When to keep silent.

As honest as we might want to be, there are times we must remain silent. Keeping a secret even when it means we will live tormented by it. We have to learn to live with it somehow, hoping that in time it will become easier.

In the A.A. 12 Step program, there is a very wise 9th step that reads: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Same goes with the information you disclose that will only cause damage and hurt.

We are human, and although this excuse may be used by some to get away with plenty, some of us don’t use it as a way to make our actions acceptable or excusable. When we do use it, we are deeply sorry, and try to make ourselves feel somewhat better in order to live with our dishonourable act that weighs so heavily on our conscience.

We easily believe we are immune to indulging in certain behaviours. We think we know our moral standards and believe we can foresee how we would act if certain circumstances were to arise. But we are often caught by surprise by our actions. Mainly because we might not know ourselves well enough, and in the face of certain events we are clueless.

If a boat starts to sink, no matter how trained you are to cope in that situation, you might surprise yourself by jumping off board first, ahead of everyone else. When our fight- or-flight response is activated there is no knowing how you will react. True that you can train your brain, but not always to the extent you’d like.

We run into many sinking boats in life and it’s hard to be ready. Our amygdala stores information which we are unaware of, that will lead us to often act unconsciously. 

I did just that. I Jumped head-first without weighing in the situation, and I now have to humbly stick to step 9 and probably die with my secret. Because my reaction was not the ideal one and some people would be hurt if I disclosed my actions.

Although I’m deeply ashamed of what I did, I have to forgive myself, try to learn the lesson now that I have the first-hand experience, and if my amygdala is friendly enough, it will help me avoid getting in such trouble in the future.

It has nothing to do with regret, though. How can I regret something I had no experience with? I did suffer the consequences and have to move on. I was foolish in other people’s eyes, to mine, I was naive.

We have to keep silent sometimes. We make mistakes and yes, we are human. You won’t forget what you did, but you must be gentle with yourself too. Forgive yourself and wait patiently until time erases the pain, or lessens it and makes it more bearable.

Life is too short to condemn yourself forever. Surely you will make-up for that “peccadillo,” in time. Life seems to set us up so we have a chance to make amends with those we’ve wronged without having to spill the beans.

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