We are saddened by the recent loss of a special teacher and friend to Omega -- and to many of you. Debbie Ford passed away on Feb. 17, 2013. Our hearts are with Debbie's family and friends. Below is a recent interview with Debbie Ford, where she talks to Omega about overcoming fear and igniting self-confidence.
Omega: You've written that you can't have the full experience of the light without knowing the dark. Why do you consider the shadow to be the gatekeeper of true freedom?
Debbie: You can't be fully yourself if you have aspects that are hiding. The shadow holds the truth of all the authentic parts of being human -- your vulnerability, your discontent, your jealousy, or an experience from the past that you haven't digested. The only way to invite them out of the shadow is to bring them into the light. The light is a new perspective in which you see that everything that's happening is happening to help you develop your soul. Then you're free -- free to be who you are most authentically, free to ask for what you need, free to find your joy and bliss, free to share your gifts.
Omega: For someone unfamiliar with shadow work, what would you say is the first step in recognizing your shadow?
Debbie: The first step is seeing what you don't want to be. Look at who you don't like and the qualities they have, not their behaviors but the qualities inside of them that you don't like. You can start with your family, because, of course, you can always see these qualities in your brothers, sisters, parents, or children. For example, when my son lived at home, he was a procrastinator, and I would get upset and get on him about it. But the truth is, I'm a procrastinator. I have an important new project right now, but I'll do anything not to start it. I was trying to change it in him because I need to look at it in myself.
Omega: Based on your own experience and your years of teaching, would you say that you're ever really done with the shadow?
Debbie: Every time you grow and evolve, you find new versions of your shadow. So are we ever done? I don't think so. But once you understand shadow work, it's actually not something you want to be done with, because every time you embrace a shadow, you open up a new pathway for your life.
Ultimately, all of this work is about learning to love one's self, one's flaws, one's shortcomings, and one's past; and when you accept that it is possible -- that that is your spiritual journey here on earth -- you have a foundation for setting yourself up to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Omega: Your most recent book, Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence, is about unlocking the courage that lies within each of us. What's the difference between a true sense of courage and that sense of confidence that only lives on the surface of things?
Debbie: What is often called courage is when you muscle up and barrel through. It's forceful, often without thinking or feeling. But the courage I'm talking about is this divine inner strength that everyone is born with, a strength to be your most authentic self and to take powerful actions consistent with your loving, compassionate heart.
So how do you tell the difference? One is filled with anxiety, force, or roughness, and the other one is gentle and tender -- even if your voice is raised or you're demanding change from somebody else, you are doing it with a loving heart.
Omega: Last year, you took the courageous step of publicly sharing your cancer diagnosis. What would you say to somebody who has just found out the worst thing they could about their health?
Debbie: I would tell them something that Deepak Chopra said to me, "Don't take it personally." The first thing that happens when you get a diagnosis is that you start thinking, "I am this, my world is this," and "What did I do to get this?" It becomes a very personal issue, but making it personal is the most painful way to deal with a diagnosis.
Omega: How do you define healing?
Debbie: For me, healing is a state of consciousness. It's a place deep inside where one feels whole and good about themselves and their lives no matter what's going on. Healing really has nothing to do with being cured. My diagnosis is considered incurable, which just means there's no cure that they know of, which is actually a great diagnosis, because to me, healing is a process of how you feel and how you can live a life that is deeply meaningful and soulful.
Debbie Ford is a New York Times best-selling author, founder of The Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching, and a pioneering force in the study and integration of the shadow into modern psychological and spiritual practices. Her nine books include Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence and The Shadow Effect.
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