So here goes anyway--my secret... shame. Not guilt; shame. They are different. Guilt is the result of doing something that we perceive as bad. I feel guilty when I lie to someone. Shame is when we think we are bad--we the person, the core of our being. And I feel that at my core I am bad, unworthy, pitiful, dishonorable--well, you get it, the dang adjectives that ring true in this case are many.
Now, mind you, this is not what I think. What my mind tells me and what my emotions are roiling around are two different things. And I am not looking for support or sympathy. I am just looking to learn to be more vulnerable to what I feel at the deepest level. Because, as I have said here before, one of the principles that holds true across all the major faiths of the world is awareness--both of the inner world and the world around us. The problem is that awareness inevitably leads us to explore our dysfunction and failure and who in their right mind wants to muck around in that? Who wants to feel vulnerable?
The thing is, we all fail. We all have dysfunction. We all have shame, and every failure and dysfunction reinforces that shame--reinforces that we are bad, unworthy, pitiful--etc., etc., etc.
But here's the other thing, when we explore and expose these things, when we allow ourselves to unmask our vulnerability, we open ourselves to the deeper possibilities in our lives. Here's why: being vulnerable does not show our weakness, it shows our courage. Strength arises from the confidence to fail. In a sense, unless we are prepared to fail, we are also not prepared to succeed. And oddly enough, if we do not try, we almost automatically fail.
Risk taking requires of us a certain amount of faith: Faith that failure will spur us to find creative ways to solve a problem; faith that our awareness will help us understand how to better accomplish what we seek; and faith that our commitment to trying will ultimately lead us to some sort of success.
The last bit is that being vulnerable leads us to more confidence. To be affraid of who we are means that we will hold back not only that which we wish were better in ourselves, but also that which may truly have an impact on the world around us.
This, I think leads to an important maxim: the greatest faith we can have in this world is that which we have in ourselves.