What is a secret? The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as, “Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.” The Urban dictionary classifies a secret as, “Information you tell someone when you want it to become public knowledge by morning,” and “Something you’re not supposed to tell anyone, but somehow gets out regardless of who told.” Or, my personal favorite, “No secret is really a secret.” Just like clothes cover up the parts of your body that you don’t want to expose like jiggly thighs or a fat belly, secrets cover up the parts of your life that you would like to keep buried. No matter how hard you try, your secret is never completely hidden. Even if others don’t know about it, you do. It infects your thoughts, actions, and view of the world.
Confidence, mystery, enigma, riddle, surprise, and “skeleton in the closet” are all synonyms of the word secret. Which one do you resonate with? Is your secret an enigma? Was it a surprise to you when it happened? Does it feel like a riddle that you’re trying to solve? Or, is your secret a “skeleton in the closet” that is kept on the top shelf in a sealed, non-descript box hoping never to be discovered?
Here’s the thing, you’ve been keeping secrets since you were a kid. Remember when your Mom would yell at you from another room and ask what you were doing? You would yell back, “nothing,” when in fact you were painting the wall, cutting gum out of your sister’s hair, or trying on make-up that you weren’t supposed to touch. We tell lies that become secrets to keep the heat off and to get what we want. It’s a reflex that seems innocent enough. As we evolve from stuffing more Halloween candy into our mouths than our parents told us we could have or not brushing our teeth before bed, so do our secrets.
No matter the secret, the reasons we keep them are the same. We are afraid, ashamed and loyal. We want to look good, be good, and be liked. We intrinsically fear that if anyone found out about what we are hiding, they would pull away from us. They might tell someone else. They would view us differently. We would be exposed and vulnerable, the target of criticism and judgement. That scares us. It is part of the human condition to want to be loved and accepted but the secrets we keep feel unacceptable. If we haven’t been able to accept our secrets, forgive ourselves and move on from them, how can we expect others too? We can’t. And we don’t. So, we keep them hidden.
Think of the word for a minute. Secret. What comes up for you when you read it? Say it out loud. How do you feel when you hear it? Do you feel mischievous? Does it bring up shame? Does it remind you of a school crush you had when you were a girl and didn’t want your best friend to tell? Or, does it illicit something dark and more sinister about who you are on the inside and the things that you have thought, said, and done. Whatever it triggers for you know this, your secrets were created to protect you. They keep you safe. They are a tool you use to survive the human experience.
Secrets are not all created equal. There are the harmless ones that are fun like keeping a surprise, there are the ones that we keep from others about who we are and the things we have done. And, there are the ones that we keep for others. These last two categories really hurt us. Think of how you feel when someone tells you something and you have to hold their secret. Maybe they told you they cheated on a test. Maybe they stole something, cheated on their spouse, or lied to their boss. You are left holding their secret. On the other side of that, we keep secrets about ourselves, what we think, what we have done and the things we are ashamed of. These types of secrets are stored in our body. We keep them physically – we get stress headaches, anxiety, stomach aches, depression and more. And so the saying, we are as sick as our secrets, is true. We are sick with the secrets we keep. We live small – we are scared that if anyone really knows the truth about who we are and what we’ve done that they won’t like us, love us, or hire us.
Living with secrets makes us doubt ourselves. I posted something last week that says, “Don’t let anyone treat you like free salsa. You are Guac baby. You are guac.” And isn’t that the truth? We are guac, but because of our secrets and shame we are walking around like we are free salsa. And we’re not. We are so much more than that. You’re so much more than that. Our secrets make us afraid. We live behind them and we don’t interact or show our true self to the world because of our fear. We hold back, and this keeps us from getting the love we deserve, the friendships we want, the job promotion and reaching our earning potential.
This week, I encourage you to write down your three top secrets in one column and in the column next to it, write down how these secrets are affecting you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Where is playing it safe with your secret keeping it small?
Join me on my next Facebook Live this Thursday at 3:15pm PST for part two of the Secret Series as we discuss the four different types of secrets and how they are wreaking havoc on your life.
I’m super excited to invite you to also join me on Facebook Live for Motivational Mondays at 10:15am PST. We will take control of our week by setting intentions, talking about motivation, and doing some serious goal-setting.
I am so glad that you’re here and I am looking forward to helping you break free from your secrets so that you can shine on purpose!