Maybe the secret to success, is in your secrets. Maybe sharing the one thing you never wanted anyone to know about you, or the thing you’ve never been able to talk about, maybe finally getting the courage to talk about THAT thing… maybe THAT is the thing that’s holding you back in areas of your life you don’t even realize.
I don’t say this assuming that every person reading this has a huge secret, but some of us do! Some of us are living in so much shame that we don’t even realize how the shameful parts of our lives that we’d rather just ignore, those parts are actually keeping us from a life of abundance and joy. When you live in shame, you are almost certainly disqualifying yourself from having a seat at the table. You are almost certainly believing that you will never be good enough and that you are unworthy of more for your life. You are almost certainly living a life where your actions are determined by what people will think of you. You are almost certainly living a life based on what you “should do” or “should be” instead of living a life based on what makes your heart sing and feeds your soul in the most fulfilling way possible.
Brene Brown, who has taught me so much about shame says this:
“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”
I want to challenge you to start thinking about the things in your life that might be holding you back because you refuse to talk about them or admit they are real. It could be as small as an insecurity you are dealing with or as big as an extremely painful experience or secret addiction.
Sharing my story and my deepest secret has been the key I needed to open up a door to endless possibility and purpose in my life.
As I’ve shared before, I had a dark secret for almost 10 years. I was bulimic and managed to hide it from every single person in my life, including my own husband who was with me for the majority of my battle.
Once I finally overcame bulimia, I STILL had never told ANYONE what I had been struggling with since I was 17-years-old and that fact, the fact no one knew, made me so relieved! I finally felt that with bulimia behind me, no one would ever have to know! I was going to take my secret to the grave.
Eventually a series of events led me to a point where I knew I had to share my story. It ended up being the BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE! I never imagined the self-love, the confidence and the removal of fear that would come by shouting out my secret.
The healing that I have experienced from opening up my deepest scar is something I am desperate for others to experience as well. It is SO powerful when you stand uncovered, embracing all of your imperfections and finally realize that you are STILL worthy! And not only are you worthy, you also realize that there were people in your life who you were surrounded by who desperately needed to hear your story because it let them know they were not alone. Your story gives other people permission to share their own story.
One of the biggest things I gained when I shared my secret was that I finally was able to listen to the voice inside me to follow my dreams. I could stop caring so much about what people thought of me. I was finally brave enough to blaze a new path for myself. It’s not a path anyone else has ever taken, or a path society would ever point me to, but it’s a path that brings me so much purpose and it’s a path that’s unique to me. For the first time in my life I feel total alignment. Even though the path I’m on isn’t totally clear to me, even though by the world’s standards I haven’t achieved success and even though I don’t always know where my next paycheck is going to come from, I have a peace inside me I’ve never experienced. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
All the credit for this… I give to God! He is the one who allowed me to find healing in what felt like a hopeless situation. He is the one who reminded me that MY WORTH doesn’t come from the size of my jeans, a number on a scale, the job I have, the neighborhood I live in or how perfect I can make my life seem on the outside. My worth comes from him alone! He is the one who reminded me that the voice in my heart was put there for a reason and that all I needed to do was to trust it.
We all have that voice inside us. It’s the voice that wants to guide you every step of the way in life. It’s the voice that’s always trying to push you to use the gifts and talents that most deeply bring you joy. It’s the voice that’s so desperately trying to keep you aligned with your greater purpose. It’s the voice that’s scary to listen to at first because sometimes it’s pushing us to take a leap of faith or do something that will make no sense to anyone else.
If you don’t know what voice I’m talking about, I would argue that perhaps your voice has been silenced over the years from cruel words spoken to you, painful experiences, shame, struggle, and straight up fear of failure. Even if you can’t hear it right now, I believe that voice is still there, but you might have to peel back some layers to uncover it again.
I have always lived my life TRYING to listen to that voice, but only up to a certain point. I was willing to listen, but only to the point that my decisions still made me look normal, only to the point that my decisions still made me look successful or made me look like I was living a life that would win the approval of OTHER people.
For example, I always knew that I had a passion for sharing people’s stories. I wanted to hear and tell stories that showed the strength of the human spirit; stories that inspired us all to be more. So, I went to school for broadcast journalism and eventually got a job on a morning television news show. I loved it! In fact, at the time, I thought I’d hit the jackpot! I had found my dream career! But often times when you work for someone else, you get placed in a box. I kind of felt like I was stuck in a box. I had so much passion to share stories that inspired greatness and a desire to travel and see the world, but in the position I was in, I knew I would have to settle if I stayed (not to mention that the schedule working in morning news is BRUTAL). I knew in my heart that if I stayed, I would not only be sacrificing some of my passion and part of my dream, I would also be sacrificing my health from constant sleep deprivation.
The voice inside me told me it was time to leave. The voice inside me told me I could create the job and life I always wanted on my own. The problem though is that I was too scared to listen to that voice. I was too scared to listen UNTIL I shared my secret… MY story.
You see, I was fine sharing stories of OTHER people, but sharing my story? It terrified me! Wasn’t I protecting myself and my reputation by keeping my story a secret? I really believed the best thing I could do for myself was to make sure MY FLAWS stayed hidden. But my shame was actually holding me back because I was so scared of what would happen if anyone found out. My shame was actually preventing me from fully listening to my heart and trusting the voice inside me.
Brene Brown puts it perfectly. She says shame has two distinct voices and if you hear either of these voices playing on repeat in your head, it’s a sign that you probably have some shame to work through.
The first voice of shame:
“Who do you think you are?”
The second voice of shame:
“You will never be good enough.”
When we live a life in shame, it’s like we’re crushing our soul. We are taking the purpose we were put on this earth to fulfill, crumpling it up, and tossing it out the window because we believe the lies of shame that tell us we will never be good enough to actually accomplish our dreams and we believe we’re not worthy.
The late Dr. John Bradshaw puts it this way. He says the great tragedy of our time is the murdering of the human soul which happens when we live a life in shame. He describes so perfectly how a child comes into the world with such joy and excitement for life, totally unashamed to be who they are. However, overtime the people in our lives, our family, our peers, our society and the collection of our experiences, they slowly smother the soul and that child begins to believe that they don’t have what it takes within them. That child grows up and begins to believe all the dreams they once had are silly and not practical. That child grows up and spends an entire lifetime living the way the world tells them they SHOULD live. That child grows up and spends an entire lifetime feeling unfulfilled.
Bradshaw goes on to explain that when we live in shame, we put up defenses. One of the most common defenses is to create a false self. So instead of listening to that voice inside us and truly living unashamed as we are, we play it safe and create a life that makes us feel acceptable to the people around us. We create the life we think we SHOULD live.
I want to stop this great tragedy! I want to stop the murdering of the human soul. I want to breathe life into you. I want you to know that you are capable! You have that voice inside you for a reason! Listen to it!
The sooner we can all realize that we all have secrets and that we all struggle, many of us with the exact same things… the sooner we will be able to give ourselves permission to embrace our imperfections and just be ourselves! To stop caring so much what people will think of our decisions and to just start believing in and loving every part of who we are.
For me… I couldn’t listen to that voice until I shared my secret. That’s why, I believe that maybe the secret to your success is in your secrets.
To the woman struggling with an eating disorder, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with her weight, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling to feel worthy of love, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with depression or anxiety, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with thoughts of suicide, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with the pain of an abortion, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with the pain of abuse, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman who has been a victim of sexual assault, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with alcohol addiction, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with drug or prescription medication addiction, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with food addiction, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with ANY form of addiction, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman struggling with the pain of infertility, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman who is struggling with health challenges, either mental or physical, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman who has mom guilt, you are not alone and your story will set you free.
To the woman who has experienced what I believe to be the greatest pain a human can experience, the loss of a child, you are not alone and while your story will not ever get rid of your pain, it will allow you to find purpose in the midst of loss and suffering.