Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Everybody has secrets, small and large. Secrets are challenging. It's an interesting ethical question whether or not to tell secrets, your own or others'. But it is also an energetic challenge. Keeping secrets requires a lot of physical strength because even a little secret is like a wriggling baby or animal at times, struggling to get free.
When someone says, "I'm going to tell you something someone else told me, but you must promise not to share this with anyone else," that means this person does not have the fortitude required to hold the wriggling baby and is asking you to assume responsibility for holding the energy. It took me most of my life to realize that the correct response to such statements is, "Please don't tell me. I can't promise to hold this secret for you." Many people are very disappointed when I say that - they don't want to have to hold the secret all alone.
The man behind the web site Postsecret created an ingenious way in which people are able to share their secrets anonymously. I've seen exhibits of thousands of postcards he has received over the years. What a public service! He's a genius! Wow.
Of course not all secrets should be kept. Some secrets must be told. I'm thinking of the secrets people hold because they are ashamed or fearful to say them aloud. Secrets that result from a sense of shame are unhealthy for body, mind and spirit. Many times, not always, these secrets are best shared with someone who is professionally required to keep them. Telling these secrets to a healer gives the therapist (or whomever) context with which to work more effectively. When the secret has been named, there's a burst of energy that always accompanies the telling. It's very powerful! Once out in the open, the healer and client/patient can then begin the work of healing the shame.
We who promise to keep secrets for our clients have an interesting time managing the energy of all the secrets. Some of us gather with peer groups where we can tell the secrets without identifying who these secrets belong to. That really helps! Sometimes I think one day I will write a tell-all book of the secrets I've heard in my professional life. But of course I never will. Those secrets will go with me to the grave. Gossip involves the telling of secrets that should be kept safe and sound. I am against gossip, even more so because I have experienced the sting of a story coming all the way back around to me, distorted and hurtful. Ouch!
I think about priests and psychotherapists who must listen to, and keep forever, thousands of secrets. I wonder why they don't spontaneously combust after taking in so many thousands of secrets. They are made of less flammable stuff than I!
Keeping secrets that should not be told as well as telling secrets that are a source of shame builds character as well as physical fortitude. Deciding what to hold in your heart, what to tell, builds core strength. I'm sure there is a physical aspect to this as well, though no one has yet studied its effects.
May you keep secret all that should not be shared, and tell all that should not be hidden. May it be so! Shalom!