No matter how many people fill our lives, the reality is that we are our own constant companion. In our minds, conversations can last seconds, minutes and even hours in a single day. Over time, we become an expert at snatching those free moments to switch into our private thoughts. We bounce ideas with ‘the voice of reason’ and make conscious choices based on these talks. At times, the cerebral debate picks up momentum and becomes even more intrusive. Even when we play prosecutor and defense lawyer, we still manage to win the debate. We are unique, and yet so similar in our ability to justify our decisions and behavior.
There is no doubt that we all need what we want. We make choices to benefit and fulfill our needs. Certainly, there may be times when we sacrifice our primary needs for someone else, but generally we are still looking to gain something. Keeping the fine balance between autonomy and the fear of losing ourselves, by giving too much, may challenge any relationship.
We start becoming aware of ourselves from an early age, and our primary relationships help shape our sense of self. Feeling safe, secure and protected builds an early sense of trust. Growing up, in this type of environment, allow people to feel comfortable enough to open up and express themselves. This is where we first start practicing trust and honesty.
Of course, few childhoods remain unscathed from disappointing adults, and nothing remains ‘perfect’. Hopefully, our own personal experience has left us being able to look at people objectively and not so distrustfully. Unfortunately, there are those who have experienced such deep emotional pain that has resulted in a retreating within. The deeper the wound the more profound the self-preservation. Protecting self is learnt at an early age and usually stays throughout life.
Sayings like, ‘I didn’t want to hurt them’ or ‘they don’t need to know all the details’ is a way of deflecting from the instinct to protect one self. Whether it is interpreted as a lie or a secret, almost become irrelevant because ultimately there was a desire to mislead the person. No matter what the motivation is behind being disingenuous, the end result is always diminished trust.
The power of a secret for many people has enormous appeal. It goes back to early self-protection and an area of their life that they can control, and is ‘their own’. Some persons become so skillful that it translates into their professional life; which when revealed, has far more devastating consequences.
It is not uncommon for people to seek secret affairs in order to receive the energy and excitement lacking within their relationship or marriage. Secrets create a solution, a momentary way out from a trapped or lack luster relationship. The boost in energy propels someone to become his or her suppressed self. The movement between the two lives is then seen as the feasible solution without ‘rocking the boat’. Again, every action can be justified.
It is not uncommon for people who have grown up telling lies to get themselves out of any situation, to then have a problem with real intimacy. These are the very persons who have difficulties committing to one person. Getting close to one person requires exposure and vulnerability, not only to pain but tenderness. The shield, and pulling away protect oneself from people who could ultimately hurt us.
Being totally open and honest does not come naturally for many people. The idea that we all have the right to privacy makes drawing boundaries very confusing, but necessary for each couple. The solution for many is to come to an agreement over what is relevant and of importance to the relationship, and therefore not to be concealed. Once again, we see all paths lead back to honesty and effective communication.