8 of the Best Books for Understanding Shadow Work

“Everybody’s got a dark side, Do you love me? Can you love mine?” That is the lyrics to one of my favorite Kelly Clarkson songs – it’s called Dark Side if you’re curious.

I’ve always loved the message that the song shares of not hiding your mess, but hoping to still be accepted for it. What about your dark side? Do YOU love YOUR dark side, also known as your shadow? 

What Is Shadow Work?

It turns out your shadow isn’t just that thing you see on the ground walking in front of you, or on the wall in a dimly lit room. Psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung coined the term “shadow self” in the 1930s.

Your shadow self is the area of yourself that you have suppressed/kept hidden.

These are usually unconscious aspects of your personality and, according to therapist Akua Boateng, can be a result from painful experiences, childhood trauma, generational trauma, and past memories. This is where shadow work comes into play.

Now that you know that there is this darker side of you, I’m sure you’re curious about it. How did it develop? Why have I not been aware of it?

You most likely have all of these questions and more. You can find answers by doing shadow work to learn more about your inner self. Your main goal in doing this is to bring out those hidden aspects of yourself into conscious awareness. 

Getting to know our shadow selves lets us accept any flaws we have as human beings and free ourselves from judgement. So take a look at this list of books, and get ready to meet your true self with honest and acceptance.

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8 Of The Best Books For Understanding Shadow Work

To learn more about shadow work I gathered eight of the best shadow work books. If I missed any, let me know what your great book finds about shadow work are in the comments. 

Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by: Robert A. Johnson

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Jungian psychology analyst and author, Robert A. Johnson, encourages us to accept and honor our shadow in the book Owning Your Own Shadow. While our shadow never goes away, it does turn up from time to time.

How great would it be if every time it turned up it wasn’t a negative experience? In this book you’ll learn what the shadow is, how it originates, and much more for your personal growth. 

Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life by Connie Zweig and Steven Wolf 

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If you’re ready to live your most authentic life you’ll want to pick up this excellent book. In Romancing the Shadow, the authors use both the teachings of psychologist Carl Jung, and their own work to show readers how the shadow affects all areas of life.

Achieving greater self-acceptance, cultivating compassion for others, and finding purpose in your suffering, are just some of what you can learn from this book.

The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning Your Story by: Debbie Ford

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Author Debbie Ford believes that the shadow holds the key to our happiness. In the book The Secret of the Shadow she uses case studies, exercises, and more to help us find the positive message within our shadow.

If you are ready to own your whole story, you’ll want to order this book.

A Guide To Shadow Work: A Short And Powerful 9 Step Guide To Healing by: Michelle L Geldenhuys

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If you’re looking for a short, action-packed guide to shadow work, this amazing book would be it.

In A Guide To Shadow Work, author Michelle Geldenhuys shares nine steps to follow for inner healing. She’s personally gone through this healing journey through the nine steps she lists in her book. So you know that what you are reading has been researched and applied. 

“I myself have been working with my own shadows for most of my life and can say with humbleness and pride that although there were times when my shadow completely overcame me, I have learnt to embrace every inch of what is me and I have found the key to liberation from the torment of this inner shadow.” – Michelle Geldenhuys

A Little Book on the Human Shadow by: Robert Bly

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This book is a little different than the others on this list.

Robert Bly combines both essays and poems in this book. A Little Book on the Human Shadow explores what the shadow is and why it’s important to confront it.

The combination of the different writing styles is sure to have you thinking as you see writing about the shadow in a new perspective. 

Shadow Work Guidebook: Steps to Becoming Whole by: Jessica Cross

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Author Jessica Cross approaches shadow work from a more gentler perspective. In the Shadow Work Guidebook you’ll be introduced to her seven step process that guides you through shadow work gradually using self care and meditation.

This would be a great place to start if you are unsure about doing shadow work. Even if you just want to test it out in a safe, easy, healthy way. By going through this guidebook you’ll be on your way to becoming your whole self.

Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature edited by: Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams 

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This book is actually a collection of essays. You’ll read thoughts and findings about the shadow from people like Carl Jung, Robert Bly, Maggie Scarf, Audre Lorde, and more within the 65 different essays in Meeting The Shadow.

You’ll learn more about the shadow and find out how to awaken your consciousness to your own shadow so that you can begin your shadow work.

It has gotten great reviews over the years as well, being called “life-changing,” “fascinating,”  “eye-opening,” and more. 

Shadow Work Journal and Workbook: The Comprehensive Guide for Beginners to Uncover the Shadow Self & Become Whole as Your Authentic Self | Guided Prompts for Inner Child Soothing, Healing & Growth by: Victoria Stevens

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For my last recommendation I’m actually going to be sharing a shadow journal/workbook with you. In this Shadow Work Journal, author Victoria Stevens helps us learn to embrace our shadow and become whole.

You’ll find experts’ quotes, interactive activities, positive affirmations, meaningful pictures, and more in this guide of shadow work exercises. 

In Summary: Best Books For Shadow Work

The benefits of shadow work are endless–and shadow work goes deeper than personal development. Doing shadow work helps you become less triggered by others and more compassionate. One of the best ways to face negative emotions in your daily life is with acceptance and understanding.

Now you are well-versed in what shadow work is and why it is important. You also have the resources to continue learning about the subject, so now you’re ready to put in the work. I’d recommend doing shadow work with a therapist to get the most benefit. You can find a therapist located near you, or even find a virtual one if that is a better fit.

About the Author

Kelly Clark

Kelly graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Journalism. Even though it took her a little while to find her career path, she was always meant to be in Communications. She remembers writing poems and songs when she was a little girl and pitching to my parents the reasons why I should have a cell phone when I was a teenager. She currently has a blog (budding-joy.com) where she talks about her weight-loss journey, mental health and personal development. Her hope is to encourage and inspire readers and let them know they are not alone. Reading blog posts like that are what helped her in tough times and she wants to pay it forward. She loves dance fitness, listening to music, and creating layouts in her bullet journal. She’s a big fan of planning, especially when cute notebooks and pens are involved.
Her dream job has changed so much over the years; right now she’d love to co-own a dance studio.

Website: budding-joy.com