You and Your Shadow
Break free from all fears.
Published: April 3, 2012
by Debbie Ford
There is a gift behind the mask.
Most of us set out on the path to personal growth because at some point the burden of our pain becomes too much to bear. The Dark Side of the Light Chasers is about unmasking that aspect of ourselves which destroys our relationships, kills our spirit, and keeps us from fulfilling our dreams.
It is what Carl Jung called the shadow. It contains all the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny. It contains those dark aspects that we believe are not acceptable to our family, friends, and most important, ourselves. The dark side is stuffed deeply within our consciousness, hidden from ourselves and others. The message we get from this hidden place is simple: there is something wrong with me. I’m not okay. I’m not lovable. I’m not deserving. I’m not worthy.
Many of us believe these messages. We believe that if we look closely enough at what lies deep within us, we will find something horrible. We resist looking long and hard for fear of discovering someone we can’t live with. We fear ourselves. We fear every thought and feeling we have ever repressed. Many of us are so disconnected from this fear we can only see it by reflection. We project it onto the world, onto our families and friends, and onto strangers. Our fear is so deep that the only way we can deal with it is either to hide or deny it. We become so good at this we actually forget that we are wearing masks to hide our authentic selves. We believe we are the persons we see in the mirror. We believe we are our bodies and our minds. Even after years of failed relationships, careers, diets and dreams, we continue to suppress these disturbing internal messages. We tell ourselves we’re okay and that things will get better. We put blinders over our eyes and plugs in our ears to keep the internal stories we create alive. I’m not okay. I’m not lovable. I’m not deserving. I’m not worthy.
Instead of trying to suppress our shadows, we need to unconceal, own and embrace the very things we are most afraid of facing. By “own,” I mean acknowledge that a quality belongs to you. “It is the shadow that holds the clues,” says the spiritual teacher and author Lazaris. “The shadow also holds the secret of change, change that can affect you on a cellular level, change that can affect your very DNA.” Our shadows hold the essence of who we are. They hold our most treasured gifts. By facing these aspects of ourselves, we become free to experience our glorious totality: the good and the bad, the dark and the light. It is by embracing all of who we are that we earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world. As long as we keep hiding, masquerading, and projecting what is inside us, we have no freedom to be and no freedom to choose.
Our shadows exist to teach us, guide us and give us the blessing of our entire selves. They are resources for us to expose and explore. The feelings that we have suppressed are desperate to be integrated into ourselves. They are only harmful when they are repressed: then they can pop up at the least opportune times. Their sneak attacks will handicap you in the areas of your life that mean the most.
Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.
Debbie Ford is a transformational coach, speaker, and teacher. Debbie is the creator of the renowned Shadow Process Workshop, the executive producer of The Shadow Effect documentary, and founder of The Ford Institute, the world-renowned personal and professional training organization.