I’m not a big fan of secrets. It’s not that I can’t keep one. In my younger years, I was a master at keeping secrets. No one at school had any idea there was so much chaos at home due to my mother’s alcoholism. That secret I fiercely protected. For many years I believe I was overlooked by the Academy for “best performance in a family drama.” All kidding aside, these days during my Family Constellations and Life Coaching sessions, I see very clearly how family secrets poison relationships and affect the entire family system. Once they are brought to light, they can be looked at and healed. While lurking in the darkness, secrets cause all kinds of problems.
Granted, not all secrets are bad. Keeping a secret about a surprise birthday party or a secret vacation getaway can be fun. However, even these secrets can cause stress because one has to remember who can know what information. This weekend I had a huge forgiveness opportunity around that kind of secret, and the person I needed to forgive was me. Unfortunately, this is often the hardest person to forgive.
A dear friend was presenting new material at a high profile spiritual workshop, and she told me that she was a little apprehensive about it. I felt inspired to do something nice to let her know how much she was loved and supported. When I pondered this, it occurred to me to create a picture with some of her favorite characters on it offering words of encouragement about her talk topic. My first thought was to send it directly to her phone in a text message. But instead of following my original guidance, I decided to post it on her personal FaceBook page so that other friends would see it and add their own encouraging words. Seemed like a good idea, right?
Well, right before I hit “post,” that little voice inside me questioned whether this was indeed a good idea. My friend had told me not many people knew her talk topic, but I overruled my doubt with the rationalization that only a few close friends would see the post. None of the people attending the workshop would see it. Besides, hadn’t she hinted at her topic in marketing videos? Surely it wasn’t that big of a secret. I soon learned I was wrong. It was a BIG secret, and the organizers of the event (the only ones who officially knew the topic) wanted to keep it that way. My friend sent me a sweet email early the next morning to thank me for my thoughtfulness, but she explained she had to take the post down before any more people saw it. My heart sank. I imagined how freaked out she must have been when she saw that post. It was intended to decrease her stress level, not add to it. I felt despicable, believing I had gotten her in trouble with the organizers and broken her trust. I allowed my ego to beat me up about it most of the day.
I reached out to a few trusted friends who knew the whole story. They did their best to reassure me that all was well. They reminded me that my intentions were pure and I meant no harm. Still, I felt like I had done harm because I hadn’t listened to that little voice. In the big picture, I knew it would be okay. This was just my ego finding yet another way to make me feel guilty. A Course in Miracles says:
“Love and guilt cannot coexist, and to accept one is to deny the other.”
Because I was accepting guilt for the wrong I thought I had done, love was not available to me in that moment. I didn’t remember to use one of my favorite prayers, “Holy Spirit, please help me to see this differently.” I always get an answer that makes me feel better when I make this request. But since I didn’t ask, I stayed in that sad place until later that day when I received another email from my friend. Not only did the audience give her a standing ovation, but the organizers had already invited her back next year. I cannot describe the feeling of relief that washed over me when I read those words. I only wish I could have allowed myself that feeling of relief much sooner. As is usually the case, all that suffering was self-made. The whole experience was a powerful lesson that reminded me of three things. One, listen to that little voice. Two, be gentle with yourself when you believe you have done something wrong. The eyes of Love still see you as innocent and whole because that is the Truth of who you are. And three, I really don’t like secrets!
Are you having a hard time forgiving yourself for something? Perhaps someone else? Is it difficult for you to hear that little voice? I’d love to assist you with Life Coaching and Family Constellations. Both will give you tools to help you forgive, find inner peace, and increase your ability to hear that little voice. You can find more information about both on my website, as well as dates for upcoming events.
Until next time, listen to that little voice, be gentle with yourself, and shine light on those secrets!