“It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are without any self-deception or illusion that a light will develop out of events by which the path to success may be recognized.” – The I Ching
Over a decade ago, my life began a dramatic change because of the book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. I was introduced to the Shadow—how it was created, how it manifested and why it was causing me an incredible amount of emotional pain.
Through Debbie’s teachings and exercises, I became a healed, whole individual—and I’m incredibly grateful to her.
In the DVD The Shadow Effect, Debbie Ford—along with Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, David Simon, James Van Praagh, Brent Becvar and others—explains the Shadow and how it rears its head in relationships and celebrity culture.
The Shadow, says Debbie, results from the suppression of childhood messages or environment. It’s those parts of our personality that we don’t wants others to see, impulses that we find distasteful, unacceptable or repulsive. Our wounded egos then manufactures a mask, a whole new package or persona, that we believe will earn us the love and acceptance we hunger for.
The creation of the persona and the suppression of urges we deem shameful or “wrong” causes a psychological and behavioral split between our public life and our private life. In fact, the deeper we try to suppress the Shadow or the harder we try to deny it, the greater the pressure for “acting out” with destructive tendencies. When we deny ourselves an outlet for those parts that were shamed or deemed “bad”, inappropriate or undesirable, they can “pop up” like submerged beach balls—often when we least expect it, and at the worst times.
Noting that the most self-righteous people tend to have the greatest Shadow, Debbie points to examples like Eliot Spitzer—the zealous DA whose personal mission was to bust and prosecute prostituted, only to be outed by a high-priced call girl for his repeated business.
She also cites the Catholic Church as an example, for they condemn homosexuality but shelter pedophile priests. Thus, a collective shadow can manifest in a group or society when its members are in denial or enraged, resulting in terrorism, injustice, inequality and so on.
Our masks take on many forms, and the Shadow Effect DVD shows visuals of famous people and their personas (e.g. Bill Clinton as The Charmer, Dick Cheney as The Bully, Donald Trump as The Overachiever, Marilyn Monroe as The Seductress, Jack Black as The Jokester, Meg Ryan as the Good Girl, etc.).
Deepak Chopra explains the fascinating dichotomy of Light and Shadow, saying “In order to have manifestation, you have to have opposing energies” for, without them, “there would be no creative impulse.”
The Shadow hides, and if it’s not recognized, understood and integrated (often via forgiveness and self-acceptance), it gets projected outward by the unconscious. This is where sayings like “You spot it, you got it” come from, or “What you resist, persists”. As Debbie says, “What we judge in others is a disowned part of ourselves.”
The Shadow Effect DVD describes the connection between the brain and our behavior, as well as the toxic effects of negative emotions and thoughts on our health and organs as proven by hard science.
The most moving part of the DVD, though, was when various participants of Debbie’s past workshops shared their personal Shadows borne of shame and violation—including an Auschwitz survivor, a conflicted Japanese/Chinese American, a German woman ashamed of her country’s affiliation with Hitler and other powerful stories of transformation.
After these brave souls shared their process, Debbie shared her own transformation from a depressed, self-destructive drug addict to a powerful teacher; my husband, son and I clapped for her, and I had tears streaming down my face as we did.
As Debbie says in The Shadow Effect DVD, “I promise you, if you take this journey, you’ll experience more love, more happiness, than you ever have before.” As one who has taken this journey of relentlessly confronting the Shadow, I have to say I couldn’t agree more with this assessment.
I can’t recommend this DVD enough; it’s an excellent summation of Debbie Ford’s books and teachings, with additional profound insights by other spiritual teachers, medical doctors and metaphysicians on the power of our Shadow. As Debbie notes, “Our pain is not personal” and “We don’t need to hide our inner gold with clay”.
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