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The Shadow Work Journal by Keila Shaheen - Review, Summary, Analysis & Facts

The Shadow Work Journal by Keila Shaheen

Table of Contents:

1. Book Details

Full Title:

The Shadow Work Journal: A Guide to Integrate and Transcend your Shadows


Self Help


Journal, Workbook

Number of Pages:

138 pages

Author - Who Wrote?

Keila Shaheen

Publication Date:

November 2, 2021

Country & Original Language:

United States - English

2. Synopsis

"The Shadow Work Journal" by Keila Shaheen is a self-help workbook that gained immense popularity through TikTok. Inspired by the ideas of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the journal guides readers through various prompts and exercises aimed at exploring their unconscious or repressed aspects, known as the "shadow." The exercises include activities like mirror gazing, gratitude lists, and wound mapping to help individuals delve into their inner selves. While the book has become a bestseller, its success has sparked debates about its effectiveness, with some praising it as a valuable tool for introspection, and others critiquing it for oversimplifying psychological concepts. The author, Keila Shaheen, has attracted attention for outselling even prominent figures like Oprah, despite not having formal credentials in psychology.

3. Summary

"The Shadow Work Journal" by Keila Shaheen is a self-help workbook that has gained significant attention and popularity, especially through TikTok. Released in 2021, the book has climbed the ranks to become a bestseller on platforms like Amazon. The author, Keila Shaheen, draws inspiration from the ideas of the renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung, particularly focusing on the concept of the "shadow" – the unconscious and repressed aspects of an individual's personality.

The central theme of the book revolves around the practice of "shadow work," which involves confronting and integrating suppressed parts of the self. The journal aims to guide readers through a journey of self-discovery, shedding light on the darker corners of their psyche for healing, acceptance, and wholeness.

The book is structured as a workbook, presenting readers with a variety of prompts and exercises designed to explore different facets of their emotions, experiences, and inner selves. Some of the activities include mirror gazing, gratitude lists, and "wound mapping," where readers identify their inner-child wounds by circling statements related to struggles and challenges they may have faced.

One of the notable aspects of the book is its popularity on TikTok, where users share their experiences with the journal, creating a viral sensation. The platform has played a crucial role in the book's success, with numerous videos featuring testimonials, reviews, and reactions to the exercises. The engaging and accessible nature of TikTok has allowed "The Shadow Work Journal" to reach a wide audience, especially among younger generations.

Despite its popularity, the book has faced criticism and skepticism, particularly regarding its effectiveness and the qualifications of the author. Keila Shaheen is not a licensed therapist but rather a 24-year-old with bachelor's degrees in psychology and marketing. Some mental health professionals and critics argue that the book oversimplifies complex psychological concepts and may not be a substitute for professional therapy.

The exercises in the journal include fill-in-the-blank prompts, letter-writing activities, and reflections on personal experiences. Critics argue that these activities may be too simplistic and not comprehensive enough for addressing deep-seated emotional issues. One reviewer expressed difficulty in connecting some of the prompts to emotional wounds, stating that they felt too simple.

The journal suggests that childhood experiences or relationships with parents are often the root causes of psychological pain. However, critics point out that while family dynamics can have a significant impact, there are other factors such as neurodivergence (e.g., ADHD) that may contribute to emotional challenges. The book's focus on certain aspects may lead individuals to look for solutions in the wrong places.

One of the criticisms revolves around the abundance of advice presented in the book, covering topics like mind traps, self-care tips, and explanations of shadow work. Some argue that the information is presented in a way that feels overwhelming, lacking the guidance on long-term commitment and steady progress required for genuine personal growth.

Another notable critique is the absence of encouragement for actual therapy within the book. Despite its emphasis on self-exploration, the journal doesn't explicitly recommend seeking professional help or therapy, which some argue is a limitation, especially for individuals dealing with more complex mental health issues.

The length and repetitiveness of the journal have also been cited as reasons for its perceived shortcomings. Some readers found the exercises tedious and repetitive, with multiple fill-in-the-blank prompts and long letter-writing sections that felt monotonous. The lack of guidance on how to balance personal desires with interpersonal relationships is another aspect that critics feel is missing from the book.

On a more positive note, supporters of the book appreciate it as a gateway to self-exploration and mental health awareness. Many credit it as a useful introduction to the concept of shadow work, making it an approachable first step for those who may be hesitant to explore therapy. The journal is seen as a tool that normalizes mental health self-exploration and encourages individuals to delve into their own psyches.

In comparison to other mental health workbooks, some readers find "The Shadow Work Journal" to be thinner and simpler. Alternatives are suggested, such as workbooks tailored to specific conditions like ADHD or books that provide more specific prompts and relatable stories from licensed therapists. The consensus among critics is that personal growth is a journey that requires time, commitment, and the guidance of experienced professionals.

In summary, "The Shadow Work Journal" has become a cultural phenomenon, especially on platforms like TikTok, where it has gained widespread attention. The book offers a structured approach to exploring the shadow self, drawing inspiration from Jungian psychology. However, its success has sparked debates about its efficacy and whether it can truly replace traditional therapy. The book's simplicity, abundance of advice, and the author's lack of formal credentials have raised concerns among mental health professionals. Despite the criticisms, the journal has found a significant audience who see it as a valuable starting point for personal introspection and mental health exploration.

4. Analysis


  1. Accessibility and Engagement: The book's popularity on TikTok underscores its accessibility to a younger audience. The use of interactive exercises and prompts encourages active engagement, making the exploration of one's shadow self approachable.

  2. Integration of Jungian Concepts: The incorporation of Carl Jung's ideas, particularly the concept of the shadow, adds depth to the book. It introduces readers to psychological concepts that might otherwise be overlooked in mainstream self-help literature.

  3. Normalization of Mental Health Exploration: By gaining traction on social media platforms, the book contributes to destigmatizing mental health exploration. It encourages individuals to delve into their psyches, fostering a culture of self-reflection and awareness.

  4. Empowerment and Personal Growth: Supporters of the book commend it for serving as a gateway to personal growth. The exercises are seen as empowering tools that allow individuals to take an active role in their mental health journey.


  1. Author's Credentials: One significant criticism revolves around the author's credentials. Keila Shaheen lacks formal qualifications in psychology or therapy, which raises concerns about the depth of understanding and guidance provided in the book. Critics argue that self-help literature, especially in the realm of mental health, should ideally come from trained professionals.

  2. Oversimplification of Psychological Concepts: Some mental health professionals argue that the exercises in the journal oversimplify complex psychological concepts. The fill-in-the-blank prompts and general advice may not adequately address the nuanced and multifaceted nature of individuals' emotional struggles.

  3. Lack of Emphasis on Professional Therapy: While the book promotes self-exploration, it doesn't explicitly encourage seeking professional therapy. Critics contend that for individuals dealing with deeper emotional issues or mental illnesses, the journal may fall short as a standalone solution.

  4. Repetitiveness and Lack of Depth: The book has been criticized for its repetitiveness and lack of depth in addressing long-term personal growth. Some readers find the exercises tedious and feel that the information provided lacks the necessary depth for sustained self-improvement.

  5. Potential for Misinterpretation: The metaphorical nature of Jungian concepts, such as the shadow, could be misinterpreted by readers, leading to a misunderstanding of their psychological complexities. This could result in a surface-level engagement with the material rather than a deep, meaningful exploration.

Key Points:

Introduction to Shadow Work:

  • Defines shadow work as the practice of confronting and integrating suppressed parts of oneself.

  • Aims to shine a light on the darkest corners of the psyche for healing, acceptance, and wholeness.

Author's Background:

  • Keila Shaheen, a 24-year-old author, lacks formal qualifications in psychology or therapy.

  • Her background includes degrees in marketing and psychology, as well as work experience at TikTok.

TikTok Sensation:

  • Gained popularity on TikTok, particularly through the handle @zenfulnote.

  • Hundreds of video testimonials and links to the book, creating a significant online presence.

Book Content:

  • "The Shadow Work Journal" includes interactive exercises, fill-in-the-blank prompts, and guided pages.

  • Covers the history and tenets of shadow work before delving into self-guided activities.

  • Exercises include "wound mapping," staring at oneself in a mirror, and making a gratitude list.

Goals of Shadow Work:

  • Positive outcomes include healing generational trauma, increasing compassion, setting boundaries, and overcoming feeling "stuck."

Criticisms and Controversies:

  • Some mental health professionals express concerns about potential harm and the oversimplification of psychological concepts.

  • Critics question the book's efficacy compared to proven and effective mental health treatments.

  • The author's lack of advanced degrees in psychology or psychiatry is highlighted.

Popularity and Sales:

  • The book has become a bestseller on Amazon, reaching No. 1 on the "Best Sellers in Dreams" chart.

  • Significant sales on TikTok's shopping platform, with over 350,000 copies sold.

Potential Downsides of Self-Guided Journaling:

  • Mental health professionals caution against dedicating too much time to self-guided journaling, especially for those with mental illness or past trauma.

  • Emphasizes the importance of therapeutic support when engaging in deep emotional work.

Social Media Influence and Trends:

  • Acknowledges the influence of social media trends, particularly among the younger generation (Gen Z).

  • Raises awareness about the impact of internet-driven mental health trends on patient-doctor interactions.

Critique of Book's Legitimacy:

  • Some Christians and therapists express skepticism about the legitimacy of shadow work.

  • Questions raised about the evidence-based nature and potential dangers of engaging in shadow work.

Author's Response to Criticisms:

  • Keila Shaheen addresses criticisms and questions through her content, addressing concerns about the book's legitimacy and safety.

  • Emphasizes that the book is a tool for exploration, not a substitute for formal therapy.

Trend in Mental Health Content:

  • Highlights the prevalence of mental health content on social media platforms, influencing the perspectives and concerns of younger patients.

  • Encourages healthcare professionals to inquire about patients' online exposure when addressing mental health concerns.

5. Review

As someone who's always been intrigued by the realms of self-discovery and personal growth, I recently delved into the world of "The Shadow Work Journal" by Keila Shaheen. Skeptical yet hopeful, I embarked on a journey guided by TikTok's latest sensation, wondering if this self-help guide could truly unlock the mysteries of my own psyche.

First and foremost, the book's allure lies in its accessibility. Shaheen's writing style is approachable, making complex psychological concepts, particularly those inspired by Carl Jung, digestible for readers without an extensive background in psychology. As a 24-year-old without formal qualifications in the field, Shaheen brings a fresh perspective, infusing the book with relatable language and real-world examples.

The interactive nature of the journal is undoubtedly its strength. With exercises ranging from "wound mapping" to mirror-gazing, the book prompts readers to confront their suppressed emotions and hidden facets. The fill-in-the-blank prompts, such as recalling childhood experiences and emotional responses, act as stepping stones into the depths of one's consciousness.

The mirror exercise, in particular, was a revelation. Staring at my reflection for an extended period felt uncomfortable at first, but as the minutes passed, I found myself confronting aspects of my identity that often go unnoticed. The act of jotting down observations afterward was a cathartic experience, and it spurred a deeper level of self-reflection.

However, it's crucial to approach this journal with a discerning mind. While the exercises are thought-provoking, it's evident that the author lacks advanced degrees in psychology or psychiatry. This fact could be a potential drawback for readers seeking a more clinically validated approach to self-discovery.

The book's popularity on TikTok and its bestseller status on Amazon might be indicative of a broader societal trend toward seeking unconventional avenues for self-improvement. The rise of the journal within the context of social media's influence is both a testament to its appeal and a cause for caution. It underscores the need for individuals to balance trendy self-help tools with more traditional, evidence-based mental health practices.

In conclusion, "The Shadow Work Journal" is a worthwhile exploration for those interested in dipping their toes into the waters of self-discovery. The exercises are engaging, and the book serves as a gentle introduction to the concept of shadow work. However, it should be approached as a supplementary tool rather than a comprehensive guide. For a more in-depth exploration, especially when dealing with significant mental health concerns, seeking the guidance of a qualified mental health professional is advised.

So, do I recommend "The Shadow Work Journal"? Yes, with a caveat. If you're open to unconventional methods and view it as a starting point for self-reflection, it can be a valuable addition to your personal growth journey. Just remember, while shadows hold the potential for enlightenment, navigating them requires a delicate balance between self-exploration and professional guidance.

6. About the Author

Keila Shaheen, the creative force behind The Shadow Work Journal, delves into a diverse range of therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, energy psychology, and creative thinking. With certifications as a Sound Therapist, Sound Healer, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, Keila further extends her expertise through Dharma Yoga teacher training, showcasing a profound grasp of Yoga Asana and Buddhist philosophy.

Recognizing the constraints of conventional therapy, Keila embarked on a journey to explore alternative avenues for inner healing and cognitive transformation. In 2021, she established Zenfulnote, a platform dedicated to equipping individuals with tools for their healing odysseys. The Shadow Work Journal, a creation by Keila, serves as a guide for readers to unearth and mend the profound recesses of their subconscious. Garnering widespread attention on TikTok, the journal has also earned recognition in prominent publications such as Billboard and The Times.

7. Book Club Questions

Introduction to Shadow Work:

  • What were your initial thoughts about the concept of shadow work before reading the book?

  • Did your perception change after going through the journal prompts?

Personal Reflections:

  • Which journal prompt resonated with you the most, and why?

  • Share your experience with one specific activity that you found particularly insightful.

Integration of Jungian Theory:

  • How well do you think the book incorporates Carl Jung's theories on the shadow?

  • Do you believe the journal captures the essence of Jungian psychology?

Effectiveness of the Exercises:

  • Were there any activities or exercises that you found challenging or unhelpful?

  • Conversely, which ones did you find most effective in exploring your subconscious?

Application in Real Life:

  • Have you noticed any changes in your daily life or behavior after engaging with the shadow work exercises?

  • How has the journal impacted your self-awareness?

Comparison with Other Self-Help Resources:

  • If you've explored other self-help or mental health resources, how does "The Shadow Work Journal" compare?

  • Are there aspects you find unique or lacking?

Author's Background:

  • Considering Keila Shaheen's background in marketing and psychology, do you think her expertise influenced the book positively?

  • How does her unconventional path to authorship shape your perspective on the content?

Audience and Accessibility:

  • The book gained popularity through TikTok. Do you think this social media platform plays a crucial role in making mental health resources more accessible to a wider audience?

Critiques and Limitations:

  • What criticisms, if any, do you have regarding the book?

  • Are there areas where you believe the journal falls short in providing a comprehensive approach to shadow work?

The Future of Shadow Work:

  • Where do you see the future of shadow work in the realm of mental health and self-help?

  • Do you think more unconventional approaches like this journal will become increasingly popular?


  • Would you recommend "The Shadow Work Journal" to others? Why or why not?

  • Who do you think would benefit most from engaging with this book?

Community and Sharing:

  • If comfortable, share one personal insight or revelation you gained from the shadow work process. How did sharing your experiences with others, whether in the book club or beyond, impact your journey?

8. Reading Plan

Week 1: Pages 1-34 (Introduction and Section 1)

  • Day 1-2: Read the book's introduction and familiarize yourself with the author's background.

  • Day 3-5: Work through the prompts and exercises in Section 1, reflecting on your initial reactions and responses.

Week 2: Pages 35-69 (Section 2)

  • Day 6-9: Dive into Section 2, exploring the deeper aspects of shadow work presented in the prompts and activities.

  • Day 10: Take a break for reflection and consider any patterns or themes emerging in your responses.

Week 3: Pages 70-103 (Section 3)

  • Day 11-14: Engage with the prompts in Section 3, focusing on integrating and transcending your shadows. Consider how your understanding of your shadow evolves.

Week 4: Pages 104-138 (Conclusion and Final Thoughts)

  • Day 15-18: Read the conclusion of the book and review your journey through the shadow work prompts.

  • Day 19-21: Complete any remaining exercises and spend time reflecting on the overall impact of the shadow work process on your self-awareness.

Additional Tips:

  • Daily Journaling: Set aside time each day for journaling your thoughts, feelings, and responses to the prompts.

  • Discussion Breaks: If reading with a group, schedule weekly discussions to share insights and experiences.

  • Mindful Reflection: Embrace moments of quiet reflection between reading sessions to allow the material to resonate.

9. Facts & Curiosities

  1. TikTok Sensation: The book gained widespread popularity through TikTok, with users sharing their experiences and reactions to the shadow work prompts. The platform played a significant role in the book's success, making it a viral sensation.

  2. Author's Background: Keila Shaheen, the author, is a 24-year-old with bachelor's degrees in psychology and marketing. Despite not having advanced degrees in psychology or psychiatry, she has successfully created a mental health tool that resonated with a broad audience.

  3. Outselling Oprah: In September 2023, "The Shadow Work Journal" outsold every other book on Amazon, including renowned titles and even surpassing Oprah's book sales during that period.

  4. Jungian Influence: The book draws inspiration from the ideas of Carl Jung, a 20th-century psychoanalyst. Jung's concept of the "shadow," representing the hidden, repressed aspects of the personality, serves as the foundation for the journal's prompts and exercises.

  5. Engagement through Reflection: A key element of the book involves reflective exercises, such as staring at oneself in a mirror for an extended period and engaging in gratitude lists. These activities aim to help readers explore their subconscious and uncover hidden aspects of their personalities.

  6. Viral TikTok Videos: Numerous TikTok videos showcasing readers' emotional responses and revelations while completing the shadow work exercises have contributed to the book's popularity. Some videos have garnered millions of views, creating a community of individuals sharing their self-discovery journeys.

  7. Adaptation for Contemporary Audiences: While the journal is influenced by Jungian theory, Keila Shaheen has adapted the content for contemporary audiences, making shadow work more approachable and relatable to a diverse readership.

  8. Varying Reactions: Reader reviews highlight a range of emotions, from cathartic breakthroughs to moments of emotional challenge. Some users express the transformative impact of the journal, while others emphasize its emotionally challenging nature.

  9. Tool, Not Replacement: The author emphasizes that the journal is intended as a tool for individuals to explore their psyches and is not a replacement for formal analysis. Many therapists reportedly use it in their practices to delve deeper into clients' shadow selves.

  10. Reflective Parties: The book has inspired unique social experiences, with some individuals organizing "shadow work parties" where participants engage in reflective exercises together. This unconventional use showcases the book's influence on fostering introspection within social settings.

10. FAQ

Q1: What is "The Shadow Work Journal" about?

A1: "The Shadow Work Journal" is a self-help guide inspired by the ideas of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. It encourages readers to explore their subconscious, confront suppressed aspects of their personalities (referred to as the "shadow"), and gain a deeper understanding of themselves through reflective exercises and prompts.

Q2: How does the book incorporate Carl Jung's concepts?

A2: The book is influenced by Carl Jung's concept of the "shadow," representing hidden, repressed aspects of the personality. It adapts Jungian theory for contemporary audiences, offering over 30 journal prompts and activities to guide readers through the process of shadow work.

Q3: What kind of exercises are included in the journal?

A3: The journal includes a variety of exercises, such as staring at oneself in a mirror for extended periods, gratitude lists, and "wound mapping" activities. These exercises are designed to help readers uncover and confront their subconscious thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Q4: Who is the author, Keila Shaheen?

A4: Keila Shaheen is a 24-year-old author with bachelor's degrees in psychology and marketing. She gained widespread recognition for "The Shadow Work Journal," which became a bestseller on Amazon, surpassing even Oprah's book sales.

Q5: Is this book suitable for everyone?

A5: While the book has gained popularity, mental health professionals, including Dr. Willough Jenkins, caution that shadow work may not be suitable for everyone. Those struggling with mental illness or trauma may benefit more from professional therapy. It's essential to approach the book with a mindset of self-exploration rather than a substitute for therapy.

Q6: Can the journal be used as a replacement for therapy?

A6: Keila Shaheen emphasizes that the journal is a tool, not a replacement for formal analysis. Some therapists reportedly use it in their practices to aid clients in delving deeper into their shadow selves. However, it is not a substitute for comprehensive therapeutic engagement.

Q7: How did the book gain popularity?

A7: The book gained popularity through TikTok, where users shared their experiences with the shadow work exercises. TikTok videos showcasing emotional reactions to the journal went viral, contributing significantly to its success.

Q8: Are there any criticisms of the book?

A8: Yes, some critics, including mental health professionals, raise concerns about the book being used without proper guidance. Shadow work can be emotionally challenging, and some argue that it is best done under the supervision of a trained therapist.

Q9: Can I organize a "Shadow Work Party" with friends?

A9: Absolutely! Some readers have organized social events, often referred to as "Shadow Work Parties," where participants engage in reflective exercises together. It can be a unique and introspective social experience inspired by the book.

Q10: Where can I purchase "The Shadow Work Journal"?

A10: The book is available on various online platforms, including Amazon and other major book retailers. Additionally, the author's website may provide additional purchasing options and information about the book.

11. Books Related

If you enjoyed The Shadow Work Journal by Keila Shaheen and are interested in exploring related themes of self-discovery, psychology, and personal growth, here are some books that you might find intriguing:

  • "Man and His Symbols" by Carl Jung: Explore Carl Jung's ideas further in this accessible introduction to his theories, illustrated with examples from art and mythology.

  • "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle: Tolle explores the concept of living in the present moment and how it can lead to a fulfilling and enlightened life.

  • "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron: A classic in the realm of creativity and self-discovery, Cameron's book provides a 12-week program to unleash your creativity and overcome artistic blocks.

  • "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown: Brené Brown delves into the importance of vulnerability and how embracing it can lead to more meaningful connections and a fulfilling life.

  • "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck: Peck combines psychology and spirituality to explore the journey of personal and spiritual growth, emphasizing discipline and love.

  • "You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero: Sincero's book is a motivational guide that combines humor and practical advice to help readers overcome self-doubt and create a life they love.

  • "The Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer: Singer explores the concept of inner freedom and how letting go of limitations can lead to profound spiritual experiences.

  • "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz: Ruiz shares ancient Toltec wisdom and presents four agreements that can lead to personal freedom and a fulfilling life.

  • "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk: For those interested in the intersection of psychology and the body, van der Kolk explores how trauma affects the body and ways to heal.

  • "The Wisdom of Insecurity" by Alan Watts: Watts explores the concept of embracing uncertainty and insecurity as a path to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.


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