Are there aspects of yourself that you are so ashamed of, that you've never revealed them to anyone? Or even hidden them from yourself? These may be keeping you stuck in your life.
In my work with my clients, I've often wondered why some people jump right in to learning and growing and take off with it, while others seem to keep getting stuck. I've discovered that harboring a shameful secret is one of the reasons.
In order to move forward with personal development, we need to be accepting of ourselves, but it might be very hard to accept yourself if you have done something, or if you feel things, that are generally judged to be wrong or bad, or that you believe are wrong or bad. One of the things I've seen occur in our intensives is that the environment is so safe and accepting that a participant might feel safe enough to finally reveal the secret. Once the secret is out, there is much more space for self-acceptance and personal growth.
Emma was so terrified to be judged for her secret that she traveled all the way from another country to attend one of our Intensives. She wanted to make sure that, when she returned home, no one would know what she had revealed.
Emma lives in a country where homosexuality is not generally accepted, and she was terrified for anyone to know that she is a lesbian. A well-known person in her country, she was certain that her work would fall apart and that she would be completely ostracized by family and friends.
In the Intensive, she agonizingly shared her truth, and received complete acceptance and support from the group. In talking about how terrified she was for anyone in her country to know that she is gay, she received some interesting feedback: Most people felt she was gay from the moment they met her; she wasn't fooling anyone.
Shocked at this information, she wondered if people at home also knew her secret. This information, along with the acceptance she received in the Intensive, gave her the courage to begin to tell some family and friends at home. To her surprise, they responded in very much the same way as the people in the Intensive -- they already knew it and accepted her. She was blown away by the love she received in sharing her secret.
Now that she lives as an openly gay woman, life has opened up for her. She is no longer stuck.
Russell also came to an Intensive with a secret. He had been to a number of different therapies with no success, and finally decided it was time to deal with his secret. Having been sexually abused as a child by his father, Russell was deeply sexually addicted. His sense of aliveness and fullness came primarily from sexual energy. He was mortified that he was in any way like his father.
Russell was a man of high integrity, and he was deeply judgmental toward his own addictive behavior. He loathed himself for using women for his sense of aliveness. While he didn't abuse children as his father had, he knew that the part of him that used women was like his father. His self-loathing kept him stuck in not taking loving care of himself, which perpetuated the inner emptiness that fueled his sexual addiction. He could not value himself enough to take loving care of himself because he was so ashamed of his addiction that he could not face himself.
In coming clean in the Intensive and receiving the acceptance and understanding of the group, Russell was finally able to let go of some of his self-judgment. Russell could not be compassionate toward himself, and be judging, shaming and loathing himself at the same
time, which is what was keeping him stuck.
Accepting Your Wounded Self
What are your secrets? Have you been a stalker? Were you sexually, emotionally, or physically abusive in your past relationships, or in your current relationship? Were you mean and abusive as a child? Did you burn down your house for the insurance money? Did you kill someone in self-defense? Were you sexually abused as a child and liked it? These are big secrets -- and are actual secrets that some of my clients have revealed in sessions or in intensives. Revealing them is a safe environment, as well as compassionately accepting the wounded parts of you who made these choices, is vital for being able to love and value yourself -- and heal.
We've all done things we are ashamed of. Coming into authentic compassion and acceptance of our woundedness is essential for healing.
Connect with Margaret on Facebook.
For more by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here
For more on emotional wellness, click here
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more