Wholeness Healing Today

The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of your True Self, a Book Review

“You never know when you will need a part of you that you have locked away.“

It seems as if I have been reading and rereading this book forever. In my work, I use a lot of the shadow awareness and it has been of significance in my personal life. So I am opting to write this review, with some excerpts from it, which I think are especially helpful.

In the introduction is the simple explanation of shadow: “The conflict between who we are and who we want to be is at the core of the human struggle”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 1) And later on, “Carl Jung called it the ‘sparring partner’; it is the opponent within us that exposes our flaws and sharpens our skills” (The Shadow Effect, p. 5) How simple and yet profound.

The first part is written by Deepak Chopra. He immediately writes, ”The first step in defeating the shadow is to abandon all notions of defeating it”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 14) He later writes, “You have only one self. It is the real you. It is beyond good and evil. The shadow loses its power when consciousness stops being divided”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 17). He later writes, “Duality is where you are. The shadow has surrounded you with a fog of illusion. Your split self is the first and most damaging illusion”. He then offers the process of removing the shadow’s power.

1) Stop projecting

2) Detach and let go

3) Give up self judgment

4) Rebuild your emotional body

(The Shadow Effect. P. 34-37) Chopra then devotes a great deal of his section explaining how to achieve those steps, ending with encouragement to acknowledge the shadow, forgive the shadow and embrace the gifts your shadow has created.

Part II is Debbie Ford’s section. Again, I will share what I found to be enlightening, reflective, or encouraging about the shadow. “If we embrace the qualities that disturb us in others, we will no longer be upset by them. We might notice them, but they won’t affect us. Those outlets will have cover plates over them, so they will no longer carry a charge. It is only when we are lying to ourselves or hating some aspects of ourselves that we become emotionally charged from someone else’s behaviors. “ (The Shadow Effect, p. 122) Oh yes, recognition is the start for that. Ford later writes, “ When you understand projection, you will never see the world the same way again. In this holographic world, everyone and everything is a mirror, and you are always seeing yourself and talking to yourself. If you choose, you can not look at what emotionally affects you as an alarm, a clue to uncover your shadow, a catalyst for growth that gives you an opportunity to reclaim a hidden aspect of yourself. Every shadow aspect you embrace will allow you to experience more love, more compassion, more peace, and a greater sense of freedom”. She then writes, “Ultimately, we must come to a place where we can uncover, own, and embrace every quality that exists, so that we no longer have to project our disowned aspects on others, so we can be free to see people through the wide lens of compassion rather than the illussional lens of projection”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 124-125)

Ford later writes, in The Gifts of Our Shadow section, “The shadow contains essential characters in the scripts of your life. Your job is to learn from the shadow, to integrate it, and allow it to evolve your thinking and expand the boundaries of your self-created persona. Your challenge is to find its value and to bring the light of forgiveness and compassion so that you can diffuse its ability to dismantle your life. Your job is to bring its complex characters out from the shadow, and to use their power and potency as sacred fuel to become who you were meant to be”. She follows that up with, “The point is you must forgive yourself for possessing all these human qualities and find a healthy respect and a healthy outlet for each and every aspect of yourself. You never know when you will need a part of you that you have locked away. You never know when a part of yourself that you deemed to be worthless will deliver the exact skill you need to make a difference for yourself or another”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 131)

Part III, written by Marianne Williamson, offers the following about the shadow: “It dos not appear, in most of our lives, as a gigantic fire, but simply as a slow burn. It is you when you make the stupid remark, hurting someone you love and possibly ruining a relationship. Or when you do the stupid thing that sabotages your career. Or when you pick up the drink, although you know you’re an alcoholic and that if you continue doing this, it will kill you. In other words, it is the you within you that does not wish you well. It is your shadow, and it can only be eliminated by shining forth your light.” (The Shadow Effect, p. 147-148)

After some examples later, Williamson writes, “And that is the shadow’s challenge to us: that we reach so high for the light above – the deep sanity of a higher power and a more loving perspective – that the shadow itself is rendered powerless.” (The Shadow Effect, p. 159) After encouragement to look gracefully at ourselves, our actions and behaviors, she writes, “It takes courage to deeply look at ourselves, but we can’t have real freedom and peace until we do. That’s why we want to be careful not to overemphasize a quick and easy trip to happiness. Enlightenment gets us to joy, but not immediately. First we must face the sorrow that stands in front of it”. (The Shadow Effect, p. 169)
After all the words of wisdom from these three experts, there is a Shadow Effect Test at the End. The scoring helps you to gauge your internal beliefs and your present work on yourself. I found that to be fairly accurate, reflecting work done and work to do.

In my practice, for a long time, I have carried a compact mirror, which I use to remind myself that often my words to others are reflective of my “stuff”, and I have found it quite helpful to guide clients in realizing their shadow pieces. Working on the shadow part is often deep, difficult, and yet so rewarding. This book is a great roadmap through the process. I highly recommend it, as I return to the writing often to clarify parts I want to integrate and internalize much more fully.

Works Cited:
Chopra, Deepak, Ford, Debbie, Williamson, Marianne. (2010) The shadow effect. Harper Collins Publishers. New York, NY.



  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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