and express emotions.Drum with intention, allowing emotions to surface and be released through rhythm.  

This is really just another way of allowing those e-motions to get moving again (“emotions are energy in motion”).  

Bang on a literal bongo or simply just whack the table or something.  See if you can find a natural rhythm that’s waiting to be expressed.  

Maybe this rhythm can teach you something?  

(What does its tone tell you etc.)?
64. Unresolved ConflictsExamine the unresolved conflicts in your life.Look at your life and the unresolved conflicts that you may be involved in with other people.  

This maybe a relationship that you walked away from that still has “unfinished business”, it might be a disagreement with somebody that’s still causing you irritation, or it might be a situation where there’s a real or difficult conversation that needs to be had in order to heal the relationship and move forward.  

What CHOICES are you making that are keeping this conflicted unresolved? What does this tell you about your ego and how it’s keeping the shadow at bay?   What can you DO about this conflict?

Can you resolve it by getting in touch with the person in question? Or do you just need to work on cultivating acceptance because it’s out of your control?

Either way, CONFLICT is always an opportunity for learning – unresolved conflict even more so because it means there’s some kind of EGO BLOCK somewhere.
65. Gratitude Shadow JournalingFind gratitude for shadow aspects.Journal about shadow traits or experiences, finding gratitude for the lessons they offer.  

Prompt: “What are some of the sides of myself that I consciously hide from the world? What reasons do I have to be GRATEFUL for these parts of myself?”  

The ‘parts’ that we feel forced to disown because of social pressure etc. are still very REAL – if we can be grateful for this REALNESS, we can release the energy of these parts and bring more flow into our lives.
66. Childhood FearsLook at fears and anxieties that shaped you as a child.Try to remember some of the fears and anxieties that you had as a child and see what they can teach you about the person you became.  

You might’ve had a strong fear of one of your parents dying, for example, which was a reflection of some abandonment issue that you still carry to this day.  

You might’ve been scared of going too far away from the family home which is still reflected in your fear of taking risks or giving into that call to adventure in your heart.  

It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ these fears might be but there may be some shadow learning if you can unpack them and see how they still drive you today (if they do).
67. Mindful EatingPractice mindful eating by paying attention to your thoughts and emotions while eating.Notice any judgments or criticisms that arise about the food or your eating habits, and reflect on what they might reveal about your relationship with food and your body.  

Pay attention to how you either use food as a DISTRACTION or as something that truly makes you present and allows you to get in your senses and your body.  

The link here to your SHADOW is that – as we’ve said in other exercises – the conflict between your ego and your shadow is really a conflict between your body and your mind.  

Mindful eating really allows us to bring all ‘parts’ of ourselves into a whole and to point them in the same direction.
68. Monster MetamorphosisImagine transforming into the monsters from your childhood nightmares or memories.Explore what fears or insecurities these monsters represent. Reflect on the emotions and memories these monsters evoke, and journal about their symbolic meaning.  

I remember when I was a kid being absolutely terrified of Chucky from the ‘Child’s Play’ movies – there’s was a period of a few months where I found it really hard to sleep and found it hard to feel safe in the family home (lesson: don’t watch Child’s Play when you’re a kid).  

I think watching this movie really increased a fear I already had of not feeling ‘safe’ in that home – it added an extra level where I felt like I couldn’t trust my own toys and didn’t know what might happen at any moment.  

I could probably unpack so much from thinking about this – if you have any other ‘monsters’ from your childhood then try stepping into their shoes and see what you can learn about where you’ve been and what you’ve been through.  

This kind of ‘stuff’ can help you understand what formed your ego and the way you might be holding back and blocking the shadow.  
69. Shadow ‘Ugly’ Portrait PaintingUse painting as a ritual for shadow integration.Paint a self-portrait focusing solely on your perceived flaws and imperfections.

Embrace and celebrate these aspects rather than trying to hide or mask them.   The whole point is to simply ACCEPT (there’s a theme here!) these ‘uglier’ sides of yourself and to get into a state where you can just play with them.  

At the end of the day, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE. Anything that can help you see this will set you free.
70. Secret Society / CultImagine you’re starting a ‘Secret Society’ or cult where all your needs are met.Imagine that you get to be in charge of your own secret society or cult (…just imagine!) and that you can determine its overarching theme, symbols, and anything else that you think is relevant.  

What would this cult do? How would they spend their time? What rituals would they have?  

This might seem a bit ‘out there’ but it will help you to see how you would show up in the world if there were absolutely no restraints on what you were ‘allowed’ to do.   Understanding this will show you what’s hiding in you and can’t find a way to be expressed because of the limitations of the ‘regular’ world.  

Once you know what these hidden parts are you can start to think of healthy ways to help them resurface.
71. Kink ExplorationSee what your sexual ‘kinks’ might have to teach you.Look at some of the things that could be considered ‘kinks’ when it comes to your sex life (things that you’ve expressed or that remain unexpressed but that you’re aware of).  

Sex isn’t something that we HAVE but something that we ARE – the version of you that wants to really show up in your most intimate moments is probably showing you something very REAL about yourself.

For example, if you’re a CONTROL FREAK in your day-to-day life but you like somebody to take away your control in a sexual situation (with consent of course), then it might show you that the workaday control is just a façade because your real self actually wants to surrender (to the flow).

There are all kinds of kinks and quirks that we might have – don’t judge them but see what they’re trying to teach you or how they’re helping you to make the unconscious conscious so you can heal yourself.
72. Shadow Collage MeditationMeditate while focusing on a collage representing shadow aspects.Meditate while gazing at a collage depicting your shadow self, allowing insights and emotions to arise.  

As we said in exercise #27, the act of making a collage can be therapeutic and edifying in itself – meditating on it can allow the unconscious to tell you things that you might not have expected or realised during the creative process.  

If you don’t want to spend time making a collage then you can find some symbol or anything else that represents the shadow and you can use as a meditation aid.
73. Lost and Found TreasuresReflect on cherished possessions from your childhood that were lost or discarded.Make a list of cherished possessions from your childhood that are no longer in your possession.   Reflect on the emotions and memories associated with each item, and journal about their symbolic significance.  

I remember when I was a kid and we moved into a new house – when I went into my bedroom for the first time I found a red plastic cowboy on the floor.  

I have literally no idea why but that red cowboy pops up in my mind every so often and I can see it clear as day.  

This would be excellent fuel for this exercise as it’s already ‘calling’ to me from my unconscious mind – probably in your own life there are lost objects from the past that have thing or two to teach you in the present.
74. Reverse Role ModelsPut yourself in the shoes of the people that hurt you when you were growing up.Make a list of people from your childhood whom you disliked or envied.   Reflect on the qualities or traits that triggered these feelings, and consider how they might mirror aspects of your shadow self.  

This might be a parent that was too strict, a bully at school, or anything else – imagine yourself in the shoes of this person and try to think about what they saw in you that made them treat you the way they did.  

What does this have to teach you about your own shadow in the here-and-now?
75. Time Capsule UnearthedImagine discovering a time capsule from your childhood.Explore what hidden memories or emotions might be preserved inside.

Again, you might end up surprising yourself here with memories that you didn’t ‘know’ you remembered – this means you’ve unblocked something that was holding you back from this awareness and start to flow with the natural drive towards wholeness.  

What can you learn from this ‘time capsule’? How is the past still trying to teach you to be REAL?
76. Imagine the Opposite of YourselfThink about what the opposite of yourself might be like.You can either journal on this, create some kind of artwork, or simply just sit and meditate.   The idea is to really get a grasp of what you would be like if you were in the reverse polarity of the qualities you embody now.

For example, maybe you’re a PEOPLE PLEASER who often holds back and is incredibly reserved – in this case, the opposite version of you might be hyper-aggressive and just does whatever they want without thinking about other people.  

Maybe you’re somebody who is ridiculously horny all the time – the opposite version of yourself might be completely averse to such behaviour.

The idea is to list as many of these OPPOSITE qualities as possible and to remember the old Taoist saying that “everything contains the seed of its opposite”.  

The next step is to ask where you need more BALANCE – if people-pleasing is causing you issues and frustration then it’s more than likely that this OPPOSITE quality is in your shadow and needs to be actively integrated to bring more harmony.
77. Recurring DreamsLook at the recurring dreams you’ve had in your life.All dreams are ultimately a product of the unconscious trying to process the FRAGMENTS of our lives and to make them more WHOLE (in my understanding).  

If you have or have ever had a recurring dream then odds are that it’s showing you were your unconscious mind keeps meeting the same BLOCK – if you can figure out what this is then you can start to actively unblock it by looking at the shadow qualities that need freeing from ego.  

I used to have a recurring dream that I’d be walking down the street (or wherever) and then I’d suddenly leap into the air and be carried away by the wind.   

The feeling of FREEDOM that I got from being carried in this way was incredibly intense and a reflection (I know believe) of the freedom I craved in my life at the time because I was ‘stuck’ for various reasons.  

Now I have a lot of freedom in my life, I no longer have this dream, but it’s interesting to see what this was both teaching and giving me at that time.

If you have a recurring dream then it might be your shadow’s way of giving you what your conscious life is lacking and craving so you can move towards wholeness.
78. Shadow LetterWrite a letter to your shadow.Write a letter to your shadow self, expressing any feelings, thoughts, or questions you have towards it.  

How far you go with this is totally up to you but the idea is to write and let your shadow know that you’re trying to INTEGRATE it and to explore the process.  

If you’re feeling next level then you can write a letter back to yourself from your shadow and see what it might tell you (this will involve getting your conscious mind out of the way for obvious reasons).
79. Embrace Chaos.Actively invite chaos into your life.This one might be for the ‘braver’ among us but actively finding ways to invite CHAOS into our lives can help us to break free from ego and to invite something REAL back into the picture.  

This is because the EGO is always an illusion of false ORDER (which is why the most ego driven people are almost always control freaks – they’re trying to manipulate life to keep the shadow at bay).  

Inviting CHAOS breaks us free of all of the systems and structures we’ve created in our lives in order to stay in the ego’s comfort zone.  

To ‘invite chaos’, you might just deviate from your usual routine, you might invite somebody out for lunch that you’ve typically avoided for whatever reason, you might do something wild like go climb a mountain on a whim instead of going to work.  

There is CHAOS everywhere so there are plenty of opportunities.
80. Celebrate FailureLook at your ‘failures’ and celebrate them instead of hiding from them.We’ve all ‘failed’ at some time in our lives – this is just part of being a humble human being who isn’t omniscient or omnipotent.  

Instead of running from or avoiding your failures, look back and explore the ways in which these ‘failures’ really revealed something REAL about you or brought about unexpected opportunities.  

We’ve all heard the cliché that failure is really just a state of mind – it’s also a MENTAL BLOCK.  

If you can learn to celebrate your failure then you’ll also learn to celebrate the disowned parts of yourself that have been locked behind a narrative that we have to be ‘successful’ all the time (and ideas of ‘success’ that are all rooted in ego anyway).
81. Dance in the darkLiterally turn all the lights off one night and dance around in the dark.Turn off all the lights and dance in complete darkness, allowing your movements to express the hidden depths of your shadow self.  

To be honest, this might be a bit overdramatic but the idea is to SYMBOLISE (your unconscious mind works in symbols and images) your familiarity with the darkness and your capacity to let go when submerged in it.

(Note: most of these exercises are about LETTING GO).
82. Laugh at your FearsLearn to see the funny side of your own fears and doubts.Find humour in your fears and anxieties, laughing at their absurdity and reclaiming your power over them.  

Many of our fears, doubts, and judgement of ourselves and life are completely irrational and just an emotional ‘thing’ that’s causing us to stay blocked to real movement and growth.  

Make a list of the things that scare you about life and then try to imagine yourself as some outside observer laughing at these things.  

There’s almost some ‘angle’ where we can see the funny side because in truth NOTHING is as serious as we convince ourselves it is (because life is just a joke without a punchline really).  

The point is to become DISTANCED from these fears so you can reclaim your POWER over yourself by shifting your PERSPECTIVE from illusion to REALITY.
83. Name Your DemonsLook at your emotional ‘demons’ and give them names so you can start to befriend them.We all have ‘demons’ – things that haunt us or that we’d rather not face. 

By not facing them, though, we just end up making the problems they bring worse (as Carl Jung said “what we resist persists”).  

We don’t have to force ourselves to dive right in and accept our demons blindly (if we don’t want to) but we can start the process of reconciliation by giving these demons names.  

Ideally, these names need to be ‘silly’ or ‘cute’ so that we can disarm them in some way and start to absorb some of their power ourselves.  

The main benefit of naming them is that when they show up we don’t feel as much like running but can start facing them in their familiarity.  

Eventually, they’re not just familiar – they become part of us (i.e. we released and integrated).
84. Wear Your Masks ProudlyEmbody an extreme version of the ‘masks’ you find yourself wearing.Instead of trying to remove your masks, wear them proudly and explore how they serve and protect different aspects of your psyche.  

The problem with a ‘mask’ isn’t that we’re wearing one, but that we FORGOT we were wearing one and confused it with our REALNESS.  

When we try too hard to ‘remove’ our masks instead of ACCEPTING them, we can cause unnecessary friction for ourselves because the mask only really exists to help us SURIVIVE.  

In this exercise, we make a list of the masks that we have to wear in certain social situations and contexts and then TURN UP THE VOLUME.  

This gives us a conscious control over the mask instead of being controlled by it.   Eventually, this helps us to see what’s real and what’s not and to let go of the unreal ‘stuff’ and let the shadow do its thing.
85. Play with TaboosPush the boundaries a little by not shying away from the taboo.Deliberately engage with taboo subjects or behaviours and examine your reactions without judgment, recognising the societal conditioning that shapes your shadow.  

The reason that a lot of things are ‘taboo’ is because they’re in the collective shadow of society as a whole – for example, DEATH is a taboo topic because most of us aren’t comfortable facing this fact of life.  

Sometimes, if I’m in a social situation and I get a joke pop up in my head that I know is a little risqué or inappropriate I will push through that niggling voice that tells me not to say it and say it anyway.  

Nothing bad has ever happened from doing this but it has really helped me not to be held back by social conditioning alone.  

In all relationships, there will be some TABOO topics that often get ignored – these are actually beautiful opportunities for GROWTH because they always bring more TRUTH back into the situation.  

Explore the taboo in your own life and there will always be some shadow ‘stuff’ that gets brought up.

Next time you feel like you “shouldn’t” say something, say it anyway.
86. Break Your Own RulesPurposefully break your own rules and boundaries.Purposely breaking your own rules and boundaries allows you to explore the freedom that comes from transcending self-imposed limitations.  

This will ultimately to help you learn if your rules are just arbitrary constructs that you’ve attached to for the sake of your EGO (and therefore keeping the shadow at bay) or if they’re actual REAL STANDARDS rooted in your realness.  

This is particularly effective around rigid rules that you might have created because of some fear of losing control.  

For example, maybe you’re terrified of eating calorific food sometimes in case you get a taste for it and go off the rails (eating it all the time).

Maybe you won’t let yourself loosen up and have ‘fun’ by [going out/playing a video game/texting somebody that you want to talk to/whatever].  

Some of these things may actually be ‘bad’ if you do them all the time (everything has an opportunity cost after all) but the point is that if you LET GO of your own rules then you can see if they still apply to your life and whatever is really going inside you.  

If you’re just acting on autopilot then you’ve probably become too attached to ego and you’re blocking some side of yourself from being integrated in a healthy way (which is why you need strict ‘rules’ to control it instead of being able to make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE).
87. Shadow Nature ConnectionConnect with nature to explore and integrate shadow aspects.Spend time in natural settings, reflecting on how the elements of nature mirror your shadow self.   The point here is to not just connect to nature but to see how nature can REFLECT yourself back at you and show you who you really are.

As we’ve said, it’s not just our personal ‘stuff’ that’s hidden in the Shadow Territory but also our superconscious connection to nature itself and the universal truths and patterns that apply to us all but get lost behind all of the layers of interpretation and BS in the world.  

For this exercise, you spend time in nature actively looking for things that remind you of your own true nature:

Maybe it’s watching the leaves fall from the trees in autumn reminding you that we all go through cycles and that death is coming for us all.  

Maybe it’s watching a stream carry itself to where it needs to go without any effort or force and you remind yourself that this is how you are too at your most real.  

Maybe it’s looking at a vast open sky and realising how much potential you have in your own life if you can just empty your mind.  

There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about these ideas and reflections – you’re just looking for messages from your deeper self (shadow) reflected on the canvas of nature itself.
88. Embrace IntimacyInstead of avoiding intimacy, intentionally open yourself up to it.Our ‘natural’ impulse is often to run away from intimacy because it will expose who we really are away from our masks and the protective cloak of the ego (despite us all, ironically, craving intimacy and being ‘seen’).  

Avoiding intimacy is a ‘safe’ way to stay in our comfort zones and to keep going through the same old patterns and scripts in life but it’s antithetical to our growth into wholeness.  

If there’s somebody in your life that you have an opportunity to be truly intimate (in the sense of sharing your real self) with, then step up and take it.  

Make a commitment to sharing the truth about yourself and life with this person to the greatest extent possible (and vice versa).  

This has to be somebody you can trust but if you can really let go and just allow yourself to be ‘seen’ then you will push the limits of your ego and truly taste expansion.  

Make some time to just really BE with somebody and to have a deep and truthful conversation and some shared moments of WHOLENESS (the ego is the opposite of reality which is why this is so powerful). 
89. Challenge AuthorityQuestion and challenge societal norms and authority figures.Our egos are often formed and kept in place because of the sources that we deem to have ‘authority’ over our lives – if we don’t question or challenge these sources then there’s a very high chance that some of the limits this authority imposes are just keeping our shadow at bay.  

For example, many people still live under the ‘authority’ of the narratives they picked up in school about certain human qualities – creativity, passion, aggression – not being ‘good’ if we want to be ‘productive’ members of society.  

In other cases, some of us blindly follow the advice of ‘thought leaders’, ‘experts’, and ‘media personalities’ that have made careers out of telling us what to ‘think’ at the cost of not understanding what we really think ourselves.  

You could even take this ‘authority’ as far as the law (though I don’t recommend breaking it!) – if you just accept everything without question then it’s quite likely that you really don’t know yourself and your own power.  

Make a list of the authority figures in your life, what they’ve taught you, and what questions you have about these teachings.   You might learn that hidden in your shadow is something much more deeply connected to the TRUTH that can open your life up and set you free.
90. Seek Darkness in LightLook for the darkness in the things that bring ‘light’ into your life.Look for shadows and hidden depths within seemingly bright and positive experiences, acknowledging the complexity of light and dark within every aspect of life.  

The ego is rooted in the idea of judgement and duality and the belief that things are either ‘light’ or ‘dark, ‘good’ or ‘bad’.   Reality itself – including our own shadow and the realness that it can invite into our lives – is beyond any of this duality and is a deeply rich and beautiful cocktail of different shades.  

Look at the things in your life that give it meaning or a sense of lightness in the darkness.   What qualities can you unpack here that may be the opposite of how you usually see these things?  

Few things are all ‘good’ or all ‘bad’ – if you can find the opposite qualities in the things you may have put on a pedestal then you can see where you may WANT to believe something rather than it simply just being ‘true’.  

In the gap between what you believe and the actual truth then you’ll see your own shadow and start moving towards wholeness.

Every ‘good’ thing comes with a COST – for example, if you get married that’s ‘good’ but the cost is that you can’t be with anybody else.

Every ‘bad’ thing comes with an OPPORTUNITY – for example, if you get seriously ill it will show you what’s important in life.

Look at your life in these terms and see where you’re blocking movement and flow being too either/or with your thinking.
91. Embrace RejectionSeek out rejection and embrace it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.Recognise that ‘rejection’ is often a reflection of your shadow’s fears of unworthiness because of unresolved shame (a disconnection from the TRUTH about yourself and life).  

When we fear being rejected it’s because our ego has been built as a response to underlying fears of not being ‘good enough’ in some way and externalising the feeling that it may be possible to be ‘good enough’ to some source besides the truth (i.e. other human beings).  

Creating opportunities to ‘collect’ people saying ‘No’ to us can serve as a kind of ‘exposure therapy’ that removes some of the impact of being rejected and shows us that we’re ALWAYS REAL no matter what.  

This gives us a more solid foundation of ACCEPTANCE that can let us start moving with reality again because we’re not blocking it with ‘ego’ stuff.  

If you want to find a partner, for example, then create opportunities to put yourself out there and receive rejection (you might surprise yourself and get a ‘Yes’).  

If you’re a writer, then send your work to publishers and see how many times you can hear the word “NO”.  


The point is to overcome your fear of the word “NO” so you can see what remains and how you can keep saying “YES!” to yourself.  

That’s where the REAL ‘stuff’ is and where you’ll learn where you ego has been holding you back from seeing clearly.  

This will also teach you that “WHAT’S REAL IS ALWAYS REAL“.
92. Look for Unconscious IntentionsReverse engineer your life so you can see what you really think.We can learn a lot about what’s going on in our unconscious mind by looking at the RESULTS we keep getting in life (even though we might tell ourselves we don’t want these results).

For example, maybe you keep telling yourself (at the level of identity and EGO) that you “want to lose weight” but no matter what you ‘try’ you just can’t get the pounds off.  

Or maybe you keep telling yourself (at the level of ego again) that you want more success in your business but it just never seems to happen.  

In ALL cases like these, you can pretty much guarantee that you have an UNCONSCIOUS intention that outweighs the conscious one – whatever this is will tell you about your shadow so you can finally face facts and start freeing yourself.  

In the case of losing weight, the unconscious intention might be that you DON’T want to lose weight because you’re scared of the responsibility of being more attractive (for example).  

In the case of not getting that business success, this might because you actually have an unconscious fear of rejection and so you keep sabotaging yourself.

There’s a video I made about this here – ultimately, reverse engineering based on the results you keep getting is one of the most powerful ways to figure out what’s going on in your shadow and driving you.

93. Media Consumption AnalysisLook for themes in the kind of media you regularly consume.Looking for recurring themes and patterns that occur in the media you consume can tell you a lot about what might be bubbling away beneath the surface.  

For example, maybe you constantly watch WAR movies or play video games about adventure and epic quests and battles.  

This is just an example but it’s highly likely that this is showing you something about the REAL VALUES you hold that are not being expressed in your life and are stuck in the Shadow Territory.  

Maybe you need more ADVENTURE, maybe you need more camaraderie (which is why those war movies call to you), maybe you need to find a sense of meaning through some kind of QUEST.  

Or maybe you just watch romantic comedies all the time?  

Probably there’s some romantic ‘side’ of you that’s not getting expression.  

If you can figure out these patterns then you can start to actively BRING these things into your life in a real way and start integrating the shadow.
94. Unvisited PlacesLearn from the places you’ve never been but that call to you.Different places bring different ENERGY to our lives (for example, New York city is a totally ‘masculine’ / Yang place compared to a beach in Hawaii or something which is more ‘feminine’ / Yin).  

There are certain places that you want to visit but that you’ve not had the chance to do so yet – you can learn a lot about your unexpressed shadow needs by looking at the energy these places embody (even if it’s just an idea you’ve picked up, not the real thing).  

For example, I’ve never been to Miami but there’s something about it that really appeals to me – the ocean, the extreme weather, people living lives that seem completely free but also very cool and with a bit of attitude.  

Miami might not be like this at all but the point is that these QUALITIES are all really important to me at some level because they ‘speak’ to me.  

If I can learn to ‘listen’ and start bringing some of these qualities into my life then there’s a high chance I’ll allow some shadow ‘stuff’ to swim to the surface and live a more integrated life.
95. Random MemoriesPay attention to memories that pop up out of the blue.Pay attention to the random memories that ‘pop up’ in your experience when you’re just going about your business and doing something totally unrelated.  

This might be a memory about a place, a person, an experience – it really doesn’t matter…the idea is just to ‘capture’ these memories so they become something you can grasp consciously instead of it just being some nebulous thing that happens without you really ‘seeing’ it.  

It will be easier if you keep some kind of ‘journal’ (or just a dedicated note on your phone) so that you can train yourself to get better at capturing these memories and seeing them clearly.  

Once you’ve captured a memory then try and reflect on what it ‘means’ – maybe it’s just a random flash of images about a place you used to spend time in…you might decide this is telling you to face that the past is done or to go visit because you have ‘unfinished business’.

As with so many of these exercises, it doesn’t matter if you’re ‘right’ (you’ll never know for sure) – it matters that you take some meaning that can teach you what’s going on beneath the surface of yourself.
96. Destroy to CreateDestroy something that you want to let go of but struggle to stop clinging to.There are some things in our life that we would rather let go of but that we have some emotional need to cling to.  

In these cases, we annoy ourselves – or at least get frustrated with ourselves – because we know that we’re ready to move on but simply can’t.  

If there’s something in your life like this – either a physical object from the past or a toxic and unhealthy relationship in the present – then find the strength to ‘destroy’ this thing and to get rid of it.  

This will allow you to step away from the old patterns and ego scripts that keep you clinging and to CREATE a more real version of yourself from whatever learning you get as you move on.
97. Embrace DeathReflect on the fact that all of this is going to be over one day.Studies by researchers at Bar-Ilan University have shown that our brains are wired to distract us from thinking about our own mortality (though we can think about other people’s no problem!).

This makes a lot of sense as the EGO (which keeps the shadow at bay) is built around the illusion that nothing ever changes, that we will stay the same forever, and that we can distract ourselves from the truth.  

If you want to undo some of the programming of your ego and put yourself back into the natural FLOW of life (which involves the flow of your shadow towards integration and wholeness) then reflecting on your own DEATH can get you moving again.  

Stop and really look around you as focus on the fact that all of this is temporary – ask yourself who you really want to BECOME before it’s all over.  

By thinking about this and really FEELING into it, you can see what ideas and beliefs are rooted in a need to escape life and what you really need to DO to live a real life whilst you have time.

I have a free 7-Day Course with 158-page Workbook that starts with a module on ‘Death’ and helps you to find REALNESS & LIFE PURPOSE.
98. Take a Wilderness DaySpend a day either in the wilderness of nature or in the wilderness of your mind.A ‘Wilderness Day’ is what I call the days in my life where I actively separate myself from everybody else – either in nature or simply by staying in my apartment – and allowing whatever emotions etc. that need facing to be faced.  

The real ‘wilderness’ is your unconscious mind.

So often in life, we’re running around like headless chickens – completely DISTRACTING OURSELVES from ourselves and life.  

A Wilderness Day is a day where you commit fully to NOT distracting yourself – you simply spend time in solitude and wait for things that need to surface to surface.  

The fact is that – because of the natural drive we all share towards wholeness – there are always things just outside conscious awareness that are trying to get our attention: when we stop distracting ourselves we can reveal them fully, learn from them, and move on.  

Exactly what a ‘Wilderness Day’ looks like will be different for all of us – for me it means lots of yoga and meditation.

Figure out how you can LEARN from solitude and give yourself this amazing gift.
99. Drown in SilenceSpend a day or two in silence.There’s so much pressure for us to constantly have the ‘right’ thing to say or to know how to make conversations flow and to evolve.  

This leads to a state where many of us FEAR silence because we fear that if we stop making noise then we’ll lose control completely and won’t know who we are any more.   We also fear being ‘seen’ in some way before we’re ready for it (and so constant talking is a form of shame-driven control freakery).

This exercise challenges you to be SILENT for as long as possible.  

Doing this will teach you the real value of your words and help you to determine the difference between EXPRESSING yourself for real reasons and DEPRESSING yourself (without knowing) because you’re just going through the motions.  

If you find it difficult to ride out silence without distracting yourself then there’s a very high chance you find it difficult to just ‘be’ with yourself and others.  

This almost always means there’s some ego ‘stuff’ going on and your shadow is waiting to be revealed in the silence (if you can just ride it out).
100. Embrace AbsurdityPlay with situations and scenarios to remind yourself of the absurd ways we seek meaning.Many of the goals and ambitions we hold for ourselves are really just a way of maintaining order and finding ‘meaning’ in a chaotic universe where we have very little control.  

Maybe – like me – you’ll try and find meaning in some creative endeavour or by trying to serve others and help them connect to themselves.  

Maybe you want to climb a mountain and be the ‘best’ at something so you can feel like it all ‘matters’.  

This exercise challenges you to actively seek the ABSURDITY in our tendency to take these things so seriously.  

Look around you and remind yourself to LAUGH at how crazy all this is – the ego takes things way too seriously but our shadow knows it’s all just a game.

If you can embrace that and loosen up then you can PLAY with life and get in the flow.

I hope at least a few of these exercises ‘speak’ to you and give you some impetus to start raising AWARENESS of what’s going on in your unconscious mind and trying to get your attention.

The bottom line when it comes to Shadow Work is that we’re always being CALLED towards more wholeness by either RELEASING the things that no longer serve us or INTEGRATING the truths that can save us from ourselves (or…at least, the ego).

When we can step out of our own way and ‘lose ourselves to find ourselves’ then we can get into the natural rhythm of life that allows us to flow instead of only ever forcing things through ego and getting back friction, frustration and misery.

As the famous quote by Carl Jung says:

‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’

The Shadow is constantly trying to work its way back into the centre of your life so that you can be the REAL version that you were meant to be.

By doing some of these Shadow Work exercises, you can speed up the process of making the unconscious conscious so you can make REAL CHOICES about who you are and what you’re doing with your life.

Our ‘Fate’ is the cards we were dealt with; our ‘Destiny’ is what happens with the CHOICES we make about these cards – if the gap between who you think you are and who you really are is minimal then these choices will take you where you need to be and you can live a life that’s REAL.

If you want to learn more about the Shadow and bringing your shadow life back to the surface then check out my book on the subject: Shadow Life: Freedom from BS in an Unreal World.

If you want to talk to me about working together or any of the ‘stuff’ you’ve read on this site then book a call with me or send an email.

Stay real out there,

Creative Status Podcast

If you're interested in growing REAL, creativity, and living a life that you really want to be living then check out the latest episode of Creative Status - a podcast about deconstructing ego, integrating the shadow, and learning to trust life.

7-Day Personality Transplant System Shock (for REALNESS & Life Purpose)

A REAL conversation can change your life...

Book a free 'virtual coffee' with me below to talk about anything you've read on this site and how to move forward in life in a real way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Creative Catharsis, REALNESS, & Shadows (Creative Status: Episode 76: Cami Ostman)

Next Story

Dharma, Purpose, & Realness (Creative Status: Episode 77: Nikita Thakrar)

Latest from Life Philosophy

Chat Now
a REAL conversation can change your life
Oh, hi there.

How can I help you grow real today?

(This opens an actual WhatsApp chat - it's not a bot!)