Hello and happy Monday!
This is Susan Hyatt and it’s GO time.
This is the 46th episode in a series of GO mp3s designed to wake you up on your Monday morning and get you going.
In this episode, we’re talking about…
- why we keep secrets as humans.
- what it looks like to be vulnerable and own your story.
- a fun challenge I have for you this week.
Wanna read the full transcript? Here ya go:
I have a question for you…
Do you have a secret?
I bet you do. I know I do! Quite a few.
Almost everybody has at least one secret that feels like it can never be shared.
One thing that makes you think, “If anyone finds out about this, it’s all over.”
Maybe you secretly count every calorie or carb that goes into your body.
Maybe you secretly sneak outside for a cigarette when nobody is paying attention.
Maybe your business seems successful and profitable to outsiders—but secretly you’re barely hanging on by a thread.
Maybe you haven’t had sex with your spouse in four months. Maybe you had sex with someone other than your spouse four times in the last month!
Maybe you are secretly carrying a lot of credit card debt, or you owe the IRS money, or you secretly got a generous loan from your parents in order to buy your house and you feel ashamed that you needed their help.
Maybe your friends praise you for being so “pulled together” and for “achieving so much” but secretly you’re so overwhelmed with responsibilities and you’ve started having panic attacks.
Maybe secretly you don’t like being a mom and you regret having children.
Maybe you secretly got eyelash extensions or breast augmentation or Botox and you’re worried people will think you’re stupid and vain if they ever found out.
Maybe something else.
Why do we keep secrets? It’s very primal. It is hard-wired, in our biology as human beings, that we need to be accepted by our tribe. We need other people to love us, respect us, and approve of us. Otherwise, we’ll get kicked out of the tribe, be all alone, and get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.
Of course, things have changed, and hungry saber-toothed tigers no longer roam through our communities. But that same primal fear is still there—it just shows up in a different form. Today, it shows up like, “If the tribe finds out about my dark secret, then I might lose my job… I might lose my best friend’s respect… I might lose my partner… or my house… or my clients… or my kids.”
The consequences feel immense—so we keep our secrets hidden.
Sometimes, in my work as a life coach, a client will confess a secret to me that she hasn’t shared with anybody else. When that happens, I will often ask, “What do you think might happen if other people knew about this? What are you afraid might happen?”
It can be very interesting to explore what you’re ashamed of—and why.
It can teach you a lot about yourself.
Do I think that every secret needs to be shared? Not necessarily. You are entitled to whatever degree of privacy you want to have. It’s up to you to decide which parts of your story you want to share, and which parts you don’t. Nobody can make that call except for you.
But I will say this:
You might be really surprised by how people respond when you open up and share your secret.
You might be fearing the worst—when in fact, you might be greeted with love, understanding, and even gratitude.
When Ronda Rousey confessed—on the Ellen DeGeneres Show—that she’d had suicidal thoughts after losing a mixed martial arts fighting match, she was given a huge round of grateful applause. Ellen thanked her for being so honest, because if Ronda could have those kinds of feelings, and get through it, and survive, that gives so much hope to other people out there who might be feeling the same way.
When Beyonce release her album, Lemonade, she essentially told the entire world: “There is a long history of male infidelity, cheating, and betrayal in my family, and I may have stood passively and let it happen in the past, but NOT ANYMORE.” That’s not an easy thing to confess, especially when your husband is Jay-Z! But she did it. And millions of women are blasting her album, singing along, and saying, “Thank you for saying everything that I’ve always wanted to say, but didn’t know how.”
Piper Kerman, the woman who wrote the book Orange is the New Black, could have kept quiet about the year that she spent in prison. Uh, most people would! Instead she wrote a book about it, which got turned into a groundbreaking TV show that is starting conversations about all kinds of issues, from transgender rights to corrupt prison systems—a show that is changing the way that many people think about inmates by giving them a face, a voice, and a sense of humanity.
I don’t know Ronda, Beyonce, or Piper personally, but I am willing to bet that it was NOT easy for each of those women to reveal her secrets. It was probably really tough. She probably wrestled with the decision and weighed the possible consequences. But then… she did it. She said the truth. She bared herself to the world. And as a result, many people feel less broken, less weird, less ashamed, and less alone.
I’ve had many moments, throughout my life, where I have been convinced that if I reveal a particular secret, it will cause the people I care about to recoil away from me in horror. And you know what? Sometimes, people do recoil. And it hurts. But it is survivable, and it just helps to clarify who my real friends are, and who are not!
Often, though, the opposite happens. When I reveal a secret, most of the time, the people that I care about move closer to me, our bonds strengthen, and they express gratitude—like, “Oh thank you for saying that. Thank God I’m not the only one…”
Your challenge, this week, is to spend some time reflecting on the following questions:
What is your biggest secret?
What is the awful thing you’re afraid might happen if you share that secret?
But also, what if… the opposite happens?
What if sharing that secret enriches your life, strengthens your friendships, and creates even more trust and intimacy amongst the people you care about?
What if you receive fan mail and gratitude letters?
What if you help someone to feel less alone? What if you inspire someone to get help?
What if sharing your secret turns out to be the BEST thing you’ve ever chosen to do—not the worst? Remember: that is a possibility, too.
Perhaps this week, you could take a tiny baby step and share a secret that is not THAT terrifying for you. Maybe you could confess to your best friend: “Once in a while, I drink Diet Coke even though I know it’s full of chemicals and then I hide the empty can before anybody sees.” Or something like that. See how it feels to open up, just a little bit. Maybe, in time, you’ll feel courageous enough to share an even bigger secret.
The more you share, the more you allow shame to drain out of your body.
When you own your story, then it no longer owns you.
So, be brave. Share something you kinda-sorta don’t want to share. You can do it. And I can *almost* guarantee that you’ll feel better, not worse, once you do.
It’s GO time.