6 Ways Out Of Secrets, Shame, And Stuck-ness
The secrets we keep locked away–buried deep beneath the comings and goings of our everyday lives–are eating us alive.
Okay, so that sounds a little dramatic now that I see it in print. I’m not suggesting they are bacteria-like but you know what I mean, right? Keeping secrets takes a significant toll on our mind, body, spirit, and perhaps worst of all, our secrets keep us stuck in behavior and thought patterns that suck the life out of our lives.
As an organizer and life coach, and now through the Sick of Being Stuck Program (SOBS), I’ve worked with lots of people who came into my world because they were not, for many different reasons, living the lives they desired. Some of them–particularly when their challenges include clutter, weight, money, or addiction–were paralyzed by their shame.
Even when they know the actions that need to be taken, they just can’t. No energy. No time. No whatever it takes to make different choices than the ones they made yesterday.
The beginning of the story usually goes way back, either to ineffective patterns we learned in childhood or a trauma that stunted our personal evolution. We adopt coping mechanisms to help with the sadness or fear or whatever else we don’t know how to heal on our own. It works for a while but eventually the coping mechanism starts to backfire. It becomes more of an obstacle than a solution, and we begin to slide back into the darkness or fear. (Or maybe those are the same thing.)
What starts as a broken heart soon shows up in our homes as clutter, our bodies as illness, etc. Our work may suffer, and our relationships with people, food, and money become distorted. Especially creativity, it seems like it’s the first thing taken hostage.
There are many, many ways out of the darkness. Whether you’re working with me or one of the other 2.7 billion other options (only a slight exaggeration), the critical first step is admitting your need for support. This action is often the hardest part but it is also takes less energy than anything else in this process. It is sharing the unspeakable with others, a coming out process of sorts.
People share their secrets and it allows them to begin to heal, to shift, to move forward in the recovery process. In fact, just this morning, several people in my classes told hard-to-tell things and we could immediately feel the energy shift.
I didn’t do anything for SOBS that I’d promised I would do this week.
I got sick right after I signed up and even though the month is halfway over, I’m just getting started.
I’m scared to dig into the stacks to find the tax papers because… I’m afraid of how bad it will feel when I find the other things I’ve neglected–checks I haven’t deposited–and now it’s too late.
Next: My confession… and a light bulb moment.
I recently shared a “confession” of my own in private support group setting. The daily reading was about staying positive, about letting go of negativity about the way that other people are showing up in the world. Something about it struck me to the core, exposing a truth I hadn’t previously recognized about the way I interact with myself. I wanted to acknowledge it to the group (because we’re all into that sort of thing).
I rarely feel negative about anyone else. Seriously. It’s optimism to a fault. But, I have spent most of my life feeling almost exclusively negative about myself-my body, my skills, my future, my… everything. I’m healing and I’ve come a long way in both directions-seeing others more realistically and myself too-but it’s still a reality every single (expletive) day. That is all.
I posted it, and then further confessed that I was resisting deleting the first post because I suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable. I hoped that by sharing, the counterproductive thoughts would begin lose their power. I did it because I wanted to be free from that old way of thinking, and just willing the negativity away hadn’t worked. Actually, it never works. If you tell me to ignore the pink elephant in the room, I won’t be able to get it out of my mind whether it’s there or not.
Soon, my very wise and gentle friend Rachel offered this:
I like to think of (a secret) like mold . . . exposing it to sunshine kills it. Sunshine is POWERFUL.
Ding! She nails it again. (That happens regularly with her.)
Mold is the perfect metaphor for secrets. It grows like wildfire in the darkness, is a nightmare to clean up if it is still living, and exposing it to sunshine kills it. Yes! Exposing the mold kills it, just like exposing secrets destroys the power they have over us.
Next: Applying sun to our moldy secrets.
I am writing today with an invitation. I want you to let the cat out of the bag, to open Pandora’s box, and to empty your secret stash, because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that speaking the unspoken is the most powerful first step toward making a change.
In the spirit of Her Confessions, my very favorite feature in our local women’s magazine, I want to create a space for us to expose the secrets that are keeping us stuck. I’m working with my web designer on a more permanent solution but for now, here are three ways you can Apply Sun to your moldy thinking:
1. Post it below – This option is as anonymous as your Care2 identity allows.
2. Email it to Seeds & Weeds – I will have your email address but won’t ever share it. And I won’t even reply to your email unless you specify that I can. Email your moldy secrets to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them anonymously below.
3. Post it on the Wildflower Evolution page on Facebook.
If you have a secret that is keeping you stuck but, you can’t bring yourself to share in these ways, please find another way to open that door so that the light can begin to shine in. Here are three more ideas about how you can proceed:
4. Write it down – If you can’t bear to keep it, burn it and let the ash blow away. I suppose that typing them and then deleting them would work too.
5. Whisper to yourself – Sometimes when I’ve written the secrets but can’t yet share it with another, I will speak it to myself aloud. This is a simple way of building our courage around sharing the secrets that are keeping us stuck.
6. Tell someone close to you – It can be a friend, therapist, or anyone who feels like a safe person. It helps to tell them what you need from them first, so they don’t have to try to fix it, or anything else that’s totally impossible for someone else to do.
Again, what’s important here is that we find a way to free ourselves from the shame because it keeps us stuck. It prevents us from moving forward, from making the changes we wish to see in our lives. Do whatever it takes to kick open the door because… your life is waiting for you.
Sample Secrets (Certainly our real ones will be better but you get the idea, right?):
- I put on the big show for my boss and everybody else but really, I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes.
- Everything look perfect, people even say we’re “so perfect” all the time, but I want to run away, find a new husband, and start all over again.
- I’m gay. (That’s the first time I’ve told anyone.)
- Nobody has been in my house in four years. It’s a wreck. I don’t even know where to start.
- I went to school for eight years just so I could do this job… and I hate it.