"Our stories," writes Debbie Ford (The Dark Side of the Light Chasers), "separate us and draw clear boundaries between ourselves, others and the world. They limit our capabilities and shut down our possibilities. Our stories keep us part even while we are begging to belong and fit in. They drain our vital energy, leaving us feeling tired, depleted, and hopeless. The predictability of our stories feeds our resignation and guarantees our fate. When we are living inside our stories, we engage in repetitive habits, abusive behaviors, and abrasive internal dialogues."

Most of us can readily identify with this process of creating a false self. It may be marked by perfectionism, pretending to be special, or trying to prove ourselves to others. The true self, the image of God, the treasure within, is soon buried under the debris of internal criticism and self-loathing which are necessary to keep our "poor me" story going. Instead of relishing the unique recipe that we are, all of our attention is given to the lumps in the batter -- the things that cause pain, anger, and regret.

Debbie Ford recounts her arduous journey including 13 years of drug abuse and 25 years of playing in her head a tape of victimization and self-hatred. Now this personal coach, consultant, and teacher presents strategies for accepting your whole story -- the light and the dark within, the victories and the losses, the vastness and the nothingness. We must take it all in, she advises: "The process of making peace with our stories requires us to identify, understand, accept, and embrace everything in our past that has caused us pain." Another important step is to stop chasing the feel-good moments. A third is to accept that the core of healing is in self-forgiveness. And a final step is to access the wisdom that lies within your emotional wounds.

The Secret of the Shadow by Debbie Ford is a liberating psychological work that challenges us to set aside our poor me stories for the far bigger saga of our true essence.