We’re all trying our best to make it on this great big ball of water, air, heartache, and joy. And most of us, sadly, are listening more to the lies that tell us to keep our mouths shut and our heads down. We’ve honed the fine art of flying under the radar, but we are miserable as hell in the process. In trying not to rock the boat, offend our families, embarrass our partner, or embrace the things that have always shamed us, we are drowning underneath the weight of an illusion. The lies we believe are like massive stones tied around our necks, pulling us to the ocean’s floor, as we gasp, clamor, and cough, desperate for air.
Anytime we think that we are alone and no one gives a damn about our story, we deceive ourselves. In doing so, we rob the world of our unique perspective on survival and success. If you believe that your story doesn’t matter, that you are all alone on your tiny island of insignificance, and you die, holding all those secrets inside, you have kept your one great gift from the rest of us. And don’t be confused: the secret isn’t the gift. The gift is allowing those who care about you to know you completely. Fully understood, thoroughly loved.
When it comes to secrets and stories, the truth is, we’ve all got them. We are bound together in an indescribable web of love and loss, triumph and failure, honesty and deceit, plus all the lies we tell ourselves. All those ups and downs mix with the beauty and tragedy of daily life, but the one thing that connects us all is the power of story.
Your story. My story. The human story.
The one big difference between secrets and stories is whether or not you find the courage to share yours with the rest of us. If you hold all your experiences inside, fearful that we will trample your traumas and not validate your victories, the stone around your neck continues to grow. The longer you refuse to tell your truth, the faster those secrets drag you beneath deep waters. Secrets threaten to destroy you, but all you have to do to defeat the power of a secret is to speak it.
The good news is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. When you taste that freedom for the first time, you want more. It’s the domino effect in the very best way. Courage begets vulnerability. Vulnerability breeds courage.
Brene’ Brown says it best:
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
You may only whisper your truth at first. You might start by writing it in your journal, or sharing it in a text with your best friend. You may even find the courage to post it on Facebook or write it on your blog. Whatever you choose, the boldness to share your story with someone else will slowly begin to loosen the death grip those secrets have on your life. Little by little, story by story, you’ll find the freedom to step into the truth of your being.
This process has been happening for me for the past five years, as I have recovered from a suicide attempt. My secrets nearly killed me. But when I woke up in an ICU hospital room, numb from the waist down, from the amount of prescription and over-the-counter medications, I had two choices:
1) Keep doing the same old thing and eventually die from all that secret keeping.
2) Ask for help and find ways to share my story with the world.
My story includes childhood sexual abuse, addiction, and the shame of living with mental illness. But speaking my truth and embracing myself as a whole person has freed me to the be the most genuine version of myself. These days, rather than working so hard to spin another lie or create a new mask, I am embracing each day as a gift from God. I am telling my story at every opportunity and never turning down the chance to encourage others to do the same.
If this all sounds overwhelming and close to impossible right now, I hear you. I’d love to help. I have created The Writer’s Toolkit for folks just like you. I’ve been there. I designed this 7-part e-course for people who are exhausted from shame and secret keeping and are looking for simple, practical guidance on how to own their story and craft a powerful message.
If you’re ready to take your life to the next step, it starts with learning how to share your story. Sign up for The Writer’s Toolkit e-course today by clicking right here. You’ll have lifetime access to my instructional videos and web-based curriculum. You can work through the coursework again and again until you feel confident enough to move forward in sharing your story.
The Writer’s Toolkit is so much more than just another writing workshop. This e-course will empower you to be bold with your truth, creative in your storytelling, and give you the permission you’ve been dying for – to share your story with the world.
Sign up today. Just click here.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.