Recently I was able to attend a weekend event/workshop for men. It was amazing in every way and I have to say it was life changing. One of the life changing parts was what I learned about Transparency.
We tend to be a very non transparent society. We don't know how to be open and transparent with each other. I think women tend to be more so in their relationships, but men for the most part don't get it. We have certain images to protect and to be transparent would destroy the image we want others to think we are.
Most of us like to be tuff and strong, or at least put off that image. We want everyone to think we have it together and we are invincible. We give off macho energy and strut and beat our chests to prove we are men.
What I loved about the weekend experience was to be with a group of men that were for the most part macho men, but went through a process of learning how to be transparent. It was so amazing to see the change that took place in each of us as we learned to be more open and honest, transparent and kind.
I left wishing that life could be more like that. I left wishing that men could be more open with each other and more honest, leaving behind the walls that our society dictates we have.
I am the first to admit, I have those walls built up around me and hide behind the guise of being a strong man that can handle life, when in truth, I have weaknesses and shortcomings that I hide and pray no one finds out about.
What would it be like if we could be open with others and share freely the struggles we are having without worrying about being shunned or shamed by others.
We are so quick to judge and we are even quicker to hide behind our walls and images of perfection.
Recently I did an exercise with a group of men. It proved to be a very educational event to say the least. I asked each man in the group to first share something that they felt shame over that had happened in the past year. It was interesting. Each man including myself had no problem coming up with something that we felt shame for. Each had the opportunity to share. Some were hard to hear, but the interesting thing was as each talked there was no feeling of judgement or shame. After each had shared I asked how everyone felt. Particularly in regards to how each felt about what the other persons that had shared. It was unanimous that there was an increase of love and compassion. It was affirming to hear that others suffered and carried shame for things they had done and that they each had struggles and hardships, most were not the same, but each had struggles just the same. It was amazing to see the out pouring of love and understanding we all felt towards each other.
Next I asked them to share two things they loved about themselves. Interesting was the fact that it was a lot harder to find something good to share compared to how easy it was to find shame. And it was more difficult to share. We are so used to being shamed and defining who we are by our weaknesses that we find it difficult to express our strengths. Every man in the group actually struggled to express and think of good things they loved about themselves. I was so amazed at the entire experience. It taught me so much about how important it is to see and validate our own personal strengths and to express in others the good we see in them.
So, first and foremost I learned that given the chance most men admire transparency and the ability to share openly what is really going on in their own personal lives. Second and even more important is the fact that we define who we are by our faults and not our strengths. Can you imagine how much better life would be if we learned to love others and ourselves regardless of weaknesses and focused more on strengths. I think we would be better men all around in every way. Can you imagine how cool it would be if we could be transparent with each other and really share what is going on in our lives.
Unfortunately we live in a society were appearance is more important than transparency. Shame has more value then positive validation. We have been programed that perfection is the goal, forcing us to hide behind our walls of supposedly goodness when in reality each person has something they feel shame about and would benefit from sharing in an open, accepting, and safe place.
How wonderful life would be if we spent as much time lifting others as we do in shaming. Looking for the positive and really, really, accepting people on the all the good they have and not the small often unimportant things we and they live in shame over.
What can one person do to change the world. Ok, maybe not change the world, but maybe the life of someone who is struggling. I think by learning to be transparent and openly sharing with others our personal struggles, letting others see that they are not alone in the journey would be a great step in changing our culture. I also think that spending time really focusing on the strengths of others and taking the time to share what we see and feel would be one of the most powerful tools we use in combating the ever debilitating power of shame.
One person can make a difference, one person can change the course of another. We can choose transparency or walls of perfection, shame or validation of good. As we choose transparency and validation not only to we change and help and lift others, but in the process we are changed, helped, and lifted.
I am making the conscious effort in my life to be more transparent in all my relationships. Opening up even at the risk of being shamed. I am also committed to validate the good in those around me. Taking the time to really see who they are and what they are about. Each one of us has issues of shame, but even more important each one of us has so many good things that in the long run out weigh the shame we might feel.
Success to you in your own personal journey discovering the good you are and the good you can give by being transparent and validating to those around you.