• Sandy Reynolds

It's OK to have secrets.

Sometimes I wonder how the weeks are going by so fast when we are in the middle of a lockdown that basically has us confined to our homes unless we are on 'essential business.' Last week was full, and I didn't get a newsletter out. It happens.

I'm trying to decide where social media fits into my life these days. I haven't been posting as much recently. I am still on Instagram. You can find me @sandyareynolds. I like to connect but sometimes I wonder about the content - including what I post.

I have noticed a trend in Instagram stories. People are inviting their followers to confess their secrets. They re-post them anonymously. Many of them have to do with unhappy marriages, financial challenges or not liking someone in their circle of friends or a family member. I've been thinking about secrets and our need to confess and about the invitation to share secrets through the lens of people-pleasing.

Like many people, I am a mixed bag when it comes to opening up about my life. I know I haven't posted things in the past because I don't want to upset certain people. I also know I've put myself out there without worrying about what other people think. I feel free to share a lot of things publicly. And there are some parts of my life I am not interested in talking about with anyone beyond a few people in my inner circle. I've learned the hard way to have boundaries around what I share.

Do you ever feel a need to share more about your life than you feel comfortable sharing? Have you ever confessed a secret and regretted it? Did you tell someone something, and it changed your relationship with that person?

Sharing personal information is a delicate matter. Secrets can keep us trapped. Sometimes we aren't disclosing information because we are ashamed of something in our lives. Sometimes we don't open up because we are worried about what people will think. Or maybe the residual burn of sharing something personal with the wrong person has left you vulnerable and exposed as well.

Not sharing something that is going on in your life is okay. You don't need to tell every person you know everything going on. Even if someone asks you a personal question you don't have to respond unless you feel comfortable disclosing the information.

For those of us who struggle with people-pleasing, we often feel like we owe people an explanation. The truth is we don’t. You can do what you want without offering any explanation. If you don’t want to do something or don’t want to share something about your life, don’t.

If you are in the middle of something significant and profound, a shift or a transition in how you think, what you value or who you are, it's okay to keep it quiet. It’s a sacred time for you, and you aren’t ready to hold it up for other people’s judgement or comments. It’s OK to put up a boundary and say, “I’m not ready to talk about this now. I don’t know if I ever will be. I need space right now.”

Parker Palmer is a voice of wisdom on this topic. He wrote, “I’ve never felt obliged to share the whole of my brokenness in public. As a Jungian therapist once told me, “The soul needs its secrets.” Only when I’ve thoroughly integrated a hard experience into my sense of self can I tell my story in a way that makes safe space for the reader to reflect on his or her hard times.”

The truth is you don't need to talk about anything unless you are ready to talk about it. It's okay to tell someone you don't want to talk about something in your life. It's okay to have secrets. And it's okay to put yourself out there when you are ready. I love the intention of sharing your story to help other people reflect on their own lives. It's up to you. It's your life. It's your choice. You certainly don't need to post it on Instagram.

Trust yourself.

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