Originally Posted on The Coaching Tools Company as BOOK REVIEW by Ruby McGuire "Dark Side of the Light Chasers"
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams by Debbie Ford
Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by the late Debbie Ford, is a challenging, sometimes confrontational book. It gets you thinking about aspects of your personality that you don’t own up to—and might not want to.
Building on a concept that originated with psychologist Carl Jung, Ford argues that owning all parts of your personality, both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (the parts that you don’t want people to see) is what allows you to “reclaim your power, creativity, brilliance and dreams” and be the authentic person you’re meant to be.
Although the book was first published in 1988, it’s still relevant today. And at 184 pages, it’s a fairly quick read, yet packs a powerful punch.
It’s time to acknowledge your ‘dark’ side
When a good friend first raved about this book, I didn’t want to read it. I’m usually the first one to buy into book recommendations, but I had a lot of resistance around this one. I didn’t want to own my dark side.
That’s because this book gets you to confront aspects of your personality you’d rather hide away, such as anger, judgement or arrogance. It also challenges you to consider what you might be capable of under the right (or wrong!) circumstances.
For example, could you turn into a bully if you were yourself bullied? Could you be a murderer? It turns out I could. I will happily kill spiders! So there’s an aspect of my personality that thinks it’s acceptable to kill—as long as the victims are eight-legged and creepy looking.
Look in the mirror
What Ford suggests is that when other people’s behaviour triggers you, it may reflect an aspect of your personality that you need to acknowledge. And this might be one you don’t want to embrace.
For example, let’s say you come across lots of arrogant people. Try using their behaviour as a mirror—ask yourself if there’s an aspect of yourself that is arrogant. The answer is often yes.
Or maybe you often get irritated by people not listening to you. Where might you not be listening?
You get the drift.
Ford also points out that our “so-called faults” are sometimes simply over-amplified qualities and can therefore be dialled down.
For example, overconfidence could be perceived as arrogance. So by acknowledging that we are overconfident from time to time, we can then choose to dial down that trait, making us more bearable to be around.
Exploring and embracing your shadow side
Throughout the book, Ford shares exercises to help you explore your own shadow side. And she then helps you reinterpret yourself with your newfound knowledge. She encourages you to embrace all parts of your personality. Because by doing this, you’ll know yourself on a much deeper level.
In the past, you may have closed off doors to parts of your personality. For example, when you were a child, you may have been told you were bossy. Having done some shadow work, you now recognize that being bossy is an amazing trait in your business because it allows you to use those skills to be a leader. If you hadn’t owned that aspect of your personality, you may not have considered that to be an area of strength.
So once you reveal and own those hidden aspects of your personality, instead of giving your power away, you can acknowledge all that you are. And this allows you to deepen your relationship with yourself, and then with others.
And there are wonderful benefits too…
Another fascinating perspective came up when we read this book as part of my Queen of Business Mastermind group. One of my ‘Queens of Business’ had been so focused on chasing out the ‘dark’ that she had forgotten to search out and embrace the light side of her personality. So she read this book in a completely different way, with a different benefit.
A useful tool for coaches
I love this book. I recommend it to lots of my clients, and I find it incredibly useful personally. Learning how to embrace your dark side makes life really interesting. It’s an insightful tool that not only helps you understand yourself better, but can also help you allow other people to see you as a whole. And while you might want to run away from some of the aspects you uncover, when you get brave enough to work with them, you’ll uncover some real gems too.
And it’s a great tool for us as coaches too. It allows us to dig deeper with clients, providing a mirror we can hold up for our clients that’s easier and less antagonistic.
The word “authenticity” sometimes feels overused—but it’s something we all seek. And this book helps you get closer to that.
The trick is to not get so stuck in it that you start analyzing everything you do, playing the blame and judgement game.
Instead, notice what triggers you, explore your shadow, accept it, own it and move on!
It’s time to acknowledge your dark side.
Wishing you fabulousness!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Whilst Amazon is a convenient way to purchase books, many local community bookstores are struggling to stay alive. If you can, why not order your book from your local bookstore, both boosting your local economy and supporting a fellow small business owner? Or consider using Bookshop.org (which gives money back to small bookstores). We have recently become an affiliate for them, and love the option to offer Wishlists and an alternative to Amazon!