July 20, 2020

How our Secrets—Big & Small—are Ruining our Relationships.

Please don’t tell her, but I still don’t know her name.

I’ve been bringing Woody to the same dog park for 13 years, and I’ve seen this woman almost every day. She says, “Hi Steve!” and I say, “Heeey…there!”

I know her dog’s name (which I won’t reveal for fear of exposing my secret), and I’m sure that once upon a time she told me hers. But I’ll be damned if I remember it!

And now, it’s too late to ask. Way too embarrassing.

(Please tell me I’m not alone! I know you’ve had this same experience…right?)

Here’s the thing: when I don’t remember someone’s name, I’m never as comfortable with that person. It’s like I have a secret, and it colors my entire interaction with them.

So, I started wondering, if something as fundamentally harmless as secretly not knowing a name can erode the quality of an interaction—and presumably a relationship—what happens when there are more significant things we’re holding back?

Does our undelivered communication affect our relationships? Does it cause us to feel uncomfortable in situations that aren’t inherently awkward? And, does it block our capacity to thrive?

Interesting questions, right?

Because, if we’re holding on to resentment, judgment, blame, anger, or fear around someone, that relationship can never rise above our invisible ceiling for it. Nor will we ever experience fun, creativity, or love in that person’s presence.

In fact, an argument can be made that the ceiling we’ve created for them will impact every area of our life—not just our relationship with that one person.

And here’s the kicker: they know something’s up. They feel it.

They may not know why, but they’ll sense our lack of presence, and it will impact the success of our interaction with them. If they’re a prospect, good luck making the sale. If they’re a spouse, good luck trying to create physical intimacy. If they’re a friend, good luck having that be the case much longer.

For me, presence is the highest form of living. I need to be focused on the here and now, open-minded, and capable of channeling loving energy to everyone I encounter. If my head is filled with secrets, no matter how mundane, I’m haunted by the wall I’ve created and it feels suffocating.

Clearly I’m not the model of perfection in this area. Just ask what’s-her-name!

But I know that I’m paying a price when I let myself get away with clinging to my secrets. I need to fix what’s in the way or come clean about what’s on my mind with the person I’m ripping off by withholding.

So, by the time you read this, I’m going to do my research and learn her name—although not by asking her. I don’t want to look like an idiot!

What about you? Any secrets to report? Get ’em off your chest.

Confession is good for the soul.


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Steve Taubman  |  Contribution: 935

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