We hold tightly to our stories. Afraid to share their truths.
Preferring to appear normal, to fit in, we end up hiding behind masks, feeling alone and disconnected. Unknown.
We are afraid to disclose our stories because we have attached feelings such as shame, embarrassment, weakness, regret to them. These negative associations stem from the irrational belief that we should have it all together, all of the time, in every area of our lives. Measuring up to some form of family, cultural, societal, economic, or professional expectations and standards.
We have bought into the belief that life is at its best when it is consistently smooth, productive, positive.
This perception is supported when everyone else seems to be enjoying easy, successful, happy lives.
Yet, what we are observing is not the reality of each other’s lives, but only the images that we have chosen to present. The stories we prefer to tell. The ones we want others to believe.
We are reluctant to share our hardships, betrayals, breakdowns, worries, mis-steps, or disappointments. All which leads to critical and influential chapters of our stories being concealed from others.
Our misguided hope is that by wearing masks, presenting an image to the world, we can protect ourselves against potential criticism and judgement.
Sadly, our fears prevent us from stepping into the simple humanity of our lives. And from living out the simple truth of our stories.
In “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, Peter Scazzero uses the Iceberg Model to describe this phenomenon of burying our truths. He suggests we are like an iceberg when we permit only about 10% of our true selves to be known, and keep the other 90% deeply tucked away.
Scazzero suggests that in order to be emotionally healthy we must embrace our full humanity. This means accepting and acknowledge all of our physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and social dimensions. Honestly and openly accepting how we are doing in each of these five dimensions helps us to face and deal with our issues and effect positive transformation.
Sczazzero states, “We can’t change – or better said, invite God to change us – when we are unaware and do not see the truth”.
The brilliance is that when we begin to hold our stories more loosely, and start to share them, we open space for our true selves to emerge. And we can start to live out the full, unique beauty of our stories.
We start discovering the personal strengths that helped us navigate our most challenging, disheartening chapters.
Authenticity permits others to lean in, and offer solace and comfort. Love reaches into the darkness, bringing warmth and light and hope.
Burdens are lightened when they are shared. As we release our heartaches and struggles into the caring hands of God and others, there is freedom. Energy that has been expended to repress and conceal, is now released to be used in positive, more affirming ways.
Relationships start to flourish. As we become known to each other, we can forge genuine, healthy relationships.
We discover that we are not alone. That others share similar experiences, thoughts and feelings. A sense of “me too” is fostered.
When stories are kept in the dark our imaginations embellish them, spinning them to be more intimidating, frightening, insurmountable or shameful than they actually are. Once they are brought into the light we can see them with a greater clarity and objectivity. Stories seem more manageable. More bearable.
Dr. Gabor Mate in his book, When the Body Says No, The Cost of Hidden Stress, discusses how repressing the emotional aspects of our stories influences our physical health. He states, “repression is a major cause of stress and a significant contributor to illness.” So when we stop the “civil war inside the body” and allow our repressed feelings and thoughts to surface, it contributes to better physical health.
Sharing stories allows us to tease out the parts where we have personally contributed in some way. When we face how we have acted, we can start taking responsibility for our negative contributions. Dr. Mate states, “There is no true responsibility without awareness.” And once we become aware of our negative behaviour, we can repent and make amends.
Scazzero suggests that as we begin to live authentic lives we are transformed emotionally and spiritually. We begin to “respect our full humanity.”
Living authentically means bolding reaching below the surface, bravely acknowledging even the most difficult aspects of our stories, and courageously walking into our truth.
Our stories matter.
Each has its own unique beauty and value. With a power to influence and encourage others.
They have been written to be shared, recognized, honoured. And celebrated.