Debbie Ford
Photo: Courtesy of Debbie Ford
Many people have a dark side or a bad habit they'd rather ignore than face. Maybe you overindulge in food, gossip or criticize others instead of looking at what's really going on. Debbie Ford explains how the shadow can affect your life.
Imagine there is a part of every human being that has the power to be our teacher, our trainer and our guide, leading us to strength, creativity, brilliance and happiness. Imagine this part of us is just waiting to be seen, to be heard and to be embraced. But it is not patient, and when left unexamined and ignored, this part of us has the power to sabotage our life, destroying our relationships, killing our spirit and keeping us from fulfilling our dreams. So what is this mysterious part of us, buried deep inside our consciousness? It is our human shadow.

Our shadow, formed long ago, contains all the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny, the parts we believe are not acceptable to our family, friends and, most importantly, ourselves. It is made up of everything that annoys, horrifies or disgusts us about other people or about ourselves. It holds all that we try to hide from those we love and all that we don't want other people to think about us or find out about us. As the great Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung says, our shadow is the person we would rather not be.

From its invisible home deep within our psyche, the shadow wields enormous power over our life. It determines what we can and cannot do, what we will be irresistibly drawn toward, and what we will do almost anything to avoid. It dictates our attractions and our repulsions and determines what we will love and what we will judge and criticize. Our shadow controls how much success we're entitled to create or how much failure we're doomed to experience. The shadow is an oracle that predicts all of our behaviors, driving the way we treat those around us—and how we treat ourselves.

How you can benefit from understanding your shadow

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