Unreasonable People & Lies

I love my “Psychology Today” magazine. There are always pieces that feel relevant to me and my life, and always pieces that are thought-provoking.

This past issue had a couple of pieces that prompted this post. One, on MLK, discussed MLK’s likely manic-depressive personality, which fueled his assertion that: “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” To me, this is another [lovely] way of saying that social justice marches forward because of people who are willing to push the edges of norms and disrupt dominant discourse. To the dominant group, someone who questions norms looks “maladjusted,” when really, they simply have a different perspective on the world. Their “adjustment” to life is different. And difference creates change.

The cover article was about how our lives can be drastically shaped by the lies that we keep. Written by a woman who was married, and stay married, to a closeted gay man during the 60s and 70s, it discussed how keeping a lie will mold our internal and external experiences with ourselves and others. I appreciated this particular passage:

“We all have the unique ability to narrate our experiences-to ourselves. We are constantly processing and shaping the information that comes to our brains from our bodies and our senses. We organize all that input into narratives, which form the backbone of our identity. Some of them are about the past, others are about the present, and we use that same technique to imagine the future. In this way we can massage the chaos of our lives and transform it into our stories. This continuous conversation, much of which is unconscious, allows us to eliminate dangerous options. It helps us imagine survival strategies and even make good risk-taking decisions. These narratives are not immutable-they change as our experiences change-but they are fundamental. You have to reassemble your identity in a way that accounts for the new information.”

I’ve thought about how keeping stripping more of a secret has shaped my identity. Has it made me more guarded or closed off? Has it made me jittery or hyper-vigilant or anxious? Has it given me space and room to explore myself without informing everyone around me about my experiences? Are there perhaps both pros and cons in keeping a secret? How has my secret impact J and his internal state and his relationships?

Do you have any secrets that have impacted your identity and sense of self? What has your experience been like?

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