Listening to family conversations all around me, and not just on the news, I can sometimes hear an old familiar voice that once was mine a long time ago. That was my self-confident voice, with a softer tone. It was smart, even eloquent at times and I don't recall when or how it all began. But that voice was from a time before my brokenness. I'm not a doctor or an authority on remorse or regrets, but I've witnessed the dark side of self-confidence that can lead to over-confidence, that might lead to even more pressure to stay on top of things. Someone who is over-confident has the hardest time owning even the smallest mistake! And the sad part is, sometimes people look to the overconfident and keep them feeling that way without recognizing the pressures they subsequently face when so many rely upon them. And others feel ignorant in not having come across this impostor in ourselves. But what's more apparent to me now is hearing their voice of authority that I once unknowingly carried around myself. With all good intentions, I now spend most of my days wondering how I might create a healthy reminder for myself to be aware and strive to be better. I hope I can convey here how my problems have changed me for the better by seeing and confessing my own mistakes or mishaps with others, and then learning to listen to them.
When we listen closely to both sides of our own conversations, and hear complicated or conflicted signals, it only means there is a third party waiting to be invited into the mix. These are the moments and breakthroughs that I can usually hear the source of what I'm saying. And I know this is a process for good when my heart is thinking instead of my head. That is the third person we all need to hear. This most important pause in the conversation comes from our authentic self that is longing to strengthen us. All we need to do is just breathe slowly. We don't need to know how to fix anything unless we have some genuine resources that would be beneficial to the conversation. Alas, these interior resources are something over-confident people rarely rely upon, and that's because, sadly, they are sure they know just about everything!
Have you ever noticed, as the years go by, and you've grown up and matured, that you're not as smart as you once thought you were? I know I have. Sometimes I even forget this and mistakenly think I'd love to have my old self-confidence back! But there are many other times when I see and hear things that my senses tell me are offenses. I notice this whenever I'm overly passionate about something; that's when my voice gets lost in the conversation. But whenever I humble myself for the sake of others, I usually hear that stronger heart-felt whisper. So it seems there's not much said of value without the heart involved in any conversation, and without the alchemy of our personal experience, tempered by regrets for our mistakes. By sharing our brokenness, we both learn more about each other, and become able to hear the truth! By listening, we know that others are just as lost and afraid as we are.
Confession is the most powerful secret of how to get along with one another in this world, but no one can tell anyone else how to do what they need to do. This is because everyone has different lessons that they must learn in their lives. I believe confessing can actually be helpful in lowering the current drug addiction crisis because we're not alone in running from our problems or anxieties. We see things more clearly and make better choices when someone else is listening. Even when we feel injured by someone, those injuries will be transformed when we reveal our secrets to each other. By doing this, we'll see and hear things that we never knew. But most of all, confession shows us how alike we are. And none of us can start living a healthier or happier new lifestyle while keeping secrets. And none of us can truly see the truth of who someone else really is without first looking at ourselves. But before you bare your soul, be careful to share only with those who can be trusted. You already know who they are!
The inner voice that takes away our over-confidence benefits everyone around us! However, this new-found inner voice is lost in a world governed by worldly concerns or political matters alone. I find myself asking the same questions that my own parents asked, such as "What are we doing wrong that we can't get across to one another, especially our own children?" I'm learning that the truth comes from experience, and from learning from our mistakes. Through confessing, we gain hindsight that shows us problems we might have prevented. Those of us who have corrected our mistakes and see them as lessons learned, are more likely to see other's mistakes as opportunities for them to learn. We openly share our mistakes because we're only human. And this sharing makes us wiser.
But something wonderful is actually happening for those of us who continue to work to amend our mistakes. We stay vigilant that our hearts are in the right place and that we maintain an open mind. We're aware of what we read, watch on TV, and the people we spend time with. We also don't stop asking questions about the brokenness around us because we feel compassion for everyone. We're here to help others understand the power of confessing because we're thriving through using it.
I believe confessing is the cure that erases all our mistakes, worry, and anxiety. It is a gift for those whose purpose is to resolve the matters of the heart. This heavenly place is also not easy to convey. And the richness that it brings isn't readily understood by those who haven't yet encountered the experience or the exhilaration it provides. Sadly, they might spend their whole lives wounded and searching rather than seeing that revealing ourselves removes our false pride.
Our over-confidence disappears through sharing and confession and we are much happier when we recognize this. It also gives us a mutual understanding and the serenity that comes from trust.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom, and a contributor to Anne Born's These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.