Fencing with a Secret Keeper

Last week we talked about that voice in your head not speaking very nicely to you!  This week we are going to talk about the Secret Keepers and how they show their Confidence Deficiency.  While the Self-Saboteurs are usually quite lovable, the Secret Keepers are a little more prickly.  Nothing we can’t handle together, so let’s get to it!

Self-Saboteurs use their sword against themselves, Secret Keepers fence against others.  They are hell-bent on keeping their secrets, and will undermine any potential exposers.  They don’t want you to know that they have flaws.  They will lash out if you do anything to expose them.  These Secret Keepers will verbally attack you and are often blame-avoidant, defensive and tend to deflect negative attention onto others.

Life is viewed skeptically with an eye on the ulterior motive.  It’s difficult to want to help a Secret Keeper as they can cause a lot of stress in our lives, but these people have been hurt, so the idea of being vulnerable is more painful than any guilt they may feel when they hurt someone.  They can justify any action that hurts another by simply believing that person was going to eventually hurt them anyway.

As a coach, I can provide a safe place to feel vulnerable.   If you are a Secret Keeper, it’s important that you connect with someone you trust has no ulterior motives.  This could be a mentor, friend or coach.  I would recommend that you start by acknowledging to yourself, your “secrets”, ie: not smart enough, too sensitive, out of control, etc.  Then, list everything you can think of that “disproves” the claim. For instance, if one “secret” is that you don’t know as much about a topic as you’d like, list all the examples of times you did just fine, like the last project you pulled off, or helping a co-worker who knew even less, etc.

If your chain mail is being yanked by a Secret Keeper, I have a technique you can try.  Keep in mind that the more threatened this person is by you, the more time you’ll need before you’ll see a shift.  If you have felt their wrath, a good approach to try (after settling your own emotions) is to personally approach them and privately tell them how their action affected you.

Heather: “Hi SK, I’m hoping you can help me with something, do you have a minute?” 

SK: (defensive, but less so since you’re looking for help) “What’s up?” 

Heather: “Yesterday you made that comment about how I ‘always seem to have time to chat everybody up’, so maybe I could use some more to do.  Initially that really hurt me because I try to do my best and felt like you were calling me out in front of others, but then I thought maybe you were trying to help me.  Do you really believe that I don’t work as hard as everyone else?”

The key here is to cool their jets (by asking for their help), show your vulnerability (by showing how you perceived their comment, while being cautious of how much you share for your own protection.)  Following this up with the idea that perhaps they were trying to help you gives them an “out” for their behavior.  Calmly and sincerely asking if they really feel that way is where the rubber meets the road.  You have acted unexpectedly, likely confusing them.  Being confronted like this may cause them to back down and rephrase what they “meant” by their remark.  Regardless of their response, don’t get defensive.  Say you’ll have to give it some thought, and thank them for their feedback.  This approach doesn’t attack them.  The key is to get them to drop their guard bit by bit.

The problem with Confidence Deficiencies is that the sufferers (and they really do suffer) rely so heavily on external validation.  Because both types allow that negative chatter to continually play in their head, they don’t have the confidence within, so they seek it from others.  Unfortunately, these comments just go into the Ego Jar, which has no bottom, resulting in an insatiable need.

Whether a Self-Saboteur or Secret Keeper, these people just need a helping hand from us.  Being kind to the nice ones is easy.  Being kind to the not-so-nice ones is much harder.  Show some love and patience with others and remember we all have demons we are battling.  Use your sword to help someone fight their demon.  Be nice to yourself, talk nice to yourself and most of all love yourself!  I’d love your comments, but if you’re too busy lovin on you, that’s cool too!!


  1. I’m digging where these posts are going! Thanks April

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