Film review: “The Shadow Effect” by Debbie Ford


shadow-effectWhat is Shadow work? We humans tend to wear masks that we present to people, in a way saying, “This is who I am. I’m not going to let you know anything about the parts of me I don’t like because you may not love me if you see all my true colours.” After awhile, we get used to showing only our masked self. The other parts of ourselves are pushed down, into the shadow of our being – out of sight. Eventually, we all must deal with our shadow aspects. While we may label them as negative, and therefore unwanted, they are a part of what makes us who we are. They have served a purpose in our lives. Rejecting parts of ourselves through denial, cuts us off from our whole self. What we cannot be with, will not let us be.

  A clear visual in the movie shows a woman in a swimming pool, attempting to hold many beach balls under water. Each beach ball has a so-called negative aspect written on it; anger, rage, selfishness. She’s trying to keep these balls underwater, hidden from view, all the while smiling at this handsome man at the side of the pool. She is attempting to impress this man, putting her best self forward. It’s impossible to keep our shadow aspects hidden away. We may manage for a while, but eventually they pop up for all to see. Look at the recent trend of fallen celebrities, once on top – famous, perfect and untouchable – they stumble and fall with allegations of abuse, violence, adultery, mental breakdown, drugs, alcohol – you name it. They are no different in this work than you or I. 

  This movie gracefully demonstrates the how’s and why’s of doing shadow work. Seeing the movie helped me put a name to what I was attempting to do on my own. In a documentary style, we see bits of Debbie Ford’s Shadow Effect workshop interspersed with contributions from Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra and Mark Victor Hansen, to name a few. Most significantly, and touching, were the real life stories of ordinary people demonstrating true healing in action.


Sue Dyson writes a personal development blog at and is the co-ordinator of the Spiritual Cinema for the Center for Spiritual Living Campbell River. Spiritual Cinema presents monthly thought-provoking films.