"SECRET OF THE SHADOW" by Debbie Ford 

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Additional thoughts of Graham White in highlights

"Why doesn't anyone love me?  What's wrong with me?  Nobody loves me.  I can't do this.  I'll never be happy.  I'm too ugly.  My life doesn't matter.  I don't know anything.  I don't know what I'm talking about so I'd better keep my big mouth shut.  No one cares about me.  I'm too stupid.  I'm not special.  I'm unworthy.  I'm not important.  I'm unlovable.  I'm lazy.  Poor me, poor me, poor me."

Your life has become a "story".  Get out of your story!  Sitting in silence is proof enough that your story has complete power over you.  Even many people who are highly regarded as professionals in their field have stories of fear that they weren't good enough.

Living inside the confines of your story, you spend hours each day distracting yourself with work, TV, food, shopping, sex or addictions.  You daydream about projects and plan endlessly without getting anywhere.  You're always "getting ready" to take action, but never step into the arena to make it happen because ultimately you're afraid you will fail.  You don't share your grand dreams with others because you're afraid they will tell you you can't do it.  Inside your story, you feel small in an overwhelming world.

Outside your story you begin to open your heart and expose your true feelings to those around you.  You share your plans for the future with people without fear.  You spend as much time planning as you do taking action and you are in the habit of trying new things.  You feel worthy of influencing the lives of others because you have confidence about the life you're living.

Our stories have a purpose.  Even though they set our limitations, they also help us define who we are so we don't feel completely lost.  We stay in our stories so we can hold on to the comfort of what we know.  When life gets difficult, at least we can count on the predictability of our stories.

Our greatness and our potential are so valuable that we pile layer on top of layer to protect that which is ours to guard because we don't feel safe to expose this part of ourselves.  When we feel we are worthy and can trust ourselves to achieve our potential, we can begin to unleash the power of our true nature and get outside our limiting story.

The world needs you.  Have you noticed that you're needed?  Have you noticed that we could really use your help?  In order to feel safe enough to bare your gifts, you must give up judging yourself and judging others.  You must allow yourself to stop living a life dictated by your past, without judgments and justifications.  

The worst feeling is to feel like a "nothing", that our lives and our existence doesn't matter.  We would rather endure being an unlovable person that someone who no one even notices or cares about.  In a desperate attempt to give our lives meaning, we create and then repeat our stories.  Then, gradually and unwittingly, we actually become our dramas.  Be become invested in keeping our stories alive, and in the process we unknowingly become victims of the stories we created to protect our secret: We become victims.

If we aren't our stories, then who are we?  We fear that if we let go of our stories, we will lose our identities.  Our stories are like old friends.  Even if they talk too much, at least we know what we are getting.  We choose the comfort of what we know so we don't have to face the terror of what we don't know.  Beneath the surface is a deep discontent about the false self we have created and the story that goes along with it.  

The identity we are chasing--is not who we are; it's the false self we've created to define ourselves.  Our stories are where our false selves reside.  We engage in this charade because it allows us to hold on to the illusion that we are really separate and individual beings.

It's a game you can't win.  It's a game of "if Only": "If only I were rich, famous, healthy, smarter, wiser, faster, shrewder, or younger, I'd be able to win this game and find the happiness I deserve."  "If only I knew more people, had a better job, or had my own business, I would have what I need and be happy."  "When I get my new house, new car, new mate or new clothes, I will feel so good."  "If only I were appreciated, respected, loved, or seen, I would fulfill my deepest desires."

Maybe your game is about getting rid of something.  "If only I weren't so selfish, fat, lazy, angry, bitter, tired or broke."  If only my children, husband, or mother would stop acting out."  Or the big ones: "When I finally arrive at my perfect body weight or find my life purpose, I will be content."

This is an unwinnable game.

We work day and night trying to manipulate, strategize and figure out ways to win the "If Only" game.  But the game lives inside our story.  It was developed to keep us occupied and busy and give us a reference point for our individual identities.  But, if we are willing to look, we will see that the game is nothing more than a decoy, hiding what is real, covering up our true essence.  To end this struggle we must see that much of what we believe about ourselves is just a story.

Until we come to terms with who we are and why we are here, we will remain trapped inside the smallness of our personal dramas.

It's only when we're GIVING our gifts and living our purpose that we begin to be fulfilled.  Without a life of giving, we aren't fulfilled.  We may fill ourselves to a degree with money, relationships, activities, sex, drugs, food etc, but we aren't fulfilled until we're GIVING our gifts.  

You can even be LIVING your gifts, but until you're GIVING your gifts, you won't be fulfilled.

You can only give your gifts more fully when you develop the weakest area of balance in your life.

Fulfillment is not a "feeling".  Have you ever had the experience where you were feeling pretty lousy about your circumstances until you suddenly became aware of someone who had it much worse?  Or how about the times you're feeling great about what you've accomplished, only to see a peer who has far surpassed you?

Fulfillment is not a feeling, it is a state of being.  You are responsible only for YOU.  How are you doing with YOU, not in relation to anyone else, but just in relation to YOUR potential and responsibilities?

YOUR LIFE HAS A DIVINE PLAN

Each of us has a unique purpose that only we can achieve.  The things that have made us who we are and given us the abilities, interests and experience we have are different for each one of us.  Our challenges created opportunities to learn and grow from.  We either chose to learn from our challenges, or become victims of them.  If we're strong enough, we can even learn from the challenges others have had.

It's fairly easy to see how your positive attributes contribute to your unique purpose.  You can appreciate how your talents, abilities and dreams have added to your life and to the person you've become.  But the traumatic events in your life--the experiences that left wounds within you-- are an equally important part of the mix that will help you become all that you can be.

Our past is an undeniable part of who we are.  The only choice we have to make is whether we are going to use them or they are going to use us.  We all suffer from the pain of our challenges.  It is extraordinary people who choose to use their pain to contribute to the world.  

I've chosen to use my past to write books, contribute to others and to earn a living.  In order to do what I'm doing today, I needed to suffer endlessly for 26 years and then learn from my past; heal the pain and help others learn to transcend their suffering.  I would not have this opportunity without the suffering.  

Describe your life's most painful incident.  Begin to deal with it, grieve the loss it has caused you, focus on what you have learned, what you can offer others because you have gone through it.

Life is an experience of dealing with pain.  Listening, thinking, caring and growing all involve some degree of effort and pain.  You must be willing to accept and deal with the pain, much like an athlete who pushes them self through pain for the ultimate benefit they receive.

You can let life dictate the timing and intensity of the pain, or proactively put yourself through challenge at the time and place of your choosing.  That way, you determine the level of challenge you experience at any one time.  The resulting strength will allow you to deal more easily with challenges you experience that you have no control over.

Make a list of the challenges of your past that you are still bitter about or negatively affected by.  The goal is to forgive, grow and move on with the strength you have developed by overcoming your challenges.  If you can't forgive, you will NEVER be able to move beyond that point in your life.

There is no real tool or secret to forgiveness.  Forgiveness is divine.  It can't be earned or forced.  Penance does not pay for transgressions.  It is an experience of free will, a choice.  If you can't release your bitterness and forgive, ultimately it will consume you.  (Tim K Insanity story).

Our stories exist in what could have been, should have been, or might have been.  Recognize your story, make peace with it and extract its vital ingredients.  Step out of the smallness of your limiting story and step into the fulfillment of your greatest dreams.

Dreaming about the future is a sure sign that we are deep inside our stories.  When we are in our stories, we never think a thought just once.  We go over and over the same ground, telling ourselves why we're not good enough or how life isn't fair.  You can turn it on in the morning; by saying to yourself "God, you look awful today".

You may be up for a raise, but you limit yourself by saying to yourself "It's never going to happen for you!  It's not fair.  They don't really appreciate you.  Life is too tough.  What do you know?  You're a loser.  You're never going to make it."  Or "Poor me, why can't I get a break?"

THE TRUTH IS, YOU HAVE A STORY, BUT YOU AREN'T YOUR STORY

Our fear of change, our fear of stepping into new realities, is so deep that we desperately cling to the world we know.  We often mistake familiarity for safety.  The following is a story to demonstrate the point:

There was a woman swimming across a lake with a rock in her hand.  As the woman neared the center of the lake, she started to sink from the weight of the stone.  "Drop the rock," shouted the people watching from the shore.  But the woman kept swimming, now disappearing for moments at a time under the water.  "Drop the rock!" the began to shout.  The woman had reached the middle of the lake and was now sinking as much as she was swimming.  Once more the people urged, "Drop the rock!"  And as the woman disappeared from sight for the last time, they heard her say, "I can't.  It's mine."

We would rather hold on to what we know than deal with reality.  What we need to do is distinguish between authentic hope and wishful thinking.  

Example of people who try then make it as rock stars and those who just aren't being real about the fact that they'll never make it.  Write about this difference and how you can tell if your being authentic or in DENIAL (Don't Even Notice I Am Lying).

Most of us are waiting for someone or something to save us from our circumstances.  Unfortunately, no one is coming--not your parents, not a prince on a white horse and not the lottery.  We would rather hold on to 

What you resist, persists.  If you hate it, judge it, dislike it--you have guaranteed that the issue will persist.  We must go against our instinct to hold on.  Surrendering requires us to soften our hearts and accept that life just isn't easy or fair.

OUR MINDS CAN'T TAKE US WHERE OUR HEARTS LONG TO GO

Our minds drive us to find answers, but the answers we find are often what prevent us from finding our deeper truth.  Knowing what to eat and knowing how much exercise we need will NOT give us the motivation to eat well and exercise.

Attach your goals to your life's mission.  Achieving your goal requires more than knowledge, it requires unconditional commitment and desire.  Knowing the way is not going the way.  Knowing the way is the BOOBY PRIZE.  

Our need to control, our need to be right, our need to be somebody are what keep us trapped in the unauthentic lives we're living.  If you could be you without the things holding you back, who would you be?  Choose to be that person!

We blame our shortcomings on our parents, our teachers, our spouses, those who perpetrated evil on us, our friends and our circumstances.  We feel abused in our jobs, taken advantage of by family and friends, abandoned by God or victimized by life in general.

Without even realizing it, we get a huge payoff from making others wrong.  There is an inner satisfaction that comes from pointing our fingers and assigning blame.  Many of us will go to our graves blaming others for the condition of our lives.  We will do anything to avoid taking responsibility for the condition of our life.  

Most of us have gathered strong evidence to validate our perception that we are victims of life.  Those feelings strip us of our personal power for as long as we believe them.  

The only way out of this trap is to take responsibility.  At the deepest level many of us avoid taking total and complete responsibility for the events of our lives.  We do this because in taking responsibility we feel like we are letting someone off the hook who has harmed us.  But in truth, taking responsibility is the only way we can let ourselves off the hook.

If you have decided that there is little hope for you to succeed, but you could help someone else, who would it be?  Your child, a friend, a young person going through similar events you have had to deal with?  Succeed for their sake, if you can't do it for you, do it for them!

Ask yourself "Is this the truth, or is it just an excuse".  Confront the reality of the situation and take responsibility for the choices you have made that have contributed to the situation.

Responsibility means learning the sometimes painful lessons that life's experience has to teach us.

You can use challenging events in your life to finally develop the motivation to succeed.  You can also choose to grow simply because you recognize the value.  You don't have to wait until you've hit rock bottom to make the change, you can look ahead to what hitting bottom is going to mean and begin making changes now.

We've all heard the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  But you can't have lemonade just with lemons, it's up to you to add the sugar.  Life's sugar is the wisdom that is developed by living through challenging circumstances.  If you don't know how to deal with what you're going through, imagine someone you admire and think about the choices they might make in the same situation.  

Choose to take complete responsibility for your life.  Embrace it all:  The good, the bad...The pain and the ecstasy.  Powerful or Powerless...you choose.

Our life has equipped us with a particular set of skills and a unique blend of wisdom that we are meant to deliver to the world.  In order for us to heal, we must stop chasing "feel-good moments."  It's not the easy road.  There IS no easy road.  But the direct road to lasting peace and contentment is much easier to travel than the winding road of continually searching, trying and failing.

Living a life where we feel that deep at our core there is something wrong with us--that we're not good enough or that we don't matter--is a hell that is difficult to endure.  So is living a life in which our dreams are always one step ahead of us.

Ask yourself, "What incident or event from my past is still causing me pain, anger, regret or resentment?"  It may have happened in the past week, or 20 years ago.  Once we see our past and everything in it as our TEACHER, we will know that we have deeply integrated the experiences of our life.  We will finally be able to stop--stop trying to fix, change, or make our story better.

FORGIVING YOURSELF

Until we have come to a place of self-forgiveness, we won't be able to begin developing the extraordinary gifts we have and living the life of our dreams.  How can we feel worthy of love, success, abundance and perfect health when our stories continually remind us that we're flawed, insignificant and unworthy?  How can we wake up in the morning determined to get the most out of life when we're continually beating ourselves up?  How can we move on when we're continuing to feel guilt from the transgressions we've committed towards others?  

If we don't live a life grounded in integrity, we will try to build our transformation on top of a lie.  Do you owe someone an apology?  Do you owe others money?  

A guilty mind expects punishment.  Guilt will cause you to attract people and/or situations to validate your unresolved guilty thoughts.  What do you need forgiveness for?  You can't move forward in your life until you make right the sins you have committed against others.  You conscience will continue to remind you until you either deal with the transgressions or bury them beneath layers of a false life.

On the other hand, what do you blame yourself for that you had no control over?  Are the circumstances of your childhood that you take responsibility for that you wouldn't expect a child of the same age today to feel guilty about?  Have you internalized guilt and a story that is a lie?  Examine your feelings of responsibility for events that you had no control over and begin to let go.

VIOLATING SELF

Most of us try to achieve transformation even as we continue to commit offenses against ourselves.  How are you violating yourself?  Overeating, overspending, gossiping, watching TV, lying, fighting with your spouse or children, drinking, smoking?

We violate our bodies by:

  • Overeating
  • Eating food we know doesn't agree with us
  • Eating food we know is garbage
  • Telling ourselves we are going to exercise and then not following through
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not taking days off
  • Cigarettes, alcohol or drugs
  • Criticizing ourselves when looking in the mirror
  • Paying more attention to our flaws than our beauty
  • Staying so busy that we can't hear the signals our body sends us

We violate our relationships by:

  • Staying in a relationship with a physically or emotionally abusive individual
  • Doing things for or with friends that we don't really want to do
  • Having sex when we don't want to
  • Depriving ourselves of intimacy when we want it
  • Breaking agreements and commitments with others
  • Gossiping and listening to gossip
  • Pretending to like people we don't
  • Not spending time with people we love
  • Withholding our feelings from others
  • Stepping over personal boundaries
  • Compromising our integrity
  • Making other's needs more important than our own

We violate our financial security by:

  • Spending more than we earn
  • Running up credit card debt
  • Bouncing checks
  • Lying about our income
  • Not saving any money
  • Being unconscious about our spending
  • Stealing
  • Ignoring our debts
  • Paying our bills late
  • Eating out for dinner all the time

 

MAKE AMENDS TO YOURSELF

  • Tell the truth to yourself and others
  • Take time for people you love
  • Focus every day on what you enjoy about your life
  • Meditate/pray every day
  • Volunteer and contribute to organizations that you identify with
  • Stop gossiping
  • Take care of your body with good food, the right amount of food and exercise
  • Take care of your mind by relaxing, reading and writing
  • Listen to your intuition and don't make choices that don't feel right
  • Deal with the pain that has been in your life so you can move on
  • Spend less than you earn
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Clear your debts

We have a unique specialty that is unlike that of anyone else.  This is the reward of all that we have lived.  Our specialty is the sum total of our life's experiences.  Our specialties are often birthed out of our pain.  Ask yourself, "If my life so far has been training me to do or be something particular in the world, what would it be?"  If you were to write a book that you could take back in time and give to yourself before you lived through your challenging experiences, what would the title be?

Ask yourself:

  • What skills and abilities do I possess because of the challenges I have lived through?
  • How can I use those incidents to contribute to myself and others?
  • If my life were training me to fulfill a particular need in the world, what would it be?

What would you need to do to be blissfully happy, contribute to the world, take care of those you love and create the life of your dreams?  It's time to stop being a student and step into the role of being a teacher.  It's time to share the wisdom you have spent your life collecting.

As you assess your skills and your capabilities, you'll see that many of your most valuable possessions come from the struggles of your past.  You can either use the experiences of your life to contribute to others or allow your past and all of its limitations to continue to use you.

Begin attracting a new group of people into your life, people who have never heard the "poor me" story.  Begin the relationships with the story of the person you are working at becoming.  As you make this shift within yourself, you'll find that the world responds to you differently.  Begin your new life today.

When you are living your authentic life, you'll feel energetic, enriched and fulfilled.  You'll know when you slip back into your old life by the feelings of insignificance, boredom and laziness that come back up.  Become conscious of your patterns, of the stories you have been telling yourself about your life that aren't true.  After a few months of consciously choosing to live outside of those stories, you will be able to tell immediately when you slip back in.  

Ultimately, contributing your unique gift and using your specialty becomes your salvation.  When you're using all that you know, all that you have been and all that your are, you're aligned with the authenticity of your spirit.  Your attention and energy is no longer on you and your drama.  You become swept up in the richness of the way you are impacting the lives of others.

The stories of our lives are 90% perception and 10% fact.  Ask the people who were involved in your emotional traumas to give you their version of the story.  You will be surprised how different they saw the circumstances that you both lived through.  Asking friends and family members to give you their perspective on your life's dramas is an effective way to dismantle the limited perspective you believed to be truth.

TRY THIS EXERCISE:

Ask 5 close friends and family to write you eulogy today.  We often don't really know what those close to us think.  It's surprising how many positive things exist about us that we don't recognize because we're so focused on the fact that we're not good enough.

If you are a diehard who finds it difficult to let go of your limited self, stand in front of a mirror and repeat your "poor me" story to yourself word for word, until you are so sick of it that you can't bear to repeat it one more time.

There is risk in being authentic, not everyone will appreciate you.  All those who had a voice or who made a difference in this world had people who loved them and people who hated them.  Martin Luther King, and Gandhi showed through their courage that if you're going to make a difference in the world, that you have to accept that not everyone will love you.  You must be able to tolerate criticism as well as praise.  You can only do this once you have dealt with the stories and excuses from your past.

http://www.debbieford.com 

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