Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

by Debbie Ford


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Discover a Life Filled with Passion, Meaning, and Purpose

New York Times bestselling author Debbie Ford leads us into the heart of the duality that unknowingly operates within each one of us. Providing the tools to end self-sabotage, Ford ultimately knocks down the façade of the false self and shows us how to heal the split between light and dark and live the authentic life within our reach.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060897383
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/14/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 450,979
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

DEBBIE FORD (October 1, 1955 - February 17, 2013) is the national bestselling author of Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Secret of the Shadow, Spiritual Divorce, The Right Questions, The Best Year of Your Life, Why Good People Do Bad Things, and The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse.

Read an Excerpt

Why Good People Do Bad Things
How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

By Debbie Ford HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
Debbie Ford
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060897376

Chapter One

The Beach-Ball Effect

Why Good People Do Bad Things is a powerful inquiry into the hidden forces that drive us to commit unbelievable acts of self-sabotage and self-destruction. We've all heard the stories; they show up on the evening news, on the front page of newspapers, and as headlines in the weekly tabloids: the Olympic sports hero who falls from grace after being accused of injecting steroids; the TV evangelist who gets arrested for soliciting prostitutes; the schoolteacher who carries on an affair with one of her students; or the baseball star who gambles on his own games. These are the public demonstrations of good people who have gone astray, and they have become our national obsession.

But countless other acts of self-destruction and unthinkable acts of cruelty take place, unbeknownst to us, in our own backyards: the successful eye surgeon who gambles his kids' college tuition away; the public official who takes a bribe; the PTA mom who is having an affair with her best friend's husband; the hospital administrator who commits insurance fraud; or the financial manager who embezzles money from his clients. These are people whom most of their peers would consider good people, not common criminals, psychopaths, or sociopaths whose histories might predict their unscrupulous behavior. These are people like you and me, people who started out with big dreams fortheir future. But despite their good intentions, these so-called good people did some very bad things, most often without even understanding why.

Our society is rampant with acts of self-destruction that leave most of us perplexed and asking, "Why did he or she do that? Why did I do this? How could this happen?" Self-sabotage is the proverbial hammer over the head that finally wakes us up, demanding that we pay attention. For most of us, it takes something devastating to crack us open, to get us out of our minds and into our hearts. It takes the pain of a broken heart and shattered dreams to push us beyond the limited realities we have created for ourselves.

We are spiritual beings whether we want to admit it or not, and inherent in our DNA is a design to return us home—home to our true essence, our greatest self, our limitless self. One of the ways we unconsciously ensure our return is through pain. Pain is the greatest motivator for change. It is the spiritual crowbar that pries open the door to new realities. Would we look into our deeper selves, dwell in them, grapple with them, inquire into them, and initiate change in our lives if everything was perfect? More than likely we would just continue living day by day in the comfort of our familiar worlds.

Self-sabotage is a catalyst that can change our world in an instant. We can go from arrogant and blind to humble and open—in just a matter of seconds. The pain we cause ourselves is a tremendous spiritual gift. When explored and understood for its true purpose, the pain of our own self-sabotage reveals new and uncharted territories that can change the course of our lives.

The Underbelly of the Human Psyche

The underbelly of the human psyche, what is often referred to as our dark side, is the origin of every act of self-sabotage. Birthed out of shame, fear, and denial, it misdirects our good intentions and drives us to unthinkable acts of self-destruction and not-so-unbelievable acts of self-sabotage.

Shame and denial feed our dark side for one simple reason. If we accepted our weaknesses, flaws, and shortcomings as a natural part of our humanity, we would have the ability to ask for help when we are confronted with an impulse that we don't know how to deal with. We would recognize that these dark impulses—such as the urge to have sex with people other than our spouse, to take money that doesn't belong to us, or to lie in order to better position ourselves—are a natural part of our humanity that needs to be understood and embraced. But because these urges are left unexplored and unexamined, they get wrapped in shame and denial and kept hidden in the dark. And it is there that our shadow self, the unwanted and denied aspects of ourselves, gathers more power until a blowup is inevitable.

Every aspect of ourselves that we've denied, every thought and feeling that we've deemed unacceptable and wrong, eventually makes itself known in our lives. When we are busy building a business, creating a family, or taking care of those we love, when we are too busy to pay attention to our emotions, we have to hide our dark impulses and shame-filled qualities, which leaves us at risk for an external explosion. In a matter of minutes, when we least expect it, a rejected or unwanted aspect of ourselves can pop up and destroy our lives, our reputations, and all of our hard work. This is what I call the Beach-Ball Effect.

Think of the amount of energy it takes to hold an inflated beach ball underwater for an extended period of time. The moment you relax or take your attention away from keeping it submerged, the ball will bounce back up and splash water in your face. The Beach-Ball Effect is at work when you have suppressed something deep within your psyche, stored it in the recesses of your subconscious, and then, just when you think everything is going your way, something happens: You send a slanderous e-mail to the wrong colleague. You get lured into betraying someone you love for a night of meaningless passion. You get behind the wheel of a car after having three drinks and get arrested for drunk driving. You get caught dipping into your family's trust fund. You fly off into a rage in front of your new lover. You make an inappropriate comment that costs you your job. You blow an important deadline right before your big review. You haul off and hit your child in a moment of frustration. . . . In other words, the beach ball—your repressed urges and your unprocessed pain—pops up and hits you in the face, sabotaging your dreams, robbing you of your dignity, and leaving you drenched in shame.


Excerpted from Why Good People Do Bad Things by Debbie Ford Copyright © 2008 by Debbie Ford. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader     ix
The Never-Ending Battle
The Beach-Ball Effect     3
The Split     11
The Seesaw     25
Shame on You     31
The Fallout of Fear     51
The Ego Gone Bad     67
Cracking the Code of the False Self     83
The Peace Treaty
The Masks     97
Waking Up from Denial     145
Healing the Split     169
The Strength of Forgiveness     203
Returning to Love     231

What People are Saying About This

Deepak Chopra

“Anyone who reads this book will find the means to become whole once again.”

Paul Babiak

“An exceptionally helpful book.”

Richard Moss

“...a sage discussion of the dualistic nature of the human mind...”

Harville Hendrix

“In this book, Debbie Ford brilliantly exposes the greatest human tragedy: the loss of the authentic self by ineffective parenting and the resulting split that ravages the life of the self and its consequences for others. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.”

Alan Cohen

“Debbie Ford has hit a spiritual bullseye in this extraordinary roadmap to self-understanding, compassion, and what we all want most — happiness. I was touched, inspired, and enlightened by Debbie’s masterful blend of wisdom and heart. This landmark book will help many people.”

Marianne Williamson

“Debbie Ford has an amazing way of casting light onto our personal darkness. She’s done it before, and now she’s done it again. She’s a great explorer of our depths.”

Andrew Harvey

“This masterpiece of unflinching clarity is Debbie Ford’s most important and brilliant book.”

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Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
CynthiaSueLarson More than 1 year ago
I wondered when I saw the title of Debbie Ford's new book, "Why Good People Do Bad Things," how deeply it delves into the depths of abnormal psychology. I was intrigued to discover that even though the 'bad things' described here consist mostly of non-violent crimes such as theft and deceit, Ford explains that most all bad behaviors are caused by people's secret feelings of shame. A whistle-blower in the best sense of the term, Ford shines most brightly when sharing her burning passion to encourage people to drop their masks, admit their shadow qualities, and live true to their genuine spiritual selves. Ford knows the pain of having been unfairly labeled a tattle-tale, yet she also appreciates the heroic nature of her unique type of calling to bring light to previously dark subjects. Ford describes shadow personality types so readers may recognize many masks we wear to present ourselves in the world as something other than how we truly feel inside. Ford describes the masks we use to hide our shame in order to help us realize the damage we do when we pretend to be something we are not. She provides numerous examples of how such self-delusion inevitably collapses inward upon itself in the form of crumbling relationships, business dealings, and health. Readers can recognize themselves and others as wearing masks such as: seductress, charmer, bully, martyr, too cool, good girl, savior, intellect, entitled supporter, and more. Ford asserts that once we realize our artificial fronts are obvious to others and usually do more harm than good, we will feel inspired to do the hard work necessary to become more open, honest, vulnerable, and more true to our actual spiritual nature. Although much of the foundation for "Why Good People Do Bad Things" could be attributed to the work of pioneering psychologists such as Maslow and Erikson, summaries of previous psychological theories are not presented. Ford acknowledges that deep spiritual work can take time, and that people often mature at their own natural pace, so this book will hopefully motivate readers to see themselves and others more clearly, and begin to initiate positive changes. Since trust / distrust issues are not covered in this book, it is best suited to readers who already feel fairly safe in the world, and are ready to spiritually and emotionally evolve. "Why Good People Do Bad Things" is highly recommended for people seeking inspiration to walk a spiritual path, let go of ego defenses, and directly face their deepest fears. Debbie Ford's description of masks gives us a swift motivational kick in the pants to see shadow qualities we otherwise might not recognize in ourselves and others, as she exhorts us to see the value in dropping our masks, so we might better embody our intrinsic spiritual qualities of generosity, openness and compassion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the entire book interesting and thought-provoking. If you feel as though you repeatedly run into a wall and want to move on, read the chapter on denial. It is powerful and may help you make changes you have been unable to make thus far. Good luck!
kimolver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book that generated mixed feelings in me. I definitely appreciate Ms. Ford's attention to the subject of self-sabotage but I don't agree with her assessment of our shadow sides. (Perhaps I am more in denial than I think.)Ms. Ford does an eloquent job writing about the multiple ways we sabotage ourselves in our best attempts to do good and be good. I particularly enjoyed the chapter entitled, "The Masks." In it, she chronicles the various masks our wounded ego wears to show the world who we want them to see. It will be difficult to read that chapter and not see the mask or masks of your personal preference.What I didn't agree with was her statement that we have to embrace our shadow side and proudly proclaim how those qualites we or society has deemed negative actual serve us. Take nastiness for example. I may not want to admit any part of me is nasty. I want to always be nice, kind and good. So, when any nastiness surfaces, I attempt to keep it buried because I've decided it isn't good.Ms. Ford suggests that we are equal part positive and negative traits. In order to fully integrate ourselves, we must embrace both sides. She suggests that nastiness might serve me well if I've hired a contractor to fix something in my home and he is repeatedly not doing the job he was hired to do in a competent manner.Here is where I diverge from her thinking. Certainly, the majority of people, wouldn't fault anyone for getting nasty in a situation like that. However, I am personally on a spiritual quest. I have embraced the idea of transcending my ego, as Eckhart Tolle, David Hawkins and others discuss. This is my past. So, while I recognize that my ego has all personality traits associated with it, my preference is moving beyond ego to my spiritual self where there is only love and acceptance.So, depending where you are at in your journey, I think you could find this book useful. If you are challenged by feelings of unworthiness and find you can't be authentically who you are, or you are involved in a lot of self-sabotage, then you may want to pick up this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read when it comes to understanding your behavior and why you do a lot of the things that you do. It also helps to understand others. I had so many ah-ha moments reading this book, it wasn't even funny. I am now working to forgive myself for a lot of those things.
LLine More than 1 year ago
Debbie Ford's book helps to acknowledge how projections play out in our lives. I recall hating it when I heard other people say you are projecting - I actually did not understand or recognize the depth of such comments. The idea that what we see in others is within ourselves made me cringe, how could I be like them? In reality its not that simple. Debbie helps to understand the concept of accepting the negative aspects of yourself, rather than ignoring them or denying them by focusing only on the positive. Its about embracing all of yourself with love and compassion, which enables you to no longer feel a charge from anothers behavior or worse find yourself reacting outward. Instead you experience detached awareness without the emotional response, avoiding the drama or shadow dance.
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