November 9th, 2008 3:39 PM by Lehel Szucs
Why Good People Do Bad Things
By Debbie Ford
Our headlines are full of stories of good people gone astray. They show up on the evening news, on the front page of newspapers, and splashed across the weekly tabloids. In many ways, these sad stories have become a national obsession. We're all so busy projecting on these people we see in the media. We think, "She's out of her mind," "He's an idiot," "Why would he risk everything?" We think we are judging the people whose fall from grace occurs in the heat of a national spotlight, but in reality we're just seeing ourselves. Countless acts of self-destruction and sabotage take place in our families, in our communities, in our circle of friends.
Most of us were taught that if we just wrap ourselves in enough layers, create a convincing enough persona, or hide behind an attractive enough mask, people won't discover (or, even more to the point, WE won't discover) that we are flawed, imperfect, and insecure. It's downright exhausting to keep hiding and denying parts of ourselves. Eventually, like a beach ball held under water, they pop up and snack us in the face. The act of hiding who we truly are and shaming the parts of ourselves that are less than perfect is what causes us to shut down, to disconnect, to be able to see our dreams but not be able to reach them. This is the birth of self-sabotage.
The Shadow Process is dedicated to helping people come into complete alignment with all parts of themselves. It is based on the understanding that each of us is a human being, and each of us is a divine being. We all have a multitude of different aspects -- some we love and some we hate -- but most of us were taught as children to hide and deny the "bad" parts of ourselves, to reject them, and suppress them. Let me give you an example.
Imagine that as a child I acted selfishly, eating all the cookies on the plate or wanting all the toys in the store. Depending on the reaction I received from those around me, I may have decided that my selfish self is bad. If, as an adult, I am uncomfortable with this side of myself, I will continue to try to hide, suppress, or camouflage this part of me. Maybe I decide it would be better to become a selfless human being who is always giving. Inside the restrictions of this belief, I can never say no because if I do, someone might discover that I'm selfish. So I'm a prisoner of my shame around being selfish. I have no freedom. Then I wind up being a people-pleaser, a caregiver, giving away my time and my energy, even when doing so compromises my health, my relationships, or my long-term goals. Then, when an opportunity arises that requires me to focus exclusively on myself, I find that I'm locked inside the persona that I created.
We all have aspects of ourselves that we run from. We say, "I don't want to be selfish like my mother. I don't want to be angry like my father," but the fact is, we are all angry and selfish at times. My work is about showing people how to come to terms with all aspects of their humanity, how to love the aspects of ourselves that we've hated so we are free to be who we are each and every moment of every day. At the crux of this journey is self-love. When we love and accept all parts of ourselves, we establish inner alignment. And of course, when we have alignment in our inner world, everything shifts -- the way that we see ourselves, the way that we see other people, the way we treat people in relationship, and the way we relate to the global world.
Three things are guaranteed when you make peace with your shadow: The first guarantee is self-confidence. Most people are riddled with doubt and a feeling that they are not good enough in some area of their lives. The moment we find the gifts and the blessings of the so-called flawed parts of ourselves, we lift them out of the darkness of our shame body and use them to move us forward. The second guarantee is peace, a deeply quiet mind, and liberation from the internal noise that most of us listen to day in and day out. And the third thing I can promise that you will receive when you embrace your shadow is the freedom to be yourself, to set boundaries, to say no instead of yes when you don't want to do something. When you no longer have to hide parts of yourself out of fear, you'll have the license to be fully self-expressed and to follow your heart.