Tuning into your “dark side” seems scary. It forces you to smash the persona you’ve worn for your whole life. And it feels like exposing yourself for the world to see.

But nothing gives you more happiness, success, and love than integrating your dark side.

In this episode, I share 3 different success stories of former clients doing this and becoming more fulfilled.

One was a “tough guy” who tapped into his femininity. The second embraced more feminine traits and unlocked his masculinity. And the third was a conservative Christian who only kissed one girl who freed his sexual side.

Listen to the episode now and discover how to embrace your dark side.

 Show highlights include:

  • Why disowning your inner femininity makes you attracted to wild and promiscuous women (7:53)
  • How your shadow parts can sabotage your life (even if you’re ripped, rich, and have a girlfriend) (8:52)
  • The counterintuitive way tough guys feel happier and more fulfilled by tapping into their feminine energy (12:43)
  • Why growing up in an anti-male home stunts your career growth (15:40)
  • The “Road Trip Method” for unlocking your masculinity (17:31)
  • How growing up in a conservative Christian family hides your inner attractiveness (21:21)

    Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.

For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/

    Get access to all my current and future online coaching courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership program today at:


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Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.

David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I am David Tian, your host.

The previous two episodes have been devoted to exploring the shadow and the shadow parts, and two episodes ago, I covered what the shadow is and I contrasted that with a more sophisticated understanding of the shadow in terms of the various parts that have been exiled—and those are, in IFS therapy, known as the exiled parts—but also the firefighter parts that are often shamed and pushed into the shadows. [00:50.4]

Then I also covered how the shadow or shadow parts sabotage us in various areas of our lives in dating in relationships, in our effectiveness in many situations and contexts and environments in our lives, and especially in terms of our long term-happiness and fulfillment, getting in the way of that.

Over time, our personas start to break down, start to crack, and we, at some point, hit the ceiling of our effectiveness, especially in our personal lives and in our relationships, and anywhere that has to do with emotions—and that’s when we are forced to confront the shadow, and many people don’t end up looking in the right place and end up just staying with lots of inner conflict in their lives.

Then the third point I went into was just to explore the different types of shadow parts and really emphasizing how the shadow is not one unitary monolithic thing, but that we have different parts in our shadow, different shadow parts.

Then, in the last episode, I covered the two main methods that are effective in shadow work and I especially recommended parts therapy, specifically IFS therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy, as the best overall method for finding, healing and integrating our shadow parts. [02:12.5]

I also recommended, as a second method, directive coaching or any kind of coaching where it is helping you to take concrete steps to exploring those repressed energies, whether it’s sexual or anger, or exploring creativity that was interpreted as laziness, and those are the three examples that I worked with in the previous episode.

Especially that episode, two episodes ago, it was a pretty big one, so I highly recommend, if you are interested in the shadow and exploring and understanding what that is in your life, that you start with the previous two episodes. [02:48.8]

In this episode, I’m giving concrete, specific examples of how shadow work works and how it makes a big difference in your life, because if you don’t do the shadow work, if you don’t understand or find and understand and integrate the parts of yourself that are in the shadows, then you’re going to prevent yourself from experiencing, in the long run, that harmony, the inner harmony, the sense of being at ease, accessing a natural and effortless confidence and a natural creativity in your life.

You’re going to limit your effectiveness overall in your life, especially in any area of your life that has to do with emotions, which is almost every area, and you’re going to limit your success in the long run in life, and perhaps, most importantly, you’re going to run into a limit to your happiness and fulfillment and lasting joy in your life, unless you do the shadow work.

If you do do the shadow work effectively and you stick with it through the therapeutic process, and you allow those parts of you that were in your shadow to come out into the fullness and to be integrated into your psyche, into your internal system, then you will be able to access your sexual energy or that comfort with your sexuality, that healthy sexuality. [04:11.5]

You’ll also be able to access that assertiveness that comes naturally and almost effortlessly, and a sense of adventurousness that brings that joy with it, and you’ll also be able to access the kind of easygoing, attractive, easygoing nature of cool, and you’ll be able to access that natural creativity that’s within you that often gets lost and pushed into the shadows early on for many of us who are achievers. Those are just some examples of what power or effectiveness can come from doing the shadow work.

Now, if you do the parts therapy like I recommend and you go to find an IFS therapist and you tell them you want to do shadow work, it might be kind of odd for them because this is a term from Jungian therapy or psychodynamic therapy, and in IFS therapy, shadow work is basically half or more than half of what normal IFS therapy does for you. That’s one of many things that a good IFS therapist can help you with. [05:11.8]

The other main thing that IFS therapy helps you with is getting to know your personas and helping them to unburden. That’s not shadow work. That’s the opposite. What the shadow contrasts with is the persona. The persona is the outward, front-facing part of you that you present to the outer world and that you use to deal with day-to-day life situations, especially at work or at school, or any kind of achievement-oriented situation or environment.

IFS therapy will often start there with the part of you that presents itself first and then move into the parts that are in the shadows. You don’t need to say, I want to do parts work, if you approach an IFS therapist, if they’re good. The caveat, if they’re good. You just do the IFS therapy process and you see what comes up, and as a result, you will be doing shadow work, assuming, again, the caveat being that this person is a good IFS therapist. [06:10.3]

Okay, in this episode, I’m going to be exploring a few concrete, specific real-life examples of clients who worked with me or students of my courses who have undergone some shadow work and have experienced the power of that, so I can kind of give you a sort of before and after snapshot of it to give you a better idea of what happens and kind of walk you through the process that each of them went through.

The first example I want to bring up is James. By the way, none of these are real names. They’re all real clients and students, but I’ve changed the name just for privacy. James came to me for private therapy work and also joined the “Platinum Partnership”, so he also benefited from our recorded courses along the way. What James started out with was he had a great persona, or I should actually say that he had a few different great personas. [07:06.8]

He was a successful entrepreneur. He was also really fit and fitness was a big priority of his, and it showed. You could see in his Instagram photos, ripped six-pack. Then he also had a girlfriend who was, to him, a kind of validation of the effectiveness of his persona, validating that he’s made it, that he’s a man, and yet he was having a lot of trouble in this relationship and that’s a big part of why he came to work with me, to try to sort through this and he was having a lot of trouble with this woman who turned out to be quite wild and ended up being quite promiscuous.

Part of it was that James had, in himself, disowned the feminine parts of him, so he was attracted to a hyper-feminine woman, hyper-feminine in the sense of her feminine energy was wild and untamed, uncontrolled, and resulted in lots of acting out, tons of drama, lots of stepping out, but a kind of back and forth, so it wasn’t one dimensional. [08:14.0]

If she was just a purely promiscuous, wild girl, it would not have attracted him, but it was that she had the kind of veneer of a respectable business-oriented girl, but really at the core of what she was at that time and I didn’t get to know her, so I can’t say for certain, but at that time she was actually underneath it, this sort of wild untamed, unsatisfied feminine energy that she had not worked out very well.

But, anyway, that had attracted him, this promise of having a wild, feminine energy under his thumb, because he was in control of all these other parts of his life. He was a very successful multi-millionaire, driving luxury or supercars really, and had his dream lifestyle and felt quite validated in the business world. He also tamed his body and that was a big point of pride for him. [09:08.2]

Then he was, in a sense, taming the woman and was not going to be tamed by him, and he was, for years, buttoned up against this and it was wearing away at him, and it was harder and harder for him to maintain that persona of “I have it all together. I’m the Ultraman.”

The shadow parts of him that he totally was not aware of and didn’t understand were now sabotaging many parts of his life and he did not feel confident even in his business. He no longer had energy for or even enjoyed his workouts anymore and it was like forcing himself to go through the motions, not finding joy in the activities or especially the diet that he was maintaining, and then feeling just basically run over roughshod by his girlfriend. [10:00.8]

As we did our therapeutic work, he discovered these feminine parts of himself that first presented as kind of motherly parts and then presented more also as younger female parts, not very young, but more still in fertile age, I guess. He couldn’t quite pin down the age, but it was like late-twenties, early-thirties, and these parts of him really shocked him at first and he was kind of embarrassed and ashamed, so we worked through that.

Eventually he was able to discover that they had very powerful and important, and useful and insightful lessons to share with him. Of course, they had their burdens from the toxic masculinity of “be the macho guy”, never show emotion, always have it together, care a lot about how other people think, basically your appearance to others, that he inherited these beliefs from his father and his father’s guy friends. [10:57.3]

As he got to know these feminine parts, naturally, as he got to know them and helped them to let go of these burdens that he inherited from his father and from his mother, a kind of submissive role of a weak feminine, that as they let go of these burdens, over time, they naturally moved into really nurturing roles in his system.

As an example, he had some inner-child parts that were afraid because of various traumatic events in his childhood. They were able to feel a lot calmer and secure when he placed them with or under the care of the nurturing mother in him or the true mother archetype that he discovered was in his system. Then he also noticed that the younger feminine energy moved into a natural role of artistic and creative expression.

One of the things that he was moving into was that he naturally started to feel a desire to express himself through learning music and he really enjoyed that, just learning singing, and then he also opened up just doing dance that was more fluid. [12:06.8]

He had done ballroom dancing a lot before that as part of just the persona of, I suppose, a kind of James Bond type of figure, but then he moved, felt this desire to do more Latin dance and opened up his hip muscles, especially, and he didn’t even know that he could stretch those. Then he was more into this kind of yoga or yogic type of exercise.

It really changed his experience of life, just experiencing even new muscles in his body that he didn’t know were stiff and he was stretching those and then, of course, these new expressions of emotion. Then he opened himself up—because, before that, as just the tough guy with the ripped six-pack and the Lamborghini, he was more of the repressed tough guy, so it was more of a macho exterior and nothing gets to him kind of thing—as a result of incorporating and integrating the feminine aspects inside him that were in the shadows before, these shadow parts that in Jungian terms are the anima energies, integrating this into his life accessed for him a much higher level of joy, creativity. [13:13.2]

He was doing improv comedy. He was loving it. He was a lot more funny, a lot more loose and relaxed, and easy going. He didn’t have that stiffness in his musculature, in his posture and in his face, and because before he was a lot more self-conscious about his body and how he was sitting and so on, and that just led him to be looking like he was a lot more stiff and to be, in fact, stiff. Then incorporating the feminine allowed him to be relaxed and to access a lot more energy.

  What that did was it helped him to let go of the toxic relationship he was in and to attract women who were a lot freer, but also a lot more integrated themselves. That’s something he’s exploring and having fun with now as a free single man, exploring this humor and this new creativity and this new artistic expression, and this new freedom in his body of movement, new movements of yoga and dance that he had never experienced before. [14:14.4]

This is just opening up a whole new dimension to his life and really coming to a point where he is taking himself a lot less seriously in terms of these materialistic goals that he had inherited as a kind of toxic masculinity from his father.

That’s James, integrating the shadow parts of himself, the parts that were in the shadows before that were holding this feminine energy, the kind of repressed feminine, the repressed anima, and then bringing that and integrating it into himself has resulted in this great freedom in his life. [14:44.0]

Do you struggle in your interactions with women or in your intimate relationship? Are fear, shame, or neediness sabotaging your relationships or attractiveness? In my Platinum Partnership Program, you’ll discover how to transform your psychological issues, improve your success with women, and uncover your true self.

Get access to all my current and future online courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership today at DavidTianPHD.com\\Platinum.

That’s James. I’m going to also give you an example of a guy who has been working with us, first with our line courses, and then has come to meet me in person and then doing some work together therapeutically. His name is Neil. This man’s name is Neil.

He was raised in a home setting that was very feminist and anti-male, and as a result, he ended up repressing his own masculine parts to adapt to his aunts and his mother and his sisters, especially his mother’s female friends. His mother was a single mother and all of her friends were also single mothers, and they all had this toxic view, a very bitter and resentful view of what men were. [16:09.0]

Neil inherited that and, as a result, he had repressed his own masculine energies and a big part of this was independence. They kept him kind of codependent as a kind of little boy, a baby boy who couldn’t depend on his own decision-making. He couldn’t believe in himself or rely on himself to make his own decisions.

Over the course of time, we did “Masculine Mastery” with him and a whole bunch of other online courses, and he was able to unlock his own masculine energy and then to also disconnect from the toxic home situation that he was stuck in in his twenties. [16:50.2]

He was having his mother and his aunts, and his mother’s female friends, who kind of kept him in this prolonged adolescence of dependence of having him live basically in the home, dissuading him from moving out, dissuading him from taking jobs that would move him out of the states and become more independent and, in a way, more powerful for himself, and keeping him in this dependent position of a little boy, because they were threatened by his masculinity that he was growing into and the potential that he carried.

As he was able to come more into the fullness of that, he was able to release himself from the burden of taking care of their emotions and their comfort by keeping himself down, and he was able to bring out of the shadows his masculine parts that included warrior parts, especially warrior parts, but also included parts that enjoyed exploring and being independent and relying on himself—and doing his own laundry and cooking for himself, and also just being on his own and making do—and realizing, over time, as he traveled the United States on his own with various vehicles that he’s doing these road trips around the country that he could live on his own. He could survive on his own. He could rely on himself. [18:04.8]

That was just the first step, because as he was covering these masculine parts within him, he experienced this great amount of energy that he had repressed and that was part of what was driving him to just keep going because he was just loving exploring and moving forward, and going from place to place to place.

Even traveling internationally during a very challenging time during the pandemic and just making it work, and just being really flexible and fluid with changes that come up, because he knows he can handle it versus the way he would have done it before, which was to count on Mom or the aunts to rescue him and tell him to come back because they’ve got the room prepared for him and all of that.

Him not relying on their money or those times when it was tempting for him to call back home and have them kind of bail him out, but just relying on himself, and even at some points, for various reasons, having his ATM card stolen and being locked out of money, figuring out a way to get by in the hostels and whatnot until the bank could mail him the placement cards and all of that. [19:11.0]

Just making the connections with people to help him along the way, and having that inner resilience and self-reliance that comes from allowing these masculine energies and masculine parts—that were holding these masculine energies that were in the shadows and repressed—to come out and be integrated into who he is into the totality of his personality.

That’s Neil. Okay, finally, to bring up the third example of Nathan.

Nathan was someone who came on board with us through live coaching quite a while ago when I was focused mostly on teaching dating skills and he came from a very conservative religious upbringing. This religious upbringing kept him hampered into his early-thirties, which is when he found us, as a virgin in his early-thirties and not even having kissed a girl besides the two girls he kind of dated in his twenties, but the kiss was all that he had had. [20:13.0]

A lot of trouble with physical intimacy and sexual intimacy, and because at that time, I was still, several years ago, working on just training in psychotherapy approaches, we started more with a directive coaching method of just directly having him take steps to own his sexuality through tantra practice, through really just changing his fashion and allowing himself to, over time, become more comfortable with form-fitting clothes and clothes that were more sexual in nature.

He went out and got a sexy tattoo. He started to dress in more attention-grabbing ways of more sexual ways of more of a rocker and he had a style naturally that helped him. He could pick out his own pieces after he got to know it, which was quite remarkable. [21:02.2]

What I noticed is that he had all of these repressed sexual energies in him that, once he was able to basically give them permission to come out, they quickly enabled him to present a very sexually-attractive persona to women and, relatively quickly, once that happened, he stepped into his naturally sexually-attractive self.

In fact, it turned out, and I didn’t even notice, that he was actually a really good-looking guy and had very attractive qualities and had quite a lot of charisma, but all of that was repressed because of his incredibly conservative fundamentalist Christian upbringing and he didn’t think that, even just standing out, even just owning his sexuality as a man, wearing jeans that were fitting because he always just wore baggy jeans, anything to just sort of hide—[not] fitting in, that also means hiding, right, in the background, so you don’t stand out. [21:59.7]

Once he gave himself permission to wear tighter jeans that were form-hugging and just sexier clothes and more of a bad boy image, once that switch happened for him, he was able to come much more into a sexuality, and then it turned out, wow, he had these parts that were repressed that now came out.

Then he kind of went through a process that I did. I went through the reverse of not doing the psychotherapy process first, but instead doing the directive process and then moving into the psychotherapy. I don’t recommend that. That’s, generally, a longer process and it might result in making the psychotherapy harder later on.

With Nathan, luckily, I was far enough ahead that I could head him off at the pass, so to speak, to help him to continue that momentum of exploring the parts in the shadows, so that eventually in his psychotherapy work that he was able to find these inner-child parts that were repressed as well in terms of holding that vulnerability that he had repressed through his avoidant style of just kind of suppressing all of those expressions of sexuality that also included expressions of love and connection. [23:13.5]

He’d just told himself, “I don’t need any of it. I don’t want any of it,” and he kind of just cut himself off from it. Part of what opened up the kind of Pandora’s box for him was that permission that he started out with in the whole dating skills process of giving permission to a sexual parts to be expressed.

Then, in the psychotherapeutic process, exploring, starting with exploring the sexual parts that now had the freedom to be expressed in discovering their burdens, following that far back enough to find the parts of him that were much younger, that were holding the need for love and connection and not getting it, not getting it from his very restrictive family context and especially just the broader community that he was raised in, and then giving him the freedom to unburden and heal from that. [24:02.4]

Then those parts came into their fullness. They were previously in the shadows. Now they’ve come out of the shadows and are integrated into a system and he’s now able to access it. He’s basically like a love bug. He’s just full of love and connection, and he enters and gives his love, enters into relationships, intimate and non, but from a very giving place, a place of great courage because he is not afraid of being rejected or anything like that, because he has got so much love to give in him. He’s just surprising himself with how much love he has to give and it seems like a never-ending store of love for him, for himself, that’s coming out of him, and he’s able to direct it to others. [24:45.0]

He was starting out, when I met him, in a kind of pretty stale—what’s the word?—emotionally-absent [place]. He was in a tech field where he was purely a technician, never had to interact with any human beings in the course of his job. He could do all of his work purely remotely and now really craving that human connection that he can give to others. Now he’s moving into work that is a lot more involving other people and spending, in his own time, going out to places where he can give to others and make that human connection.

I don’t want to give away too much for his own privacy, but it’s an amazing thing to see him kind of flower in this way, starting with sexuality and really owning it, getting great results in terms of sexual attractiveness to women in a thriving dating life.

Then moving into this more evolved place of also being there for his inner-child parts that were in the shadows and integrating them into a system as well, and accessing that connection and love that has been there under the surface all along, and just finding the great joy of having unconditional love flowing from him and not requiring it to come back before he gives it out and it’s a tremendous joy that comes from that state. Of course, from the outside, it looks like courage, but for him it’s not a big deal because it just happens naturally and effortlessly. [26:10.7]

Okay, so I hope that those three concrete examples of James, Neil, and Nathan help you to see what it’s like and what it can be like to do the shadow work and to do a parts integration. Hopefully, this piques your curiosity to go further into the process and I recommend, as I did in the last episode, parts therapy first and then get some help with directive coaching.

In terms of the directive coaching, I have a lot of courses in my catalog that help you with that in terms of your lifestyle, relationships, masculinity, dating skills, the whole gamut. This has been a catalog that I’ve built up over several years. If you want access to the whole thing in one shot, that’s the “Platinum Partnership” and you can check out the link in the description to learn more.

In terms of parts therapy, I highly recommend IFS therapy. You can go to Google the IFS Therapy Directory and go search for an IFS therapist. I recommend Level 2 and above, generally speaking, and they indicate green light, red light, whatever, for availability, so you can find out who has got room for availability right now, who is Level 2 or above, in your time zone. [27:16.7]

Generally speaking, only the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand need to worry about restrictions around licensing and insurance, and it’s really archaic. In the U.S., you have to get licensed for each state, which makes no sense now with technology and Zoom and other secure platforms or video platforms. If you happen to live, or if you don’t really care about the insurance side of it and your therapist is willing to do so, you can find a therapist that’s in your time zone, because you can do this work purely through online video call.

That’s the modality I work in as an IFS therapy practitioner, certified. I work in online mode purely, and for myself getting psychotherapy over the past decade, I suppose, almost a decade, 99 percent of it has been online. You don’t need to be touching each other or anything like that. You just need a really good internet, a secure internet connection that’s stable and fast, and you’re good to go. [28:15.0]

If you are looking for outside, if you’re outside the U.S. or any of those, especially the U.S.—I think the licensing for state by state is mostly the U.S.—and you can look for a therapist in any in time zones near you, and time zone only because of just scheduling issues, that’s all. If you have a very flexible schedule, you can look for any therapist around the world.

Just as a caveat, I think roughly about half the therapists on that directory may not be very good, so I recommend that you find two or three or four or five, and you copy and paste the same sort of email to each of them just asking for availability for IFS therapy work. You can tell them you heard about IFS therapy through David Tian’s podcast and you’re interested in trying it out, and that’s it, and just check what is your availability, just like that. [29:02.8]

Okay, so if you’re interested in parts therapy, you can do that. If you’re interested in working with me for private therapy, currently, as of the recording of this, my morning slots, which are the ones that correspond to you guys in America, are all full and I have a waiting list on that, but you can join the waiting list by going to my website and finding the psychotherapy link.

If you are currently in Europe, Australia, Asia, I have slots that will work, generally, for that timing and I currently have one slot available. If you’re interested, you can email support@AuraTransformation.org or just find the psychotherapy link and learn more about it from there. But you can also go to the IFS Therapy Directory and check it out.

Okay, so I hope this has been really helpful for you, this three-part series on shadow parts, and if this has helped you at all, I would love to hear that in the comments. It helps with any kind of engagement on any platform, but I also just love to hear what you thought of it. [30:06.5]

Thank you for all the support and engagement so far, and if you liked it, please leave a rating on Apple Podcasts, and if you have benefited from any of these episodes, please share them with anyone else you think would benefit from them. Thank you so much for listening. I really value this, and I hope to connect with you soon, and until then, David Tian, signing out.

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