Exposing The Open Secret

I’ve been reading a brilliant book called “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser, and something she mentions early in the book has really stayed with me.

She writes about what the Sufi poet Rumi calls The Open Secret, which is basically the phenomenon where everyone walks around and says to each other things like:

How are you?

—I’m fine, thanks.

How are the kids?

—They’re great.

The job?

—Oh, you know, it’s the same…

And what people really want to say is that…

They can’t sleep at night, they think they might be losing their hair, they’re worried their spouse will leave them, worried their children will grow up to despise them, worried that their children may secretly despise them already.

That they feel as if their soul is being sucked out of them in a dead-end job that is nothing at all like what they had envisioned themselves doing “When I Grow Up”.

That they can’t ever seem to shake this repetitive pattern of choosing the wrong partner, spending too much money, drinking too much wine, overeating, wasting all their free time surfing the Internet or the cable lineup, or taking naps when they know they could be creating something brilliant.

That they’re terrified that their life is slipping away and they’re never going to really make anything of themselves.

Oh, and that they are sick and tired of feeling old, fat, exhausted, and pretty much like complete and utter shit day in and day out.

But all that comes out is,

I’m fine, thanks!

While I don’t believe that establishing a primary residence in Crapville is the key to a fulfilling life, I do think it’s a shame we’re all walking around pretending we’re fine when in fact we ALL have our dark nights of the soul (which, as someone once said, “always seem to occur at 3AM”).

The truth is that no one, no matter how successful, famous, beautiful, rich or seemingly lucky, is immune to that “I suck” feeling.

And if everyone feels that way, then how could it be true?

If that woman you admire who runs a successful business, has a seemingly blissful marriage, two beautiful children, abs of steel, a Mercedes, and a yearly trip to the Bahamas thinks “I suck” sometimes (maybe even a lot)…

Then why would you believe those little lies your own mind tells you?

But of course, it’s easier said than done, getting yourself to stop buying into your own abusive self-talk.

A good first step, though, is to disarm the enemy- to begin to see your supposed ‘angst’ for what it really is.

And the first step to doing that is simply to stop trying to pretend that everything is always fine.

To actually admit that you’re not perfect, and that you get bummed out sometimes.

By the way, I’ve seen a lot of people lately go (in my opinion) waaaaay too far in sharing their challenges publicly on their blogs and all over social networking sites.

It seems like all some of us do is share what isn’t going right, and then we stop there.

I appreciate the idea of trying to help other people feel that they are not alone. I get the intent, but I think vomiting your emotions all over your readers without providing some hope for dealing with those emotions misses the mark.

In fact, I think it often makes people go, “Me too!” encouraging them to stir up more tales of woe so everyone can share in the misery.

Instead, I suggest that we very gently, without a lot of drama, begin letting others see out humanity.

That instead of covering up our disappointments, fears, and anxieties, we share them.

But that we share them while recognizing - and helping others to recognize - that they really aren’t at all unusual.

That they don’t relate to who we are as individuals, but rather to what we are as human beings.

Lesser may not even be saying this in her book, but in my opinion. . .

The whole point of sharing the Open Secret is to expose it for what it really is… not a big scary secret at all, but a lily-livered little lie.

So, consider me a reformed Perfection Princess.

From here on out, I’m allowing the world at large to see that I am a flawed, sometimes frail human being who quite often happens to have a shitload of great strategies to pull myself out of the muck – but sometimes does not.

Who sometimes needs the help and support of my loved ones to get me outta there.

And thank God for that.

Thank God for my humanity.

And thank God for the love that surrounds me.

What about you?

Without feeding the drama in your life, what crappier moments can you admit to?

And what or whom are you grateful for in helping you climb out of them?