I have a secret. In fact, I have more than one secret.
And I’m not talking about the ‘surprise party’ type of secret; the good secret that will eventually be revealed to a chorus of cheers and rave reviews. I’m talking about bad secrets. The secrets we keep because of embarrassment or fear. The secrets we keep because we don’t want to be judged or pitied or both. The secrets we keep because we don’t want to make other people uncomfortable.
We don’t want other people to know that we acted so rash or foolishly. We don’t want to bare our inadequacies. We don’t want others to know that something happened to us that made us ashamed.
As a matter of fact, my big secrets are all shame-based. I don’t want to be judged by others so I turn that thing into a secret and tuck it away, push it down, and try to hide it. The problem with keeping shame-based secrets hidden is that they don’t go away. They may be buried under other things in your life, but they still haunt your dreams and take away a piece of you.
These secrets diminish us and hold us back. They keep us from our full potential. We value other’s opinions over our own well-being. We care what other people think just a little too much to let go of our secret.
But here’s the problem with that. Keeping your secret from others does not help you resolve your issue. It doesn’t help you come to terms with what happened. It doesn’t help you move past it or at least figure out how to deal with it in the future. It does keep others from feeling uncomfortable for a bit, it does keep others from judging you on the topic (at this moment), it does keep them from feeling sorry for you or from being angry at you. But that is not the truth. Their actions or non-actions, thoughts or non-thoughts are a result of you harbouring your secret.
Some secrets are bigger than others I will admit. Some cut deep and cause pain. Some prevent you from living your life. And those are the worst kind of secrets. In order for you to truly live your life you have to let them out. Set them free.
I’m not saying that telling your secret will fix everything. In fact, things may get worse for a while. But it will start the internal healing process for you. You will be able to address it, accept it, put it into perspective, and maybe even figure out how to heal things and move forward.
Secrets don’t go away when we try to smother them, they sit festering below the surface of your life. They are wounds that need to be healed.
And as for me, well here is a secret that kept me frozen and afraid for many years: I got fired. I know, lots of people get fired, but it happened to me and I was mortified. I didn’t want anyone to know. How was I going to find another job?
That was in 1998 and it still bothers me a little bit to this day. In some ways it made me afraid and think less of myself, my confidence had taken a beating. The shame affected not only my work-life but my home-life too. I really think that the way I dealt with it was the beginning of the end of my marriage. The secret shame that I was carrying around weighed on me heavily.
But I am no longer going to be shamed by it. It happened. It’s in the past.
I’m sure some people will think getting fired is no big deal, but it changed who I was and who I am. I am no longer going to let it bother me. It was a lifetime ago. I am stronger than that now. So I am telling you all and taking away the power of the secret. I am letting it flow out of me, not to be harboured again. I have other secrets too but those are for another day and perhaps a smaller group of confidants. But for today I am releasing this one.
If you’re feeling brave, dig out one of your own secrets and let it go. Tell someone. Tell everyone. Embrace your faults, your trials and tribulations, your heartaches. They have made you who you are today whether you wanted them to or not. If you keep them secret they will continue to affect your life. If you free yourself by telling your secret, the power it holds over you will lessen and lessen.