Last week, I gave you step-by-step instructions on how to speak your truth with grace. By the way, thanks for all the comments on my blog; I even heard from many of you that you printed it out to carry with you- great idea! Everyone I know who is having the hard conversations in their lives reports amazing results, not the least of which are new freedom and peace. Though these talks don’t always go how you expect them to, you always learn and grow, and you always reinforce your experience of having power in your life. That’s the power of being true.
This week, I’m going to bolster my case for being true by telling you about some other nasty side effects of hiding. Be warned, this one is deep, but heck, we’ve been headed in that direction.
Even though we learn to lie and hide at a very young age, and rather innocently, the habit causes lots of problems for us: we experience guilt and shame and we have to manage keeping our stories straight, which can be exhausting and confusing. You know how good it feels to just “be yourself.” It’s a lot of hard work not to be. But the worst side effect is that lying and hiding can actually make you feel and go a little crazy.
Let me explain with a personal example. About a decade ago, I had a high-pressure job that I left “as a result of a nervous breakdown.” Just after being offered a promotion, I started to experience a heap-ton of anxiety. Eventually I got so bad at taking care of myself (my sleeping and eating was drastically reduced) that it was clear to everyone I had to go. This was truly a haunting memory for a long time until I figured out what really led up to the breakdown. I found a string of lies and omissions on my part.
It’s amazing how we get our lessons; I got mine by uncovering what I was hiding. Here’s the back-story you don’t know. The new position in the company I was being offered was one that I seemed to be good at. But, in fact, that particular role had been mine in a training period and I had failed at it, but had been “passed” anyway. Basically, I cheated my way to “passing” and now that role was going to be my job! Whoa! Sure, I had lots of other great qualities and I probably could have even mastered the job I was being asked to take, BUT my soul couldn’t “handle” it. I had backed myself into quite the corner. Not thinking I could admit the truth of the past (like failing at the job initially and cheating to get ahead) or voice my fears about my future performance (or my other concerns about the company), I started to talk only to myself about all these things. I believed my anxiety and fear, kept my mouth shut and the true me went into hiding.
Here is where hiding starts to make you a little crazy. I decided to stop being myself and telling the truth, and we know that can only compound itself. I stopped knowing and liking myself. Latching onto just my fears, it’s no wonder my anxiety level increased. The only way out I could see then was to leave the company, which eventually helped me get some perspective. But my point is, I never would have “lost perspective” if I had been telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Does anyone recognize themselves here? Do you remember a place or person you left to ensure your secrets or hidden beliefs never got revealed? Think about your family, your past loves, the friends you lost touch with, the jobs you left or made sure to get fired from; I’ll bet you’ve got a few in there. This is your string of “haunts” that shape your current life and how you feel about yourself.
You know where I am going. You know I am going to say you do have to go back and do what we call “an unraveling” of your haunts, and figure out how to tell the truth about you and your honest thoughts. But that’s not all. Then you have to day-to-day keep yourself on the mission of being true, of being only you. To me that is THE quest of life. And ironically, the only way you’ll ever get any rest.