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Tell Your Secrets to a Stranger

A certain percentage of folks just can’t imagine doing therapy. Some have misconceptions about what it entails. Others find the idea of sharing their feelings with someone paid to listen too impersonal. The objection I hear most often is, “What good will it do? It won’t change anything.”

“Anything” in this context usually means other people or the past. In fact, I’d dearly love to have a dollar for every person whose told me, “You can’t change the past.” To this, I eloquently respond, “No shit.” Here’s the problem: If the past is haunting or otherwise limiting you today, then it’s not over.

“It’s not over ’til we get it right.” – Starship

Inner conflicts demand resolution. It’s that simple. If you think you’ll get there alone or by “figuring it out”, you’re kidding yourself. I’m not saying you need therapy. I’m saying you need someone who gives a damn and is willing to be brutally honest with you. Two heads aren’t just better than one, they’re a million times better than one.

It looks different when you take it out of the dark recesses of your heart and show it to someone else. If you’ve ever really opened up to the person sitting next to you on a long flight, then you might know something about this. For some of us, it’s easier to be intimate knowing that we won’t have to face our confidant again.

In lieu of a counselor, lots of folks pour their hearts out to bartenders, hair stylists, or massage therapists. If we’re lucky, the person we pick has a solid mix of compassion and common sense. They offer their perspective, which is free of shame, and thus looks very different than our own. If we are open and receptive to their truth, we’re given the keys to unlock our shackles.

My friends in AA taught me the adage, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” If all else fails, I point folks toward the brilliant idea hatched by Frank Warren, creator of This site offers folks the chance to share their secrets creatively and anonymously. It also allows each of us to see that we are not alone, that others have struggled and suffered similarly.

Put it under the category of “whatever works.” Anything that sets us free is worth pursuing. It saddens me that an awful lot of us carry pain and shame throughout our lifetimes because we just don’t know how to let it go. It’s simple:

“Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased.” – Spider Robinson

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