“Embracing our dark side gives us a new found freedom to be with the darkness in others. For when I can love all of me, I will love all of you.” – Debbie Ford
The late Debbie Ford (1955-2013) was a beautiful person. You could see it through her writing and also through her face that graced so many of her book covers. She exuded light, I think.
She was a courageous woman, and not just because she faced her cancer diagnosis with ferocity. Her work with shadow was groundbreaking and left not only a lasting impression on me (and millions of others) but created something I deeply admire and respect: a legacy. One day, I’ll write more about that subject, because I love it so much!
The Secret of the Shadow is Ford’s third book (out of nine) and the subtitle says it all: The Power of Owning Your Whole Story. This can only occur, she says, when we find our true essence. And that can only be found by seeing all of our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors… even those in the shadow.
She originally began her work with the concept of “shadow” in her book Dark Side of the Light Chasers. In it, she first asks the reader to realize that all humans have characteristics that some would call “bad” and “good.”
And at this point, I must stop and talk about that for a moment: Many disagree that the capacity for evil lives within us all. But I’ll tell ya… ride with me on a crowded highway and you’ll get a lesson quick about how a generally kind, compassionate person can go from “now where’s my camomile tea?” to “I wish I had a flame-thrower” in two seconds flat! If you can’t accept this notion… the rest of the book and actually, any work on the shadow, will fall on deaf ears, I’m afraid.
Ahem, back to the book…
This book is a natural progression from that realization.
In her former work, it’s kind of like the puzzle pieces are taken apart and scrutinized. In this book, we put the pieces back together into a whole picture that includes shadow, light and the in-between.
So, what is the shadow? It is the part of ourselves that lies below the surface – generally. For some folks, I’d say it’s out there loud and clear. But for most of us, it’s the part we’d rather not have others know about or see.
According to Carl Jung, the Shadow is the side of our personality that we do not (at least consciously) display in public. If it remains unconscious, the shadow is often projected onto other individuals or groups.
Slight digression, and interesting note: According to Jung, the Shadow may be positive or negative. Interesting, right? My question then becomes: Why would a person NOT want to display a positive quality? Maybe for another day?
Jumping back a paragraph to: “If it remains unconscious” … that is the tricky part. Also, this is how we get back to Ford’s subtitle: The Power of Owning Your Whole Story”… because the only way to own your whole story is to bring the shadow out to a place where at least YOU can see it.
It really is such a fascinating and HUGE subject! If you agree, this book is a must-have!
This lovely woman died long before her work was finished and for that, I am heartbroken. But what she was able to accomplish was monumental and important. For that, I am thankful.