The Public, the Private and the Secret

Tribute to Bales Buddies that helps children with autism and their families

Flynn walked calmly among the children, allow them to touch and stroke him. He is a therapeutic dog, providing company and sensory comfort for these children in school. Despite the excitement generated by the happy, occasionally shrieking kids, he maintained his calm and energy. He saw his handler observing calmly from the side. He knew that he was in public performing his job he was trained to do and displayed an exemplary performance.

In the evenings, beside the fireplace by the crackling wood, his favourite game with his guardian was to suddenly bark and roll over wanting to be tickled on the belly. Barking without warning was not something he was trained or allowed to do in school with the children. However, his guardian did not mind and loved wrestling with him after the tickle, a game which Flynn thoroughly enjoyed. After all, this is his private time with his loved one.

When he is on his own, Flynn would wander behind the great sycamore tree in the garden and dig a hole there to bury his bone and occasionally a toy. No one knows about this, not even his guardian. He never shows his guardian the hole. It is his secret in his world.

We lead three lives. The first is our public life. It is what we do in public. The moment you walk out of your house, how you act and speak takes on the ‘public’ mode. Some learn how to bite their tongues, practise self-restraint and be (or act) professional. Others may put on a mask or a persona that they want others to see and think of what they are like. Maybe they appear to be more happy, serious, effective or nonchalant than they actually are. There are more ‘guidelines’ they give themselves on what they can or should do. Conversely, also on what they cannot or should not do. Some personality traits are kept hidden, others are falsely amplified. To use graphology (handwriting analysis) as a metaphor, it is like your signature. A signature is a single piece of writing everyone has, no matter how little writing you do. It appears on important documents like contracts, wills, cheques, and personal letters. If there is only one piece of writing the world sees of you, it is your signature. It is like a passport photo you show to the world. Your writing in public.

The second is our private life. That is when we are with our loved ones, close family, or simply, our inner circle. In that life, we can be more relaxed, not as pretentious, and ‘be ourselves’. It is the behaviour we exhibit behind closed doors. You no longer try to upkeep the character you display in public, knowing that it can be very tiring, energy-consuming, and not sustainable. You let your guard down, knowing you are in a safe place with trusted individuals. You are accepted for ‘who you are’. There is no need to prove anything. You wear what is comfy and look as you want to look. The people (or pets!) you have around you have seen you in your various forms including when you just woke up, without make-up, when you are sad or happy, succeeded or failed.  Here, rules to behave are not as stringent as the outside. Using graphology as a metaphor again, it is the writing you use for your shopping list. It does not matter if no one else can read it as long as you can!

The last life we lead is our secret life. It is the life led in your head, in your thoughts. If the public life was closely regulated and the personal life was where the rules are relaxed and you are in a safe environment, the secret life is where there are no rules nor no boundaries. It is where your mind and thoughts in how you behave, think, and speak can really run wild. It is where your vivid imagination takes over, where you are free to dream and think of whatever you want. You can fantasize beyond your wildest dreams, behaving in a way without consequence, and live a life that no one would ever know. It is also the place where you feel that many thoughts you have can never be shown or expressed to the world. Have you heard someone say, “You seriously do not what to know what is going on in my head”? Perhaps you have said it yourself on multiple occasions. I know I have! There is no metaphor in graphology for the secret life as it is writing never shown to the outside world.

What is interesting that everyone leads these three lives. We know that. Everyone you speak to knows that. However, it is also likely many feel that they are unique and no one else would understand them. Isn’t it interesting that everyone can feel their situation is unique (which by definition, makes it not unique)? This is not referring to the individual lives for we do have unique lives shaped by genetics and the environment. It is referring to the concept of the three lives. We can live the three lives separately for our entire existence. It is not uncommon to hear different narratives of the same person depending on the source, whether it was from a work colleague or a family member. Living three different lives is usual, normal, and commonplace.

A version of success has been defined as being able to be who you are. Imagine if you can truly be who you are all the time. Imagine if you were living one life and there was no need to put on different masks between your private and public lives. Imagine realizing your wildest dreams and fantasies. Imagine if your imagination becomes reality, where you have manifested your dreams into reality and has shifted from the intangible form to living it completely, not just in your head. It may not be pretty, exposing all your thoughts in your head with no filter. Well, it depends on what sort of thoughts you have in the first place! However, let’s pretend you have really filtered past the frivolous dreams and fantasies and have carved out your Fundamental Truth and discovered your Authentic Self. What if you can live your Authentic Self in all three lives? How would you feel? How you treat yourself mentally (where no one can see or hear) is how you treat your loved ones and also the world.

Let’s consider for a moment you could live one life, your life with no pretenses, restrictions, or rules. You simply live by your principles, accepting, respecting, and embracing your Authentic Self, living your Fundamental Truth. There would be no tripping over on what to say to whom, and when under what circumstances. You just simply are.

Flynn does not know the difference. I am certainly not there yet. What about you? Are you living your secret life in secret or would you want to manifest your Fundamental Truth?

‘Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.’ – Albert Camus

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: