Embracing your “Shadow Side”


My mom was helping me brainstorm a topic for today’s article. When I mentioned that February 2nd is Groundhog Day, my mom looked up and said, “Hey, if you’re talking about Groundhog Day, just like the groundhog looks for his shadow, you could talk about the importance of embracing one’ shadow side.”

I wasn’t familiar was this term, so my mom gave me Debbie Ford as a reference.

Debbie Ford, co-author of “The Shadow Effect” with Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, believes that one of the most important principles we will ever learn is this: The way you feel about yourself on the inside determines what you create for yourself on the outside. “In other words, your external world is a direct reflection of your internal world,” explains Ford.

As a recovered drug addict, Ford dedicated her life helping others understand the importance of befriending their shadow side- not just the “good” parts of themselves.

What does the term “shadow” mean?

“Our shadow 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,” explained Ford on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

Why it’s important to recognize our shadow

“Our shadow can only wield its power over us when we keep it in the dark,” explains Ford, “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.” Ford explains that people often want to run away from their shadows, but running from one’s shadow is what trips people up and often cause self-sabotage.

Learn to embrace your shadow

Sadly, Debbie Ford lost her 10 year battle with cancer in 2013. Before she passed, she founded The Ford Institute, which has helped tens of thousands of people transform their lives in fulfilling and enriching ways. The Ford Institute’s website describes Debbie’s journey this way: “Debbie finally discovered that her greatness didn’t come from fixing herself. It didn’t come from eliminating parts of herself or burying them deep inside. Instead, it came from embracing herself- all of herself: the “good” and the “bad,” “positive” and “negative,” “acceptable” and “unacceptable.” The self of her dreams emerged the day she found out that there was gold hidden in her darkness, light hiding in her bad behavior and power hidden in the traumas of her past.”

Take-away from the late Debbie Ford:  

The shadow is really just a part of us that needs love, a part of us that has been wounded, ignored, and denied.  For us to be the fullest expression of ourselves and to manifest all we want in the outer world, it’s vital to find love and compassion for the totality of our humanity — our light and our dark aspects, the selfish and the selfless parts of ourselves, the kind and the angry, the brilliant and the stupid — not just parts of it.

Just as Punxsutawney Phil will be looking for his shadow today, forecasting the remaining days of winter- take some time to discover and befriend your own shadow, as it will help forecast a brighter future.

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