You only have to gaze around you at the natural world to see the proof that beauty, form, order, and growth have survived for billions of years. In dealing with your shadow, you are aligning yourself with the same infinite power. The shadow isn’t a fearsome opponent, but a worthy one. Powerful as it is, the power of wholeness is infinitely greater, and by a miracle of creation it is within your grasp. —Deepak Chopra

The dark side of human nature has been called many things. Freud called it the ego. Cartoons portray it as the devil on your shoulder. In The Shadow Effect, authors—Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson—refer to it as the shadow. Regardless of the name by which we call it, there is no doubt that this element of our “self” is an important & powerful one.

The Shadow Effect dives deep into the realm of this human dark side and teaches how we can use its power to cultivate compassion, confidence, and courage to live our best lives. I have broken this review up into three actions that will help you make your “shadow” a guiding light in your own life.

1. Accept what is. I don’t claim to know all that much about love. I am not an expert by any means. On the other hand, my grandparents (who are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year) know quite a bit on the subject. The factor that has sustained their romance & love after all of these years is simple—acceptance.

True acceptance means loving a person for all of her beautiful traits and her terrible ones. True love is unconditional. It is the recognition that sometimes you will not like your partner’s actions; but you will always love her person. This is the key reason why my grandparent’s have been in love for sixty years and are still going strong. (Well, that and the fact that my grandmother is a saint.) 😉 Although my own current relationship is only three-years-old, I too have learned that unconditional acceptance is true love. After three years, I am just beginning to scratch the surface.

After reading The Shadow Effect, I realize that such unbridled acceptance of myself is just as important as acceptance of others. Self-love is critical to a life of happiness. Further, if I am going to truly love and accept myself, then I must love all of the parts of me—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The parts of ourselves we try to avoid may be hidden from our view, but they exist regardless. —Debbie Ford

I must recognize that there will be times when I am disappointed by my own actions; but I will still love & accept myself. We can live in harmony only when we come to terms with this truth and recognize the need for acceptance.

2. Understand duality. In my post, An Unexpected Encounter, I wrote about a conversation with a stranger/friend in which we talked about religion. In the conversation, I mentioned the fact that (like most of my generation) I am extremely spiritual but not very religious. I got into my old “religion is responsible for more death & war than money, politics, and hatred combined” speech. But then, he stopped me in my tracks. He hit me with an idea that I hadn’t previously considered: War is necessary. There is a great balance in the Universe and all things are necessary. Without bad there could be no good. Without hate there could be no love. And without war, there could be no peace.

This is the true nature of duality. On one hand, we praise certain aspects of ourselves such as intelligence, strength, and patience. And on the other hand, we hate certain aspects of ourselves such as ignorance, weakness, and frustration. But this is insane. We can not condemn these so-called flaws because without them our virtues would not exist. Without ignorance, there would be no intelligence; without weakness, there would be no strength; and so on.

We could never recognize a thing of beauty if we did not first recognize its opposite. In fact, these seeming dualities are actually one and the same. Weakness comes from the same circle as strength. Darkness comes from the same circle as light. And so on. Debbie Ford explains this beautifully in the book:

If we know courage, it is because we have also experienced fear; if we can recognize honesty, it is because we have encountered deceit.

3. Embrace the shadow & grow. True happiness occurs when you understand that what is meant to be will be. When you stop struggling against every element that you hate, dislike, fear, and so on, you will be able to focus on creating the life of your dreams. That is true happiness.

In order to stop resisting the will of the Universe, you must first embrace your whole self—shadow & light. When you accept both of these elements, you become like a plant that accepts water & sunlight, the elements necessary for growth. You will find yourself growing to heights higher than you ever imagined possible. When you accept what is, understand duality, and embrace the shadow, you will live a life of higher consciousness.

Higher consciousness is the answer—the only lasting answer—to the dark side of human nature. —Deepak Chopra

7 thoughts on “Review: The Shadow Effect”

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  5. Loving the bad and ugly in myself is the hardest part, though I can kind of see how, if I were to embrace that, how I might be happier than I am now. Great review of the book. You touched on a lot of things that got me thinking! Thanks for being on this tour!

    1. Hey Trish! Thank you so much for asking me to be a part of the tour. It was a pleasure. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      -Dena

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