May 25, 2010

The Shadow Effect

Posted: 04:32 PM ET

by Debbie Ford, special to LKL blog

Debbie Ford is the author of eight books including the New York Times best-sellers The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, The Secret of the Shadow, Why Good People Do Bad Things and her latest book The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self, co-authored with Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson.  She is the founder of The Ford Institute for Transformational Training.  To learn more about her, to go her website:

The Shadow Effect is everywhere.  Evidence of its pervasiveness can be seen in every aspect of our lives. We read about it online. We watch it on TV, and this week we can examine it in the behavior of Sarah Ferguson, Lindsay Lohan, and Jesse James.

Why would the Duchess of York try to sell out her relationship with her children’s father? Why would Lindsay Lohan, after many warnings and consequences, continue to disobey the law for one more night of partying?  Why would Jesse James, the man that some of us would have deemed the luckiest guy in the world, do so many stupid things and throw it all away?

We can label it addiction or pathology, corruption or revenge. But we must dig deeper into what causes a person to do bad things and destroy their lives and the lives of those they love. When does the impulse arise to hurt oneself or another? When do the decisions get made that drive people to do inexplicable things?  Remember the old radio show adage, “The shadow knows.” Well maybe this is the truth.  The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called our darker side “the shadow,” the hidden, denied, and often feared parts of ourselves, the parts of ourselves that have been wounded and buried deep within our unconscious minds.  The birth of our shadow occurs when we are very young, before our logical thinking minds are developed enough to filter the messages we receive from parents, caregivers and the world at large.


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 explains the mystery of our attractions and our repulsions and determines what we will love and what we will judge and criticize in others. Our shadow influences our choices and our deep compulsions that override our logical thinking minds. It tells us how much money we are entitled to earn and determines whether we spend it wisely or piss it away like Sarah Ferguson. It is our shadow, our hidden self, that dictates how much success we’re entitled to create or how much destruction we’re doomed to experience like Lindsay Lohan.  The shadow determines how much love and connection we can receive or if we will destroy it in dishonest and violating acts of disloyalty like Jesse James. The shadow drives us to behave in ways that we never dreamed possible for ourselves. Unbeknownst to us, the shadow is the author of a prewritten script that springs into action in times of fear, pain, or conflict or when we don’t feel worthy of the success that we are experiencing. If left unexamined, our shadow will emerge from the darkness in the form of addiction and other self-destructive behaviors like lying, cheating, drinking, stealing and on and on.

If we do not counter the force of the shadow by examining, understanding and ultimately making peace with the part of ourselves, it can potentially wreak havoc on our lives and the world around us. We must be careful not to just point our fingers at others’ shadows because in doing so, we become trapped in the denial that tells us we ourselves could never be this out of control, unconscious or destructive, that we could never cause irreputable damage to ourselves and others, or that we could never be so weak to succumb to our own bad behaviors.  When we point our fingers, we fall prey to one of the biggest signposts for disaster – the arrogance and entitlement we see so beautifully displayed in our shadowy figures of the week.

Working with the shadow is counter-intuitive. It’s not something to be suppressed, hidden, conquered or numbed with drugs, cigarettes food or other substances because the shadow can’t be beaten down for long. As you may have noticed, most of our bad behaviors arise time and time again at the least opportune moments.   But we don’t deal with the shadow we’re scared. We’re scared that we’re going to find something so ugly and so horrible, we don’t know how to deal with it. The exact opposite is true. If we know that to be human is to have a shadow, then we can start to open up to the gifts and the wisdom that the shadow brings. When understood, the shadow supports us in becoming more loving and compassionate human beings. When embraced, the shadow allows us to learn from our past, to accept our insecurities, to let go of our resentments, and to uncover what Carl Jung would call the “gold in the dark.” The shadow becomes the teacher, the trainer and the guide that support us in uncovering a truer, more authentic self.

So as we watch a few more celebrities get caught in the trap of their own shadows, we might take a moment to reflect and see where our shadows may be lurking. And if we are brave enough, we can beckon them to come out so that we don’t have to get caught in the shadow effect.

Learn more in the New York Times bestselling book The Shadow Effect by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson. For more information, go to

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive

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Smith in Oregon   May 25th, 2010 5:43 pm ET

I applaud and support nearby Sonora, Mexico's posters showing Mexican soldiers and Federal police with binoculars watching Arizona citizens with the caption, 'Arizona, we are watching YOU'.

Arizona police and storm troopers are alarmed and stating those posters appear to mark Arizona residents.

YES they certainly do. Did the Arizona storm troopers think they could harass and beat the hell out of Hispanic people and not have Mexico take a very dim view of their sudden lack of humanity?

Frankly, the poster denotes white Arizona citizens that venture into Mexico can expect brutal and harsh treatment at the hands of the Mexican soldiers, Federal troops and Mexican people.

That is what the Republican and Tea Potty lawmakers wanted wasn't it?

Smith in Oregon   May 25th, 2010 5:47 pm ET

While the considerable diplomatic skills of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have settled down South Korea's response to North Korea allegedly firing a torpedo at a South Korean warship, sinking it and killing several sailors, South Korea has moved to a psychological war response.

Despite repeated North Korean warnings, South Korea has begun broadcasting defection propaganda thru speakers, radio stations and bill boards mounted on the massive border crossing.

North Korea has specifically stated they would fire their artillery at any border crossings that have speakers blasting defection propaganda from. Obviously with the sudden drop in the North Korean currency and the Asian Stock Markets, this is seen across the Orient as a serious development.

It is entirely likely North Korea will fire their artillery on border crossings that have active speakers promoting North Korean civilians to defect to South Korea. China is urging patience, however thanks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, South Korea has time on her side.

Will North Korea blink, or open up with her artillery at the billboards and speakers on the border crossings promoting defection to South Korea? Many Millions of civilians residing in Seoul, South Korea are within range of North Korean artillery batteries. If North Korea open's up with selected artillery barrages, this razor edge stalemate could almost immediately escalate.

I wonder why China is sounding confident that peace will continue?

NathalieJG   May 25th, 2010 6:40 pm ET

We human being like to learn by suffering first. Why are we like that, I do not know! I still do not understand!
But, I suppose we have chosen to experience who we are that way!

Indeed the shadow could become the guide that help us to discover our true self as long as we are not alienated to it.


john doe   May 25th, 2010 6:49 pm ET

What you call "SHADOW"!!! I call it "EVIL"!!! When bad people win "A LOT" The "GOOD" alway's get's shoved aside!!! We are tired of it, We need to try to do better so the children can learn from this!!! They aren't!!! Parent's don't teach!!! School's don't teach!!! We are a bunch of fool's!!! USA is the way!!!

karen   May 25th, 2010 6:59 pm ET

I just brought the book today and it has already given me food for thought.........Really look forward to what I am going to learn........

IKHAN   May 25th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

@Smith in Oregon
what is playing out on the Korean peninsula is serious but we Americans inundated with un-ending worries of our own & troubled by choppy waters rocking our boat would rather not see beyond our borders.Perhaps at times only to squint our eyes trying to see what the propagandists want us to see in Iraq or Afghanistan.
@Smith in Oregon. Whats going on on the US-Mexico border is just the ripple effect of Arizonian mischief.What goes around comes around.
There is analogy also to this.We wage wars in far flung regions & then wring our hands in exasperation & anger when the population in those regions hate us. Oh! Our innocence!

Rory Kelly Connor   May 25th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

Debbie, As mentioned to you at the NYC book launch event, you are helping to change the world one person at a time. Kudos to you, Deepak and Marianne for bringing this more prominently into the Light, letting us see into our own darkness. We are all so often our own worst enemies, destroying with our own hands what we love, cherish, keeping love at bay. I see this with the clients I coach and many people I love. I have been captive to the Shadow as well. Thank you, thank you for the work you do in this world, teaching us to see and love ourselves and others in our totality. Only then is healing possible for each one of us and the world. Much love, Me

DrMark   May 25th, 2010 11:12 pm ET

How many people have read the 10-page Arizona law? Not the administration officials who condemned it and threatened to take it to court – this, in spite of failing to fulfill their responsibility to protect the borders of AZ, with 500,000 illegal immigrants, many of whom are fine people but unfortunately many of whom are also criminals. Crime is skyrocketing in AZ. Phoenix is the kidnapping capitol of America. Drug violence is bleeding north into their state – all due to illegal aliens who are also violent criminals. The AZ law is basically the federal law written on a state level because the feds are not doing their job. How many have compared the AZ law to Mexico's anti-immigration law? The AZ law simply states that if someone is stopped for suspicion of crime or a traffic violation, they can be asked for their immigration status. It specifically states that no one can be stopped without cause. If they are illegal, what is the result? – they are turned over to the border patrol. Compare that to the severe (and racist by our standards) Mexican anti-immigration law, which includes imprisonment for much less offense than what those in AZ have been tolerating for far too long. But where are the complaints about the grotesque, harsh Mexican anti-immigration law? The reasonable AZ action has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with protection against crime. Citizens of Arizona, most of America is with you. We understand your desperate situation, empathize, and stand with you. You have tolerated skyrocketing crime, intimidation, bleed-over drug violence, and kidnapping fears without the rest of the country giving a flip. Now ignorant voices of political correctness gone awry chastise your efforts to deal with the failure of the federal government to protect your borders. Perhaps all those who are complaining about your law should take the criminal and drug elements of the illegal aliens from your airports, schools, back yards, and front lawns into their own.

claudia   May 25th, 2010 11:20 pm ET

It would be wonderful if high schools could introduce the study of Debbie Ford's book, The Shadow Effect. It could give teenagers an insight into what triggers their behaviour and become aware of creating a future for themselves of peace and joy.

MsAngel   May 26th, 2010 12:02 am ET

It would be wonderful if high schools could introduce the study of Genesis 3 and Romans 7. It could give teenagers an insight into what triggers their behaviour and how to create a future for themselves of peace and joy.

Dodie   May 26th, 2010 12:23 am ET

@ Smith in Oregon

Most often China is the precipitating factor in negotiations between the DPRK and South Korea. If you notice, North Korea has stopped underground nuclear testing. That is because China said "enough" Neither South Korea or the DPRK want to argue with China. Only 225 miles between Pyongyang (capitol of DPRK) and Dalian, China. Only 280 miles between Seoul and Qingdao, China. You can hear the Chinese Air Force fighter aircraft patrol up and down the coast of China every day. China has many underground military bases most nuclear that are less than 225 miles from the capitol of the DPRK.

These are probably some of the reasons China is confident there will be no full scale war between the two countries.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   May 26th, 2010 4:46 am ET

Interesting This Shadow Effect theory. I think I can go along with some of it, but not all of it. Does give one food for thought though.

Another description for it could be called dealing with your inner demons and self-sabotage or our dark side.

Beatrice   May 26th, 2010 1:58 pm ET

DrMark: I am a Mexican-American who wonders where were you when my American born and legal American cousin was almost deported to Mexico? What many Americans who are not Latin American fail to see and understand is that Law Enfocement in the USA is done by humans. Some of those humans do not care if you are here legally or illegally – they want you out of this country and their areas. Some of those Law Enforcement persons will go with any excuse to try to deport you. Tell me, do you carry papers that prove you are here legally and are an American. Most Latin Americans have to carry papers because Law Enforcement is sometimes to ready to throw you out of the country first and investigage later. And for your information this almost happened to my cousin in the 1970s. So this is not new to us. We know exactly what we need to worry about as citizens in this country. First walk a mile in my shoes. Then talk. There is nothing reasonable about the AZ law – nothing at all. And if you are going to throw stones please study your history. Americans invaded Mexico during the 1800s and 1900s. And in the 1930s many legal Americans of Mexican descent were forcibly deported to Mexico who had never even visited Mexico before they were deported there. So please study your history and then speak out.

john   May 26th, 2010 6:18 pm ET

larry tell them BP that they could put liued nitrogen down that hole in the golf and plug it up now.

Rochelle Schwarz   May 26th, 2010 8:04 pm ET

I've been with Debbie Ford from the very beginning since 1995, I did the first Shadow Process Weekend. Previously I did other things, but when I got to the shadow process it all made sense to me.
So when Debbie decided to form The Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, there I was first or almost first in line. I wanted to get this work out into the world. It's been almost 10 years and Boy O Boy It's So Exciting to see all the transformation and healings that are going on in this world. Get The Shadow Effect and give it out as a gift, it'll be the best gift that you can gift to someone else.
With Much love

Samantha   June 2nd, 2010 3:26 pm ET

geez what dribble

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