The Shame of Secrets

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

I kept a secret for over 20 years. A secret that, if told, would bring up too much shame, too much guilt, too much pain.

I was so scared that people would find out this secret that I would do anything to avoid the topic at all cost. I would divert a conversation or just downright pretend that I didn't hear the words 'parents' or 'mom' or 'dad.' For instance, when someone would ask me how my parents died they usually would offer up something like -- thinking they were helping -- "an accident"? I'd nod my head and murmur, "Yes, accident."

That's not how my parents died.

Most people keep secrets because we think we will be judged by it. We are afraid if we tell the truth it will be proof that we are unworthy and unlovable. Tainted really. The secret will show the world that there is something unfixable about us. That we really are damaged goods, do make poor choices and are just generally bad people.

I lied about my parents death until I isolated myself so much yet wanted love so bad, that I had to figure out another way. I couldn't keep the lie up anymore. It was killing me. I realized after twenty years of lying that living a lie didn't make me feel better, it just kept the secret, and the shame, alive.

So I decided to tell the truth. I thought I was going to die when I started saying the words, "My father murdered my mother and then killed himself right in front of me. I was 14."

I thought the world was going to swallow me whole. But instead, I found that I was the only one who had been judging me. Realizing that, seeing how no one ran the other way, gave me permission to start sharing the real me.

Whether your secret is your bad behavior at work or how you treated someone you love, secrets always involve shame. They stop you from facing what must be faced. Whether that's a negative attitude or low self-esteem or staying stuck in the never-ending victim place of 'why me.' Secrets create a reality that is based on anything but.

I am a big believer that secrets must be shared. Uncovered secrets relieve you of self-imposed guilt and shame. When that secret is blurted out, the baggage that goes with it is dumped as well.

Letting your secret out, in a safe place, with a trusted person, allows you to finally forgive yourself and let the past go. It helps you take responsibility for your life now giving you courage you need to start living more authentically.

So I ask you: What is the one secret you haven't shared with anyone? I don't care how petty or dumb you think it is. If you still think about it, it is shaping your life. Are you willing to let go of some shame today?

I've created a place where you can share that secret you don't think anyone can handle. The one that you don't think anyone will love you if they only knew.

Let me tell you the truth about secrets: Sharing a secret is an act of self-love. It takes courage and guts. And the gift you receive? It is something that you cannot buy: Self-acceptance.

Imagine your life right now if you accepted yourself. All of you. No, really.

You wouldn't have to be afraid anymore that anyone would ever find out the 'truth' about you. You would no longer have to hide your light, your passion and your desires. You would finally have permission to be you.

So go on. Share your secret right here. I will read every single one. I promise.

I send you love and more love as you fearlessly choose this act of self-love. Let go of your burden, it's time to be free. I am right here.

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