A Fun Way to Recognize and End Negative Emotions: The "No One Knows This" Experience
by Brian Vaszily, Founder of IntenseExperiences.com
Here is a little “Ah ha!” experience you can have to reveal a lot of surprising things about yourself to yourself … to help you recognize hidden fear, shame, anger and other negative emotions that may be blocking you from achieving your
biggest goals and being even happier.
To keep you entertained – I consider that a part of my job ;) – I am going to reveal something about myself at the end of this piece that I’ve never told anyone.
Don’t worry, I am not asking you to return the gesture. All you have to do is…
Go somewhere peaceful -- a place where you are least likely to be impacted by work, family, to-do lists, or any other influences -- such as your bedroom, backyard, a park, or the washroom (my refuge of choice.)
Bring a pen and paper, your journal, a laptop computer, or anything you can record your insights on.
Take three slow and deep breaths to exhale any stress and other negative emotions that like hiding in our chests and to instead inhale peace and clarity.
Then -- for part one of this experience -- ask yourself: What is it about you that absolutely no one else knows?
Contemplate this question deeply and jot down or record whatever answers come to you. Just note them briefly for now, to stay focused on getting whatever answers bubble up out of you versus getting trapped in long explanations.
Beware of Self-Limitation via Self-Categorization
Now, when I’ve done this with individuals I’ve noticed that many people tend to immediately place themselves in one of two camps: either they exclaim something like, “Oh wow, the list of things no one else knows about me would be endless!”
Or they say, “I’m more of an open book. There’s nothing that at least one other person doesn’t know about me.”
But be careful about labeling yourself as anything and therefore stifling your boundlessness and stunting your growth!
If you tend toward the former – you believe the list of things no one else knows about you would be nearly endless – delve into the experience but establish the maximum time you will spend writing down all the answers that come to you. Fifteen to twenty minutes is generally good, as it will provide a wide snapshot for part two below.
If you tend toward the latter – you believe you’re an open book and there’s nothing you haven’t shared with someone – delve into the experience anyway, contemplating deeply and keeping an open mind to allow yourself the possibility that there are some things that know one else knows.
If it helps, here are a few areas in which to consider the question:
• “SHAMEFUL” things you did as a child, such as filling the neighbor girl’s empty shoes out on her porch with mud. Or that you did as an adult, such as filling the neighbor woman’s empty shoes out on her porch with mud.
• “STRANGE” or “shameful” fears you may have, such as walking out of washrooms with toilet paper on your foot.
• CRIMES or misdemeanors you committed, recently or in a younger day, such as stuffing candy bars down your pants and walking out of stores.
• GROSS habits you may have, such as … such as whatever one you are thinking of right now that you do. And you know you do. ;)
• CRUEL or “shameful” wishes you have had, such as those brief (or not so brief?) instances of wishing bosses or people even closer to you dead.
• “WEIRD” or “shameful” sexual desires, such as … well go Google “sex” and virtually any noun and you’ll see. Or don’t.
Those are just a few examples. The point is, even if you tend to compartmentalize yourself as “an open book,” the more you contemplate it, the more you will recognize there is plenty no one else knows about you.
Part II: Pick Your Brain for Whyyyyyyyyy
When you’ve made your list of things no one else knows about you – within a time limit if your list feels like it could keep going – contemplate each item on your “No One Knows This About Me” list with this question in mind:
Why haven’t you or don’t you share that fact with anyone? Why does no one know that about you?
And REMEMBER, “Because no one needs to know that!” is not a real answer.
That’s like a child answering “Because!” in response to a question: there is an emotion in control, trying to block the way to awareness, versus being understanding of and therefore in control of your emotion … and therefore in control of your consequential actions.
So whether the item on your list is something seemingly substantial – someone touching you inappropriately in your youth – or seemingly not so substantial – you pick your nose when you think no one is watching – delve into understanding WHY you don’t share that with anyone.
“Because picking one’s nose is unsanitary!”
“And people will think I’m gross if they find out!”
“And people will avoid me or talk about me.”
So you’ve got some insecurities, noble of you to admit it. But you probably are not going to stop picking on the sly, so what does that say about you?
“Well, that I’m a bit lazy maybe.”
And do you think many if not most others out there, even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the Pope and Dalaia Llama, pick their nose on the sly too? And what does that say about them?
“Yeah, I bet they do, too. And I guess it says we’re all merely human.”
Some KEY Benefits … and THE Confession
Making yourself aware of how much you hold inside you and why will likely prompt you to realize the benefit in sharing SOME of these things with others to gain their perspective, their understanding, and to allow them to feel closer to you.
Indeed, many people don’t understand why their spouses, significant others and good friends sometimes proclaim that they “wish they were closer,” or that they “wish they would let them in more.” If you ever hear this from someone that matters to you, you may be surprised via this little experience to learn all that you really do withhold … and therefore WHY they may be stating that.
Or you may be surprised to learn all that they don’t realize they don’t even know about you. (And you can therefore extrapolate that there is probably a LOT you don’t know too about those you think you do … but perhaps should know.)
Of course, this experience is not a recommendation to share EVERYTHING that makes your “No One Knows This About Me” list. There probably is no cause for you to go around confessing to your siblings and friends and work that you are a nose-picker.Again, though, the deep reasons why you withhold such things from anyone and what that tells you about yourself – and perhaps about people and being
human in general – can be invaluable.
“Know thyself,” as Socrates' famous saying goes, in order to achieve whatever really matters in life and be who you really are. And this is a mighty little experience to lead you significantly closer to that knowledge.
For you to know more about me, on the other hand, is likely not one of your big goals. But I DID promise to reveal something about myself that I have never told anyone here at the end of this piece, so here it is…
(Ssssshh. Don't tell Marcy!)
I was the one who put that mud in Marcy’s empty shoes outside her back porch door when she and I were seven or eight years old. I admit it. But James helped me!
What’s more – here’s the darkest part about this confession to you -- I still can’t help but smirk when I remember her unknowingly slipping her feet into those shoes, staring down at them in disbelief, and crying “Moooooooommmmy!”
I mean c’mon, it WAS funny.
Bad, bad little boy.
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