For as long as I can remember I have been the ultimate overachiever. Starting in elementary school, it was like a badge of honor for me to study longer and harder than any of my classmates. Although my workaholic tendencies produced a lot of achievements and success, they also came with a cost. I can’t tell you the number of invitations I turned down, the time hanging out with friends I missed out on, and the added pressure I imposed on myself.

Have you ever wondered about what your driving force is?

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from manifesting and actually experiencing that which you say you want?

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from letting go, even when you know something or someone no longer serves your highest vision for your life?

What’s Really Controlling Your Life?

The answer is your unclaimed shadows! Shadows are the negative thoughts, fears, and beliefs that live in our unconscious and determine how much success, joy, fun, and love we allow ourselves to experience, or conversely, the silent suffering, the lack, and disappointment we may endure. Our shadows are responsible for the internal dialogue that plays as a tape in our head, constantly repeating the same story of dread and trepidation, which keeps us playing safe, feeling small and stuck where we are.

Our shadows trick us into believing that who we are is unacceptable, unlovable, not good enough, or in some form just not okay! They convince us that to feel safe we must create facades, wear masks, and deny our most authentic self. Ultimately, it is our shadows that give birth to our fear and keep us paralyzed, striving for more, or trying to fit in and get it right. They control our actions, non-actions, and basically eliminate our ability to make high level choices.

When we are being run by our shadows, we lose our freedom to choose. We feel as if our only choice is to try to hide it, deny it, or achieve over it. We lose our ability to make choices that truly serve us because the only choices we can make are those that are aligned with the shadows that are driving us. For example, think about:

• The person who believes that they don’t matter. They become the ultimate people-pleaser, exhausting themselves doing everything for everyone else. Yet, when it comes to taking care of themselves, they are at the bottom of their to-do list. Why? Because the only choices they can make are ones that they think will make them matter to others.
• The person yearning for love and connection but who fears being hurt. They leave before they are left and push away love, whether they want to or not, so as not to feel the pain of rejection.
• All the overachievers just like me. Somewhere under our façade of perfectionism, there is a little girl or boy who fears not getting it right!

Claim Your Shadow and Your Life

Since your present is a result of the choices you made yesterday and your future will be determined by the choices you make today…if you want to experience a different reality, you must wake up to really see what is controlling your life. You don't have to allow your shadow to be in control of your life. Instead, you can choose to shine the light of awareness on the shadows that are unconsciously driving your choices. It is when you bring the unconscious conscious that, all of a sudden, a whole new array of choices will become available to you.

I am happy to report that once I realized that it was my unclaimed shadows of not believing I was good enough or worthy enough to have abundance that was driving my need to always work and prove myself, I was able to find compassion for the little girl who just wanted to be special. Since that time, work has become a priority but not the priority. I have let go of always multi-tasking and have learned to put my computer away so I can be present for the people I love and the experiences I want to enjoy.

Now it’s your turn.

By owning your shadows, you will feel worthy of claiming the highest vision for your life and you will be free and able to make healthy, high-level choices that will move you in the direction of your dreams! Bottom line, “the gold is in the dark!” and shadow work empowers you to bring light to the dark so you can find and enjoy the gold!

The following exercise is something that you can practice weekly to help you become aware of your shadows as a way of overcoming and claiming them.

Transformational Action Steps

1) Make a list of two goals that you are committed to reaching.

2) Ask yourself, "Are the choices I made this week moving me in the direction of these goals?"

3) If not, identify the part of you that has been driving your decisions. Who is driving? Who is making the choices? Is it your wounded self? Is it the part of you that worries what your mother will think? Is it the part of you that wants to ensure your peers like you and approve of you? How long have they been in the driver's seat? And how much longer will you give them the wheel?

4) Set a strong boundary with this part of you by letting them know that you are now taking control, that you are going to protect yourself, ensuring your future, and that they can no longer drive. In other words, revoke their driver's license. How? Write it down. Create a positive statement and put it up where you can see it daily.

If you want to learn more about claiming your shadow, book a one-on-one session and to learn how to live a life of integrity, purchase a copy of The Integrity Advantage today!

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute. She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Connect with Kelley at