Are you brave enough to get emotionally naked? It was all I could do not to spell naked, nekked, which means being naughty. Seriously, I heard a famous actress ask this on a podcast recently and it struck me as having applications beyond her profession. Can you feel why she may ask such questions to play a character? Can you imagine why I ask this question in this forum?

For instance, I just wanted to run a car wash when I was a little boy. This was way before I understood the concepts of running a business. No, what I understood was that I liked the work—I liked the satisfaction of making something pretty again. Granted there’s a picture of me soaping up the inside of the car thinking I was helping, but I was four, so it’s precious. After all, cars drive better when they’re clean, right? I also feel I just liked bonding with my father over that ’67 Corvette rag top. I feel the same way about running my backpack blower and pressure washing with bleach.

Feelings matter. Your feelings matter. Just because we all live in the popular state of denial, to varying degrees, doesn’t mean we must remain in that crappy a$$-backwards neck of the woods. Mash those feelings down if you must, but consider the long-term costs. For example, perhaps a long-term relationship really needed to be a short-term relationship. It was fun while it lasted, it really was. It was definitely me and not you.

(If you have time and are in an appropriate place while reading this, pause reading, and YouTube the Chris Isaak video and listen to “Wicked Game.” It’s a haunted fantasy, if I ever heard one. This song never fails to elicit Angel bumps on my skin and takes me back to the 90’s like an episode of 90210.)

I should mention a caveat to the premise in the opening paragraph: Make sure you’re not surrounded by a$$holes when you consider your emotional disrobing. For, not all truths need to be told out loud, and definitely not in “mixed company.” What a wicked game we play, right?

“It’s strange what desire can make foolish people do.” (“Wicked Game”) Specifically, I’m referring to the desire to ignore what’s wrong until it festers into a 911 call. Before writing this column and studying the lyrics for “Wicked Game,” I didn’t realize there was even a chorus. The chorus keeps softly chanting, “This girl is only gonna break your heart.” Man, we sometimes just wanna hear what we wanna hear when we like a beat. Whew, that Helena Christensen sure was pretty and they were electric together in that video. Sure is hot when we get close to that fire though.

In times of reflection, I’ve snared judgments about myself believing that no one should feel this good. With inner demons like that, who’s got time to worry about voodoo demons? Can you believe a thought such as that? I bet if you use just smidgen of imagination, you can. There are probably more destructive thoughts such as this wreaking unrealized havoc on the reg. No, ignorance is not the bliss we’re looking for here. Ignorance is the thief in the night in this context.

How often is the hard way the “obvious” way—the only way ever considered? I submit that if we take the time to look within, it’s time well spent. Do you not think you’re worth it? Do you not want to see yourself in such a vulnerable position—soft underbelly exposed. Here’s the opportunity to flip a weakness into a strength by asking the right questions. The quality of the question will match the quality of the answer when we’re playing twenty questions with the Universe within. The Universe whispers softly to us most of the time, so listen up to that gut feeling. Listen up to that feeling that pops up and you immediately go, “Naaaa, it’s fine.” It most certainly is not always fine. Yes, sometimes you’re being high maintenance, so allow for that, but listen up to being minimized and marginalized by your thoughts. You may have missed something the first time, but it only means vigilance leads to success the second, third, fourth, and so on, time around.

Sometimes we’re just left to pray that our fantasies, as smoldering as they are, do not become reality. Recall the Universe gives us what we need rather than desire. Seek out in your lives where you can do addition by subtraction of distractions. Even if it drives you to distraction for a moment in time, it’s worth every bit of the effort. Your future self will thank you profusely.