Getting Naked: On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right time, the Right Place, and with the Right Person

Getting Naked: On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right time, the Right Place, and with the Right Person

by Patrick Williams


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, March 27

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504359368
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 07/22/2016
Pages: 164
Sales rank: 890,579
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.38(d)

Read an Excerpt

Getting Naked

On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right time, the Right Place and with the Right Person

By Patrick Williams

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2016 Patrick Williams
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5043-5936-8


The Power of Self-Disclosure: Stories from Your Journey

The title of this chapter comes from my experience of times in my life when emotional nakedness had good results ... eventually. This is what I want for everyone who reads this book, to either remember or to create positive outcomes from careful self-disclosure now in your life. These experiences might be memories of bumps and bruises along your journey, but they no longer need to be painful.

Just as scars are visible reminders of an injury or wound we once had, hopefully the pain that accompanied them is gone. But scars are also metaphorical and psychological reminders for those memories, experiences, and challenges that have stretched us to fully experience life as it happens, good or bad, positive or negative, or challenging or inspiring. Our life gives experiences to us. What we make of them is the key, and we don't have to do it alone. Take what life gives you, learn from it, and move forward with the help of a committed confidante or two. Someone once said, "Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important. Capture the good times. And if things don't work out, just take another shot."

One of my major beliefs for much of my life has been that personal and spiritual development is a process. You can either just let it happen and be an observer, or you can be more purposeful in your personal exploration and be a participant in the unfolding or emergence of your being.

My earliest memory of learning the value of self-disclosure for the purposes of experiencing and claiming what is unique about others and myself was in my Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) group at age fourteen. Our youth minister would have us engage in some games that would teach us how to learn new perspectives about our self and our friends in a safe and fun way.

For example, I remember all of us being in a circle and being asked, "If you were an animal, what animal would you be?"

We were then to choose that animal and explain why we chose it, what characteristics of the animal might also be similar or desirable in our personality. Then the others in the group would comment on what they saw in me that related to that chosen animal. Or did they see me as a different animal and why?

We would then go around the group and repeat this process. It was fun and revealing without being deeply emotional. Other games and experiences like this in a safe and trusting environment, which was not confrontational, led to increased self-awareness. Within an atmosphere of curiosity and exploration, experiences like these were a major influence in my lifelong quest to be self-aware and to assist others to know themselves more fully.

As I matured into young adulthood, I was an average athlete in high school, sitting on the bench in basketball and doing well in track and field as a pole vaulter and runner. But I discovered I was accepted more at being a leader in student politics to influence a positive atmosphere for all students. I was pretty well accepted by the various cliques, groups, and races, I guess, because I cared and was curious about different human experiences while suspending judgment.

I learned the following from my early childhood as my father would frequently have foreigners stay with us for several weeks while they came to Wichita, Kansas, to learn management skills or manufacturing from the Coleman Company, where my father was the personnel director and later vice president of labor relations. Those experiences of people from India, China, Mexico, France, and others instilled in me an appreciation for different perspectives and viewpoints without being judgmental. I was just curious and fascinated.

This was tested in a very memorable way when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the black students in Wichita rioted. I was at a state track meet and hit over the head with a pipe. But my black teammates came to my aid and saved me from further damage, an act of kindness that impacted me greatly And in the weeks following, I used my leadership and communication skills to be part of community discussion groups for quelling the racial tension and hearing from blacks, whites, and Hispanics anything they wanted to share. It was one of the best experiences of my early life. Those discussions, with an adult facilitator but with high school students having a voice, were eye- opening to me. This was an early and influential experience of being naked and vulnerable and listening to others sharing their truth and experiences in a safe environment.

As I entered college in 1968, it was a time of great transformation in society and me. I entered as a freshman wearing dress slacks and sweaters, and by 1969 I was wearing John Lennon glasses with longer hair and hippie beads and going from drinking beer to smoking pot and experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs. Yet I didn't overindulge. To me it was an experiment in living and trying new things without becoming obsessed or overly distracted. (I still made straight A's and graduated with honors.) My partying was planned to not interfere with learning. Not everyone was able to do that.

College was that place between the safety of home and the real world of working and living responsibly, which I knew was just around the corner. College in the late 1960s allowed me to experience lots of new learning, both in and out of the classroom.

I chose psychology as my path, but not to become a psychologist. I wanted to explore more about what made people tick and to learn about the good and bad along with the healthy and unhealthy of the human experience. Psychology 101 introduced me to lots of theories of human behavior, and much of those theories of child development were based on Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Karen Horney, and others who extolled what is called a psychodynamic perspective.

Freud's theories based on the belief that instincts of sex and aggression were our two main unconscious forces driving our behavior did not excite me nor resonate with my intuitive belief about being a human. And the other prevalent psychological viewpoint from behaviorism of B. F. Skinner and his followers and theories highlighting the power of operant conditioning did nothing in my view except make humans sound like unconscious robots.

Then I was fortunate enough to take a class, Psychology of Satisfaction, an experience that, to this day, was a turning point in my education and career path. It was a class about research the professor had done on an South Pacific island regarding happiness and satisfaction and which factors were influential for that to occur. In this seminar I was introduced to the theories of Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung, four of the influencers of the Human Potential Movement and later the branch of humanistic psychology, which looked at people less mechanically and studied the farther reaches of the human experience.

That, of course, led to lots of learning opportunities in this growing Human Potential Movement and led me to attending multiple workshops at Esalen Institute in California on two occasions for a week each time. Esalen was a hub for the Human Potential Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and opened my eyes and ears to new possibilities.

These forays into self-exploration included everything from yoga and meditation to research on psychedelics, encounter groups, dance, art, music, and, of course, clothing-optional hot tubs later in the evening on this Pacific Coast paradise. Needless to say this was an eye-opening experience for me at age eighteen and nineteen, along with a transformative experience in understanding myself more in the larger scheme of things. I began to see the power of self-disclosure and experiences with being naked (figuratively and literally) in a safe and accepting environment, and I believed this was a key learning for others seeking to be more fully alive.

As I continued my studies in college, I took several classes in what at the time was called sensitivity training. We did things to enhance the senses: smell, touch, quiet listening, and so forth. And of course, encounter groups were the rage. I even experienced a nude encounter group as another way to lose one's masks and discover what's behind them. Again I don't share this as a way to suggest you need to get naked literally, but at those times, it was a direct link to getting naked emotionally. And it did open my eyes to the varieties of the human experience and find ways to feel free to take off our protective armor.

Some of these experiences were not so good, as a motto of the time was "Let it all hang out" or "Tell it like it is." Sometimes these groups were an excuse for people to be mean and attacking, but I survived. And there were many other times when tender and deep emotional sharing took place that engendered even more my desire for exploring the human experience as fully as possible.

Surviving and thriving in the 1970s experience — and yes, there were many lessons — then took me to the real world for a year of working for Hallmark Cards Crown Center Project in Kansas City. I could not stand it with the corporate culture, office cubicle, and management hierarchy, and so off I went to get a master's degree in humanistic psychology at University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia, a town of twelve thousand mostly Southern Baptists and rural folks who had a tolerant relationship with the college psychology students who were studying "weird things" in their estimation.

And yet I met many locals at antique fairs and country jamborees and immersed myself in the Southerner experience for the two years I was in Georgia. My wife, on the other hand, did not enjoy moving from her home of Overland Park, Kansas, saying she went across several states she'd never been in before.

Looking back, I know she felt out of place and disconnected, even though family visited and we had fun. She was not fond of living in Georgia. More than twenty years later when we would get divorced, I learned this was actually the beginning for her of feeling lonely and weary of my willingness to be such a risk taker and explorer.

We had a great twenty-one years together, but the divorce brought a new reckoning for me with what I was hiding at the time. The challenges with my two teenage daughters did cause some painful experiences then. Happily, all is well now, more than twenty years into a new relationship with my new wife and my new life. I cherish the maturity of my daughters, grandkids, my stepson, and step-grandkids, and I even have an amicable relationship with my former wife.

The humanistic psychology program at University of West Georgia was a continuation of exploring human potential in multiple ways from Eastern philosophy, Jungian psychology, parapsychology, and other studies in consciousness. And luminaries in the field and many visiting scholars of renown taught me. It was a hotbed of humanistic psychology.

A transformational experience that took place and impacted my world ever since was my meeting Sidney Jourard, a famous Canadian psychologist, at a fish fry at a professor's house. He had come to guest lecture and was famous for his theories on the importance of self- disclosure expressed in his book, The Transparent Self.

He was staying in town for a while, and I handed him my copy of the book for his signature, which he gladly wrote. Then I stated how much I liked it and said I wanted to write a book someday.

He said, "Give me the book again." And then he wrote, "Pat, if you never write your book, you have no one to blame but yourself." And then he signed his name, Sid.

In those few minutes, he had gone from Dr. Jourard to Sid and left me a personal message that impacted me then and now.

But the real story is this: the next day, my professor shared the sad news that, while Sidney was working on his car outside his home in Tallahassee, Florida, the jack collapsed. The car fell on Sidney, killing him!

You can imagine how his message to me revolved in my brain for years until I published my first book in 1980, Transpersonal Psychology and the Evolution of Consciousness, which was designed for an introductory course on transpersonal psychology. I sold thousands of copies over a few years to colleges, and then it became outdated and is now out of print today.

In 2002 I co-authored my first professionally published book with Norton Books, Therapist as Life Coach: Transforming your Practice, which I dedicated to Sidney Jourard. And I have co-authored six other books, which all sold well, but they are all professional books.

This book, Getting Naked, however, is the book Sidney Jourard was challenging me to write.

A choice, which confronts each of us at every moment, is this: Will we allow others to know us as we now are, or shall we seek instead to remain an enigma, wishing to be seen as something we are not? Throughout history, humans seem to have chosen the road of concealment rather than "openness." Professor Jourard maintained that this strategy all too often results in sickness, misunderstanding, and alienation of self.

My favorite poem, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, has been a symbolic view of how I have always cherished the less chosen path.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I
took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In The Transparent Self, Sidney Jourard's premise is that self- concealment can lead to "sickness, misunderstanding, and alienation from self." He argues that "man can attain health and fullest personal development only insofar as he gains courage to be himself with others and only when he finds goals that have meaning for him, goals which include the reshaping of society so that it is fit for all to live and grow in."

His idea of a fully functioning human being was someone who had at least one person in his or her life with whom he or she could talk about anything. Without that, he contended our psychological health would suffer, and our efforts to grow would be held back.

My friend and colleague Michael Arloski, a renowned wellness coach and author, writes about Jourard and his studies of self-disclosure. In his 1968 book, Disclosing Man to Himself, Jourard shared work he had done on self-disclosure in counseling groups.

Trust, Self-disclosure and Groups:

Counseling group members were identified as having disclosed about themselves in one of three ways over the course of the group experience: 1) self-disclosed very little, 2) self-disclosed a lot and early in the group, or 3) self-disclosed gradually over the course of the group. The level of trust that the group members felt towards each other was then measured. Surprisingly the group trusted the least was not group number one, but rather group number two. Those who shared too much about themselves too fast were trusted the least. The gradual self-disclosers were trusted the most. This lines up with the personal experience most of us have with self-disclosure in our daily lives. People who reveal deeply and rapidly often repel us. This is because self-disclosure is reciprocal. The expectation is for you to match the self-disclosure level of the other person."

So if you are not a revealer and are around someone who shares to the extreme, you will likely be uncomfortable. Find those who speak and listen with your rhythm, which provides safety and comfort for honest and meaningful conversation.

My encounter with Professor Jourard was a marvelous shared experience of respect and encouragement by one of psychotherapy's shining lights. I learned so much from him in his books, and my short meeting with him in person sealed the deal.

Getting Naked is about learning how to be open about your authentic self with the rest of the world, at least those you trust. It is about how being secretive about yourself can lead to physical, mental, and emotional sickness. Can we actually try to live healthier by being honest with our fellow humans about who and how we are?

Get real. Be authentic. Be courageous. Make contact and empathize. Trust and disclose yourself, and invite others to do the same.

I share all this history to say how that transformational moment came from me sheepishly sharing at a moment of feeling naked at age twenty-five to a prominent author and psychologist that I wanted to write a book. And when he challenged me with a wink and his statement, I knew someday I would.

When you are honest with another and share what you have kept hidden or at least well disguised, it invokes what I call the unexpected turn. Every conversation presents the opportunity for two experiences. It is both common and predictable with no surprises and little revelatory information, or it takes an unexpected turn. Once you are surprisingly honest with a trusted friend or colleague (or they with you), it usually leads to a more heartfelt and personally connected conversation.

Granted, many conversations are just meant to be mundane and as expected, but how would it be if you sought out opportunities for self-disclosure? If you asked someone, "What are your passions or big desires? Tell me something exciting in your life" instead of our usual greeting of "How ya doing?" that would lead to more truthful and useful dialogue.


Excerpted from Getting Naked by Patrick Williams. Copyright © 2016 Patrick Williams. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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


Chapter 1: The Power of Self-Disclosure: Stories from Your Journey, 1,
Chapter 2: Becoming Real: The Velveteen Rabbit Principle, 17,
Chapter 3: 50 Shades of Play: How to Have Fun While Seriously Living, 35,
Chapter 4: Your Shadow: Don't Leave Home Without It, 48,
Chapter 5: The Emperor's New Clothes: Transparency in Our Work Roles, 57,
Chapter 6: From Soup Cans to Cyber Sharing: Modern Communication and Privacy, 72,
Chapter 7: Naked Relationships: The Challenge of Authentic Intimacy, 81,
Chapter 8: Skinny Dipping: Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin, 111,
Chapter 9: Prison Break: You Had the Keys All Along, 127,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Getting Naked: On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right time, the Right Place, and with the Right Person 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
mistermr More than 1 year ago
With wit and wisdom Patrick Williams guides us on how to fill the inner emptiness and unleash our greatest gifts. Life’s biggest purpose is to discover belonging, connection, meaning and ultimately self-actualization. A must read book for anyone interested in becoming whole and fully alive.