write a journal

Our Little Secret: How to Unravel the Truth Within

We are all hiding something deep within ourselves. And we know that we are hiding it, and we also have a feeling that everyone else is hiding it – although we’ve never talked about it with them. It’s what Rumi called “the open secret.” The essence of this secret is the inner feeling that we have no idea what we’re doing.

It’s the part of us that feels like a fraud – a fake. It’s the part of us that wonders how everyone else does it. We wonder how they have this whole life thing all figured out. How can they keep it all together, and why can’t we? It’s the part of us that wonders what part of the magic formula are we not clear on? What are we doing wrong?

And yet, rather than simply coming out and asking someone about this, we hold it deep inside and cover it with shame. We believe that something must be horribly wrong with us if we are the only ones who can’t figure out how to be a part of this world. And so we learn to cover up this shame with a mask. We learn to send out our representatives into the land of “I’m fine.” and “Everything’s swell.” We enter the world with our best selves – our accomplished selves. We learn to play the game.

See if you recognize your own representative in any of these examples:

  • Why, of course my house is immaculate, even though I am working full time and raising my kids.
  • Yes, I received another promotion at work – while still spending many hours each week serving on the board of a worthwhile charity.
  • Surely, all of us always have time to cook nutritious meals – only organic products in my home.
  • Oh, I never leave the office before first clearing out my inbox, color coding all of my files, and sprucing up my workspace. Don’t we all do that?
  • I exercise for a full hour each and every day – making sure it’s a mix of cardio and strength training.
  • I always live a balanced life – making time for friends at least once per week, making sure I have some “me” time, and always keeping my family happy.
  • I make sure I get a full eight hours of sleep each night, but not before writing all of the wonderful things that I am grateful for first.

Does any of this sound familiar? I realize that these are extreme examples written to make a point, but many of us aren’t too far away from this in one degree or another. Because we want to be loved and accepted, we don’t want to come across as not knowing what we are doing – not being perfect – or not excelling in our lives. It seems like everyone else has it under control, and so we strive to make it look like we do as well.

We are all simply playing the game. It’s a game that we are really good at – it’s a game that we know so well. Except, this game is truly exhausting, isn’t it?

And so one day we slip. We forget about the game, and when someone asks us how we are doing, we tell the truth: We aren’t doing very well at all. We wake up every single morning and wonder how we’re going to make it through the day. We go to bed feeling like a fraud. We can’t remember the last time we were fully honest with our friends and family – or even ourselves. We don’t know what it’s like to be real and authentic. Our souls have been begging us for years to come out with our insecurities and vulnerabilities, but we didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t have this whole life thing figured out. We didn’t want to tell the world that we couldn’t hack it here. We didn’t want anyone to know that we weren’t good enough or smart enough to figure it out.

But in this moment of perceived weakness, something amazing occurs. We have now given permission for our friends, family, and everyone else we touch to set their representatives aside – take off their masks – and simply be who they have always been: human – perfect in their own imperfections.

What a beautiful gift you have given them. All because you were no longer willing or able to play the game. You let your secret out. You let your true self come forward.

So let’s honor ourselves and each other by no longer being willing to play this game. Let’s be brave enough to allow our vulnerabilities and authentic souls to come out, knowing that this is such a powerful gift that we can give ourselves and the world.

I’ll start with my own secrets, and then I hope that you will keep this conversation flowing with yours.

I definitely don’t have it all figured out. I frequently feel that my life is spinning out of control, and sometimes all I can do is just crawl into my bed until the spinning stops. I am someone who helps others, and yet I’m oftentimes unable to help myself. I put myself last, and by the time I go to fill up my own cup, there is just nothing left to give. And my kitchen is a mess.

For those of you who know me, do you feel any less about me now that you know that I’m not perfect? Probably not. And for those of you who are just meeting me, do you no longer want to learn more about me and be my friend because I have shown that I don’t have everything all figured out? It’s not likely.

We are always the hardest on ourselves. If we could all learn to embrace our imperfections and see that we are even more amazing because of them, that’s such a great start to letting go of this secret altogether. As humans, we relate to each other through shared experiences. When we realize that we are going through the same hardships, it brings us together through empathy and connectedness. It’s such a freeing feeling to be real and genuine and completely ourselves. There is no need for secrets or games, not when being completely open feels so good!

 

Jodi Chapman is the author of the inspirational blog, Soul Speak (http://www.jodichapman.com); the upcoming book, Coming Back to Life: How An Unlikely Friend Helped Me Reclaim My True Spirit; and the bestselling Soulful Journals (http://www.soulfuljournals.com) series.

 

Editor’s note:

 

If you are ready to make your dreams come true, Jodi’s Manifestation Journals can help! These three interactive books are a guide to help you through three steps to creating your ideal life and keep you on track with intentions and resolutions.Step 1: Gratitude – The Gratitude Book: 50 Prompts to Keep the Grateful Feelings Flowing inspires you to focus on the positive and appreciate all the wonderful things already in your life.Step 2: Visualization – As If: 50 Prompts to Help Manifest Your Ideal Life helps you to clarify your vision and feel the same gratitude for things to come as you do for the positives already in your life.

Step 3: Commitment – The Commitment Book: Helping You Keep Your Word to Yourself helps you take consistent action, which will set the universal wheels in motion to help you reach your ideals.

Jodi is offering this set just for PTB readers for just $9.95 (more than 1/2 off)! Click Here!

 

You already have the dreams. Here are the tools to help them come true!

  • Amarosegreen

    I am definitely not perfect, but I do fear that I will disappoint the people I care about if I don’t live up to their standards.  And I have always put high standards on myself.  But I can’t be the person that they want me to be or that I hold myself to.  I can’t do all of this!  My apartment is a disorganized mess, and I don’t see my friends and family as often as I would like.  But I have lazy me time, and cuddle with my husband instead :)  Because that is what makes me feel good.  I don’t really have anything figured out and I feel so lost and confused about life…but I keep doing the best that I can. 

    • http://communityethics.co.uk Josh Chandler

      The moment you try to live up to someone else’s standards is the moment you lose control of what really matters to you.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       I love that you are doing what makes YOU feel good – that is really commendable and inspiring! You aren’t going to look back and remember how clean your house was – but you will remember those moments on the couch cuddling with your sweetie. :)

  • http://TheRawDIfference.com/blog Candice L Davis

    I find myself

    • http://communityethics.co.uk Josh Chandler

      Candice, avoiding becoming a perfectionist is the best way to live life.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

      I love that you gave up striving for perfection long ago! That’s huge – really.

  • Anonymous

    Being” totally honest” w/ family and friends does not work!  And ” NO ONE ”  will tell you their reasons ie:     “I don’t have  the time” ;  ”I don’t want other’s to “unburden” themselves on me” ;  ”It’s not my problem, I do not want to be in the middle”;  ”It’s complicated…you don’t understand”;  ”What you are saying is either too much , too little, or too political”;  ”Lets just agree to disagree”;  
     Or here’s my  favorite line…….(when I am sharing a PERSONAL perspective .. others too often , take the statement as something  which I am pointing out against them, and right away in defense  think I am ATTACKING THEM ? In response, I might get either “Stop judging ME”  ;”You are lecturing me,I don’t feel that way”; A four letter word or total silence and just a look, are  also typical responses. ; ‘”You have changed…I don’t know what you are talking about, why can’t you be the way you used to be?” really let’s me down.Here’s my  reality @ all this.  I have come to  realize over the years…. ‘It’s family who are saying  these things to me;  my friends NEVER brush me off’ ;  ’Total strangers find me engaging and interesting’, ‘So it’s not all  @me who is the problem’  ;  I am thankful for my friends……but miss my family very much .’

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       I’ve found that our friends can become our family. I’m sorry that you’ve had such a hard time with your birth family, but it sounds like your soul family is definitely there for you. Change isn’t always easy  – and sometimes it might just take time for members of your family to embrace and love who you have become. And if not, that’s okay, too. Even though it hurts – you have to grow into who you know you have always been.

      • Anonymous

        THANK YOU JODI Your reply is most helpful. god Bless you :)

      • Anonymous

        GOD BLESS YOU

  • Alice

    I’ve so often felt oppressed by the idea of having to be perfect for my parents (who have never actually imposed that on me) that I’ve created the opposite image to my friends, someone very imperfect. I think my biggest problem is finding where the true mask is, when I am at the same time so many people… so who is the true me?

    • http://communityethics.co.uk Josh Chandler

      Alice, I think the concept of trying to be perfect is really overrated. The great thing about parents is that they love you no matter what, so I think its best to show them you do have imperfections. :)

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       That can be very hard, Alice. I think if you spend some going within through meditation and journaling, the real you will begin to surface. My guess is that you are somewhere in between the two masks – a balance of the two.

  • Guest

    no offense, but ur life seems pretty set…even if ur faking it, habit does eventually become character. maybe u should make longer gratitude lists or watch the show intermission. And perfection is non-existant, remember? 

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

      You’re absolutely right that perfection doens’t exist. That’s why it’s great for us to stop trying to show our perfect sides, take off our masks, and be completely authentic.

  • http://communityethics.co.uk Josh Chandler

    Jodi, I find the more open I am with people about my mistakes the quicker I develop as an individual.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       I think that this is so true. Showing our authentic selves is such a freeing way to live. I feel that I can fully exhale when I am completely honest about who I really am.

  • http://givemeinspiration.net/ Robin

    I think people tend to dwell on life’s mystery by trying to figure it out. From my experience the best bet is to just let it be. It can’t be figured out, only the game played and enjoyed – whatever that involves.

  • http://Mazzastick.com/ Justin Mazza

    Love it Jodi. :)  Wanting to become perfect was something that I tried before. It was futile to say the least. Self acceptance is a much more realistic goal to achieve.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       Thanks, Justin! You’re absolutely right!

  • Tony

    Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to not have it all figured out.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       You’re so welcome, Tony. I remind myself of that every day. :)

  • Haikuluke

    Jodi,

    I just wanted to let you know that I REALLY really appreciated this post. I think that probably the biggest and most dangerous pitfall of the new consciousness-as-social-media-landscape is the proliferation of false reality, false expectations, and a general polishing over of the human experience. It is NOT supposed to be a Disney movie. We are not built to be happy ALL THE TIME. We are meant to feel and share and give. I sincerely wish more people had the guts to talk about their shadow. But everyone sees the opportunity as a sign of weakness, quick to jump (like some earlier commenters) on a weakened “prey”. Real strength though comes from the depth of our experience. 

    Anyways. I really connected and feel this way all the time! Why don’t people talk about these things? 

    So thank you.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       Thank you SO much for such a thoughtful comment. It means so much to me to see that someone “gets” it. And you clearly do.
      I love how you say that real strength comes from the depth of our experience – so true and beautifully said.
      And it’s so true what you said about social media. So often, what we see on Facebook and Twitter is a positive snapshot of someone’s life – not the full picture. We aren’t likely to write about feeling down or frustrated or scared. And even though we know this for ourselves, constantly seeing these positive messages  from our friends can make us feel down and wonder why we aren’t feeling great all of the time. I’m all for honestly and living authentically. There truly is no need to have our representatives running the show. We are beautiful just as we are – in all of our humanness – in our happy times and our sad times.

  • Jan

    Thank you Jodi for a thoughtful and heartfelt post.
    I am in the position of offering others support and advice and I feel like a fraud sometimes. My secret is that most of my freinds think I have the work life balance sorted. I am not rushed, or in a frenzy I am trying to grow a business after changing tact. Clients are not knocking down the door as they used to. My challenge is to be optimistic and realistic when people ask me how business is going.
    Today I am feeling low in energy , but very sure I am on the right track. Your post was a timely message.

    Deep Gratitude to you.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       Thank you so much for such an honest comment! It takes real guts to allow yourself to be vulnerable and so authentic. It sounds like you are going through a transitional period, and we all go through ebbs and flows in our businesses – especially when we are self employed. I would bet that your friends will love you even more and feel closer to you if you shared the truth about what you’re going through with them. Sending you so much gratitude as well.

    • http://www.jodichapman.com/ Jodi

       Thank you so much for such an honest comment! It takes real guts to allow yourself to be vulnerable and so authentic. It sounds like you are going through a transitional period, and we all go through ebbs and flows in our businesses – especially when we are self employed. I would bet that your friends will love you even more and feel closer to you if you shared the truth about what you’re going through with them. Sending you so much gratitude as well.

  • Jan

    Thank you Jodi for a thoughtful and heartfelt post.
    I am in the position of offering others support and advice and I feel like a fraud sometimes. My secret is that most of my freinds think I have the work life balance sorted. I am not rushed, or in a frenzy I am trying to grow a business after changing tact. Clients are not knocking down the door as they used to. My challenge is to be optimistic and realistic when people ask me how business is going.
    Today I am feeling low in energy , but very sure I am on the right track. Your post was a timely message.

    Deep Gratitude to you.

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  • Amanda

    I always feel guilty, like I am and never will be enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/غلا-السعودية-غلا-السعودية/100003643188981 غلا السعودية غلا السعودية

    I am definitely not perfect, but I do fear that I will disappoint the
    people I care about if I don’t live up to their standards.  And I have
    always put high standards on myself.  But I can’t be the person that
    they want me to be or that I hold myself to.  I can’t do all of this! 
    My apartment is a disorganized mess, and I don’t see my friends and
    http://www.gla-ksa.com
    http://www.forums.gla-ksa.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/غلا-السعودية-غلا-السعودية/100003643188981 غلا السعودية غلا السعودية

    I am definitely not perfect, but I do fear that I will disappoint the
    people I care about if I don’t live up to their standards.  And I have
    always put high standards on myself.  But I can’t be the person that
    they want me to be or that I hold myself to.  I can’t do all of this! 
    My apartment is a disorganized mess, and I don’t see my friends and
    http://www.gla-ksa.com
    http://www.forums.gla-ksa.com

  • http://pristineperception.com/ Suzanne

    I have been accused of being a perfectionist. I didn’t believe it until I broke down in an intensive week long class I took of something so far out of my comfort zone, I found I couldn’t keep up thus feeling like a failure. I couldn’t keep up because I needed every step to be perfect before I moved on. Even though the millionaire instructors specifically talked about not being a perfectionist now, I continued. With this experience came great awareness. I haven’t completely cured of it though. I am a hypnotherapist and an exceptional one, but I don’t drive the clientelle I could have because I never have everything exactly as it should be…according to me. Big mistake!
    I guess it is time for another session. (on me)
    See, I am not perfect after all!!!
    And I never will be! And that is ok with me. Now. Finally.
    Thanks for the great post. It really is a pleasure knowing we are not alone.

  • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

    Jodi, this is a terrific post! I just watched Brene Brown’s latest TED talk on “Listening to Shame” and I think you and she are on the same wavelength. This is such an important lesson that you are teaching. Please keep us the great work!

  • Willstar987

    thank you for this article!

  • Eric_Bordner

    i love this 

    • Eric_Bordner

      I am really grateful that you decided to write this for the world :) 

  • http://www.motivation.net.au/motivational-speaker Motivational Speaker

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