Every time I read this book, which I do every few years, I think the same thing: Great book, terrible title. The subtitle, “Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams,” is helpful, but by that point it’s too late. My guess is that most people see the title and say, “Huh?” because it’s so abstract. It’s also misleading, because in fact the book is about seeing the bright side of shadows. A more accurate title would be: “How to Learn from the Things That Other People Do That Drive Us Crazy.” OK, maybe that’s a bit long, but it’s more accurate. Maybe I should just keep my day job and let it go.
Anyway, if you are trying to figure things out (Who am I? Why am I…? Why don’t I…? etc.), this book can be astonishingly insightful. Ford explains that other people are our mirrors (PS, Shakti Gawain, author of Living in the Light, makes the same assertion) and that when someone acts in a way that bothers us, it’s a sign of something in ourselves that we are refusing to acknowledge. For example, if an incompetent clerk drives you bananas, you have to figure out why his/her incompetence troubles you so much. It doesn’t mean you are incompetent; more likely you are highly competent. But perhaps you were criticized early in life for being incompetent and have spent your whole life trying not to appear incompetent, to the point where you dread making mistakes, often feel tied up in knots, and are unwilling to take risks or unable to generate creative ideas or make changes in your life which would require risk-taking. Ford says that until you recognize this aspect of yourself (i.e., that you are hiding your fear of incompetence), you cannot be completely whole. Once you unpack the situation and can say without flinching, “I am incompetent, I am incompetent, I am incompetent,” then you can heal that aspect of yourself. There’s more to it, of course, but this is the basic premise.
Ford also points out how much energy it takes to hide something from ourselves and others. Imagine having to carry a grapefruit around all day, she says, having to hide it from yourself and others. That’s what we are doing with some of our emotions. Better to take a look at it and deal with it.