If you want to truly be successful (and happy!), you need to get naked.
I am not speaking here of nudity or physical nakedness (although that’s fun, too).
I’m talking about emotional nakedness.
The kind of closeness and honesty that happens with true vulnerability. Not just with someone close to you, but with yourself first and foremost.
It can change everything for your life and your relationships.
But in order to do this, you need a committed and caring and trusted witness…someone who will listen to you and without judgment.
And you need to face this “shadow” side of yourself, too.
Why you NEED to get to know your shadow:
Your shadow is an important part of your inner self, but it is often hidden from your awareness.
It is there, operating within you, and pulling strings you may not even know you have.
It is not some evil outside creature, it’s just another part of you.
Understanding that part of your everyday experience, including your love life, career, money, health, or parenting, is a reflection of your inner state, you can see why your shadow has a great impact on how you live your life.
Avoiding, denying, or ignoring your shadow is like knowing something is missing in your life, but it is too scary or overwhelming to face.
It is too filled with shame. But you can heal it.
The only answer is to befriend your shadow.
This is like pulling back the curtain (as Toto did to The Wizard of Oz) and revealing the programming that dictates your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors…and eventually your choices and outcomes in life.
In addition to taking back the power from those parts of you that hold you back from achieving your desired results — like a fulfilling love relationship and finding the happiest path in your life — getting familiar with and embracing your shadow can assist you in unleashing your unexpressed personal power, inspiration, and authenticity.
How your shadow holds you back:
For example, many people know they are extremely talented. But their life stories do not reflect their potential.
Or maybe they have a lot of love to give to others, but they find themselves chronically alone.
It’s because they are afraid to face their shadow.
So take a look at yourself, and be honest. You owe it to yourself.
Can you see how much energy you put into keeping yourself small?
Can you see how it does not serve you, or those exact people you try to protect from your “dark” side?
Can you see how much of your life force is suffocated?
Honoring these old truths, beliefs, and fears that served you in the past, but releasing their hold on you can free you.
Think of how much of your energy and inner power you’ve spent refusing to face your shadow.
Now think of how much of that energy, once you’ve released the hold it has on you, can be used to achieve progress in your daily life, your relationships, and desired results you seek.
Here are a few ways to bring some of your shadow into the light:
1. Examine Any Long-Held Stories of Some Shameful, Guilt-Producing, or Fearful Event or Experiences From the Past.
You may find, once shared in a new light, the power of those experiences will begin to dissipate.
Our memories and fears are usually blown out of proportion, or no longer relevant to our daily lives.
Our responses to those events usually no longer serve us after we have moved on from whatever happened.
But we cannot move on and be truly happy until we really look at them, even if it is scary at first.
2. Try to Re-Frame What You Perceive as Faults, Negative Patterns, or Things You Do Not Like About Yourself as Assets.
The only issue with these so-called faults is that they are over-amplified.
If you turn the volume down a little, these faults can become strengths.
This kind of examination will assist you in revealing hidden fears, beliefs, and even vows you have made.
Once you’ve really seen them objectively, you can honor them for their past service…and then release them.
Imagine that freedom!
3. Make a List in a Personal Journal of Those Things You Find Difficult to Reveal About Yourself.
If you could find someone who you could share this with to just clear it out of your hiding place, who might that person be?
A therapist? A trusted friend? A spiritual advisor? A life coach?
What would it take for you to imagine having that conversation? What would be a positive outcome to such a sharing?
If you keep some of your shameful, guilt-ridden, embarrassing stories inside of your personal storage, those feelings will always grow.
If you find a committed witness with whom to share, you will discover a sense of freedom that will allow you to reclaim parts of your history and design your future, beginning now.
And that is the true definition of emotional nakedness. Freedom to achieve — and love — to your highest potential.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: The BIG Reason You’ve Gotta Show Your Dark Side In Order To Be Happy.