What is your dirty little secret?
What is the one thing you hide because you are so scared of what other people will think? What’s the thing that you really don’t want other people to discover about you? That is your "dirty little secret", and that is the one thing that most stands between you and your power, your purpose and your best life. It is also one of things that makes you human.
"I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh-oh, they're going to find [me] out now'" - Maya Angelou
The truth is that we all have dirty little secrets that we don’t want other people to find out... and keeping those secrets is one of the things that is keeping you stuck.
An example of a dirty little secret
John is a high-flyer at a creative digital agency. He rose to the top quickly and is “successful” by many other people's standards. He has built a big reputation for out of the box solutions, makes excellent money and has great vision. His team love him and his colleagues only have good things to say. On the outside he is a very confident, charismatic man.
Not all is what it seems though. John spends a lot of time and energy hiding secrets from other people.
He feels isolated personally and professionally and feels quite lonely. He has problems in his relationships because of the hours he has to work. John is also scared of public speaking but has to do a lot of it in his job.
Worst of all, he is scared of being found out as being an impostor or a fraud who shouldn’t be in a senior position.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. John is extremely competent and capable, however, he secretly has poor self-esteem and believes he is not good enough...especially when comparing himself to others.
John might sound extreme, but his story is far more common than we would care to admit. Sound familiar?
Why is this a problem?
If we all have these secrets, why is this a problem? Surely that’s just human nature?
The fact that we all have the secrets is the problem.
John doesn’t want to feel exposed, vulnerable or weak. He fears what his colleagues will think of him if they find out that he has fears and insecurities. He suspects that his colleagues in the boardroom also have insecurities, but no one wants to feel exposed so they hide and their fears and don't talk about them.
These dirty little secrets are the white elephant in the room. It just isn’t acceptable for Mavericks - leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives - in business to appear weak or vulnerable…or human.
How many times have you sat in a meeting feeling nervous and insecure, thinking you’re the only one who feels that way?
However, if you really think about it, you know that everyone else in that meeting is only human and have their own worries as well.
Keeping these fears secret consumes huge amounts of energy, time and concentration. It also exacts a toll on your self-confidence and self-esteem. These secret fears exert huge control and and stop you playing fullout. They stop you unleashing your superpowers rob you of power.
The problem is not so much that you have the fear, but rather that it is secret.
I'm going to give you a principle to work with that was given to me by one of my teachers, Sonia Choquette. That principle is "if you name it, you claim it". In other words, those fears and insecurities have less power over you when you name them out loud.
Obviously, getting past your “dirty little secrets” goes way beyond a single blog post. However, here is an activity you can try which will help to loosen the grip of these secret fears now.
Version 1 — the Witness Technique (harder but more powerful)
Have a conversation with a person that you really trust — that could be trusted friend, a close colleague, a partner, even a coach or a therapist — and voice your worries and fears to them. This only has to be to one person, but the act of speaking your fears out loud breaks the power of the secret and allows you to reclaim your power.
The power of someone witnessing your vulnerability is hugely freeing and creates a high degree of connection with the other person. However, If this is one step too far, you could try the other version.
Version 2 — the Mirror Technique (slightly easier)
This version of the exercise is certainly simpler and easier but still may not be easy. It is extremely powerful though, and is worth doing.
You will need to be in a room where you can close the door have some private time when you will not be disturbed. You will also need a mirror as you will need to look yourself in the eye for this exercise to really have clout. This time, speak your fears and your worries out loud while looking yourself in the eye in the mirror. In effect, you are acting as your own witness.
Don't only speak about the things you are worried about, but also why you were worried about them or why they are fear.
You have to do this out loud though and doing in your head or on paper simply isn't enough. This is, in effect, hiding out. Saying it out loud means it's not a secret any more, even if the only person who is actually heard it is a person in the mirror.
Doing either of these exercises (or both if you really want to get on top of these fears) will loosen the grip that these fears have on you considerably. They simply won't have the same power over you. This frees up not only energy, but also resources and choices that were previously available.
In other words, you reclaim your power and gain more freedom. That has got to be worth it.
Leave a comment below and tell us what one fear or insecurity you are ready to release?
Image credit - pierre_tourigny/Flickr