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Book Review: The Shadow Effect

There was a great South Park episode where a group of superheros (named the Super Best Friends) unites to fight a cult led by magician David Blaine. The superheroes included Buddha, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Lao Tzu, and a couple of other heavy hitters. They were predictably unstoppable.

The Shadow Effect is written by three people who I think of in the same terms as the Super Best Friends–three authors at the top of their fields who have joined forces to write a book about how we can make ourselves better. And in my head, Deepak Chopra is the one with the Super Freeze Breath.

The authors

Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and Debbie Ford. Between them, they’ve written a lot of books. Call it spirituality, new age, self improvement, personal development, enlightenment, philosophy–I personally look at their collective writing as a bunch of opportunities to get better and improve our lives. Beyond that, I haven’t labeled it.

The premise of The Shadow Effect

The full title is:

The Shadow Effect: Illuminating The Hidden Power Of Your True Self.

In my experience, most self-help books are trying to get us to see things in a new way. To change our perspective or shift our paradigm. The Shadow Effect is no different, but it goes about it in a way that I found quite interesting, if not entirely new.

So how does one go about “Illuminating The Hidden Power Of [Their] True Self?” By coming to terms with what they authors call The Shadow.

The Shadow

In many ways, over many pages, the authors are essentially saying that we’re made of good and evil, dark and light, yin and yang, negatives and positives. We each have things about ourselves that we don’t like. Limitations that we’re ashamed of. Regrets that we can’t let go of. Actions and thoughts that are beneath us.

Those are all The Shadow. Each author writes a segment of the book about what we can gain by facing The Shadow, and that is the most interesting part of the book for me. The application.

The authors encourage us to explore and even embrace our limitations. Rather than pretending they don’t exist or hoping that they’ll just go away if we ignore them, acknowledging our weaknesses and flaws can be what makes us “whole.” If they simmer for too long, they’ll become much more destructive when they eventually emerge.

When I read a book, I try as hard as I can to read with an open mind, sentence by sentence, looking for things that are true for me. If I can learn something from a book, I want to read it, regardless of the subject matter. If there is a song that can move me, I want to hear it, regardless of the genre.

And with every page of The Shadow Effect, there was something that made sense to me.

The verdict

I read a few self-improvement books a year. And then I sit on them and think about them. What I don’t do is start writing reviews right away that say “This changed my life!” Books like The Shadow Effect are intended to bring about profound changes in the way the reader thinks and lives.

However, those changes don’t happen fast and without the reader’s commitment they may never happen at all.

So today, that’s where I stand. This book is full of wonderful ideas that make a lot of sense to me. The majority of it is entirely plausible. The application of its principles and suggestions could very well change my life for the better.

I’ll have to spend some time working on it before I can sign off on it as effective. But I can highly recommend it as a good starting point for someone trying to figure out how to make emotional peace with themselves.

What do you think? Any hardcore Chopra, Williamson, or Ford fans out there? Is it just a bunch of new age nonsense?Anyone else going to give The Shadow Effect a try with me?

Let’s talk.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lindsey June 16, 2010, 4:31 am

    So glad for this review – I’ve seen this book and been intrigued. I think of this triad the same way you do. I find it – this group of authors, this book, this topic – a little intimidating, honestly, but also fascinating. Your review makes me more compelled to try it. Thanks!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2010, 11:52 am

      Lindsey, let me know what you think if you give it a try. What do you find intimidating about the topic?

  • Heather June 16, 2010, 6:45 am

    Josh, I must admit. . . many of my “friends” and my ex were always poking fun and taking a piss about how I would occasionally read “self-help drivel” or “get all artsy-fartsy” when I would try and come to grips with some deep emotional stuff that, eventually, I just shut up about and closed off about. I’m going to my LPL this weekend to check out The Tao of Wu, and I’m going to look for this one as well. FCUK’M! I got away from those people for a reason, and this may be just the ticket to helping me out this summer. Thanks, man, you da bomb!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2010, 11:51 am

      You’re welcome. Let me know if you like it. Or hate it.

  • Asatar Bair June 16, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I haven’t read this one, but I like Deepak Chopra. I liked his book “The Buddha”. One unusual thing about it was the way his spiritual experience showed through in his description of the Buddha. Haven’t read the other authors. Josh, I like what you say about results being dependent on applying the principles of a book over time. That is so true. It’s good if a book contains a good method for implementing its philosophy. Did this one have such a method? Thanks for the review.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2010, 11:50 am

      Asatar, I feel like it was heavy on “what the shadow is” and light on “And then here’s what you do about it.” But it’s getting a lot of wonderful reviews that completely contradict me. I personally would prefer more suggestions for application.

  • Lori Franklin June 16, 2010, 1:12 pm

    Hey Josh,
    I’m almost done reading this one — and I liked most of it. I actually used to work with Deepak at his institute in Carlsbad, CA. I actually never really saw him much, but it was interesting being in his “element”. I’m a fan of Debbie Ford — I like the way she tells things straight and has her own bruises about which she shares.
    Thanks for posting about this, Josh.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2010, 11:49 am

      How interesting. What did you do at DC’s institute? Can you recommend one book by Ford that I should read?

  • Clare McKenzie June 16, 2010, 6:09 pm

    Stephanie Dowrick is one of my fav self-help writers and she also addresses this shadow side in The Universal Heart. At a difficult time in my life I found it very useful to be reminded that it is helpful to examine and accept all aspects of personality and/or behaviour, even the bits that might not seem so attractive at the time. http://www.stephaniedowrick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Itemid=29

  • trish June 20, 2010, 10:25 am

    That’s such an interesting point about not knowing the value of a self-help book until some time has passed, giving you time to apply the principles. Something that I think about a lot (and I don’t even remember who said it!) is: Where have I been? How long have I been there? And where am I going? That’s one of those things that won’t immediately change your life, but requires some introspection and is a really good thought process for the long haul.

    Thanks for being on this tour! Your review made me think again about those things I’ve learned over the years that I WANT to use to make significant changes in my life.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2010, 12:45 pm

      Thanks Trish. I used to read a ton of self-help books. This question never occurred to me. Ever. I would read them, think “wow!” And then assume my life had changed without me doing any follow up or self scrutiny. I was thrilled to be part of the tour, thanks again.

  • Audrey June 23, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Great review! Sounds like a very inspirational read and reminds me of one I just finished by Carol Marleigh Kline called, “Streetwise Spirituality.” I got a lot out of this one because the author encourages you to take the initiative and become proactive in your own personal growth.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 23, 2010, 5:31 pm

      Thanks Audrey, I’ll take a look at it.

      • Audrey June 24, 2010, 11:02 am

        You’re welcome, Josh.

  • Kelly Anderson December 5, 2011, 11:08 am

    I saw the movie. What hogwash! Are people so lonely and desparate that they will cling to anything anyone tells them? They say to list the things you don’t like about yourself. There’s nothing I don’t like about myself (and, no, I’m not “pretending” things don’t exist). I have always been happy and content with myself and my situation. I am exactly where God wants me to be and the Bible states I am created in his image, thus, I don’t need changing. Good luck to those of you who don’t believe in God and are continuously seeking something from these new age gurus. Why not just believe and trust God. It’s a lot less stressful and doesn’t cost a thing!