Secrecy can be a form of coveting or hoarding, or it can be a healthy expression of boundaries.
I am secretive concerning my finances. For the most part, I choose to give out limited information. Those in trusted financial positions in my business know of the revenue I receive from the courses I teach. They do not, however, know of my retirement plan and how much is invested there. My financial advisor knows all about my retirement plan: the type of portfolio I possess as well as my retirement goals. Similarly, my accountant has the figures on my annual income and my bank learns about my net income over the last few years whenever I take out a car loan. My wife and I each are aware of our full f+inancial picture. To our knowledge, nobody else knows our complete financial picture, which may well be a naive assumption in these days of information overload, where anyone seems to be able to have access to personal and private information.
I have consciously chosen to be secretive in the handling of my finances. This is not so unusual since many people I know employ a certain element of discretion with regards to their own finances. Few of my friends voluntarily ask me how much I am earning, and I would not think to ask the same of my friends. This is a voluntary form of secrecy.
Secrecy is an important facet of my work with clients. I guarantee confidentiality. I assure my clients, “What is said between us will never go outside of these walls.” Everything my clients and I talk about remains between ourselves. I am voluntarily using secrecy as a tool to create a level of trust between us. I would expect the same from my doctor, accountant, and any friend or family member I may have entrusted with personal information.
If I am shamed I will go into hiding. I may not want to go into hiding, but given the circumstances, it may be one of the few ways to protect myself.
How might I be shamed? If I were the subject of abusive behaviour I would be shamed. I would be shamed if I was bullied, on the other end of sexually inappropriateness, yelled at in ways that were humiliating, controlled in times when other people’s needs were consistently more important than my own.
Trauma divides the emotional system. Emotional division is created when some behavioral parts are withdrawn from their functional roles, while others step into functional roles. (Read more about Trauma) (Read more about Parts).
Emotional division does not mean disintegration. In fact, division means the emotional system is made to feel stronger. This does not ensure that it is stronger. Stronger in this sense means it is fortified to withstand the possibility of abuse or trauma occurring again. Strengthening the system means shoring up its defenses and dealing with its troublemakers. It means moving into a state of impending war. (Read more about Defenses).
When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor the armed forces, indeed the nation itself, became more alerted to the possibility of being attacked again. The American-Japanese were interned in prison camps. The same occurred in Britain during the Second World War: every town had a siren to warn citizens of impending air attacks, in beach communities the population were trained to keep watchful eyes on the sea for signs of a German invasion, they were alerted to the possibility of unusual behaviour in people in case someone may be an enemy spy. The defenses were heightened, made more efficient and effective. And many Germans residing in Britain at that time were restricted in their movements.
Trauma induces division in the emotional system in the same way it creates division in a traumatized society. Trauma, whether emotional or societal, initiates the buoying up of defenses and the withdrawal or imprisonment of those sections of the community that are believed to have either caused the trauma, contributed to it, or have the potential to influence like-trauma occurring again in the future.
If we were to have interviewed those Americans who at the time agreed with the decision to intern the Japanese population within their own country, they are unlikely to say that the authorities responsible put the Japanese-Americans into camps because they were ashamed of them. If questioned, they would have likely said it was being done for the security of their country in a time of war. The Japanese-American citizens, however, on the other end of the decision, sitting behind the barbed wired fences guarded by armed soldiers, will feel shamed.
Shame is born out of distrust. The distrust those people were subject to caused them to feel the rest of the American population was ashamed of them. There is a strong argument to say this was the truth, that the American people were ashamed of their Japanese counterparts. Imagine, sitting in a prison camp or in any form of incarceration for a number of years under these conditions. It would be hard to not begin feeling that there was something essentially wrong with you.
Shame then induces secrecy, one in which we may choose, consciously or unconsciously, to hide ourselves, or certain parts of ourselves or personalities, with the hope and intention of preventing future trauma.
These are involuntary secrets: those we may feel the need to create in order to protect ourselves from the perceived effects of future trauma.
To understand the origins of shame, low self-esteem and self-confidence click on this link.
Tune in Next Friday and read about an involuntary secret that became very personal.
You have just read an excerpt from Pietro Abela’s forthcoming book, A Return to Consciousness
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