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

The Shadow Effect book cover
Photo: Courtesy of Debbie Ford
But our shadow can only wield its power over us when we keep it in the dark. And instead of something to be denied, feared or rejected, the shadow has our most treasured gifts: the essence of who we are. When we bring light to the darkness, we find the fundamental parts of our true self buried inside—our greatness, our compassion, our authenticity. And as we explore this part of ourselves we most feared, we become free—free to experience the full range of our humanness, free to bask in our glorious totality, free to choose what we do in this world. Our shadow delivers us the blessing of our entire self.

When we make peace with our shadow, our lives transform. We no longer have to pretend to be someone we're not. We no longer have to prove we're good enough. We no longer have to live in fear. Instead, as we find the gifts of our shadow and revel in all the glory of our true self, we finally find the freedom to create the life we have always desired.

"The shadow is not a problem to be solved or an enemy to be conquered, but a fertile field to be cultivated. When we dig our hands into its rich soil, we will discover the potent seeds of the people we most desire to be."

— Debbie Ford from The Shadow Effect book

The Shadow Effect: A 6-Week Breakthrough Plan
Debbie Ford will guide you through a six-week breakthrough plan to help you understand your mysterious shadow, how it effects the key areas of your life and what it has to teach you about yourself so that you can finally create the life you've always wanted.

Explore More on the Shadow Now:
Can you identify the shadow working in your life? Take the quiz! 
Watch Debbie explain what the shadow really is 

Debbie Ford is the New York Times best-selling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and The Secret of the Shadow. Her other national best-selling books include The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse, The Right Questions, Spiritual Divorce and The Best Year of Your Life. She collaborated with Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson for their book, The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self (HarperOne). She is the founder of the Ford Institute for Transformational Training. Visit her online at


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