If you are honest, truthful and transparent, people trust you. If people trust you, you have no grounds for fear, suspicion, or jealousy.

Dalai Lama

A person who is fully transparent has few secrets and tells no lies.

Submit your personal story or favorite illustration, quote, Bible verse, etc. that illustrates a specific virtue to [email protected], then click on the virtue of your choice on the Virtues page to see your story or the stories and illustrations of others.

June 16, 2021:

“We can patiently accept not being good. What we cannot bear is not being considered good, not appearing good.”        —St. Francis of Assisi

July 18, 2021

I was sitting at my keyboard, trying to think of a personal illustration to go with the virtue of “Transparency,” when all of a sudden a memory came to me! 

I was maybe 10 years old, give or take. My beloved Uncle Nick was spending a few days with our family as he often did when he had time off from driving Grehound Bus. Like many children that age, I had few if any “filters.” Uncle Nick had been married and divorced a couple of times, and I found that curious, I’m not sure I even knew anyone else who was divorced.

“Uncle Nick, how come you don’t stay married to one person (like my mom and dad do, I was probably thinking)? 

“Oh Artie (childhood nickname), you meet someone and you fall in love and get married, and at first it’s all sugar and spice, wine and roses. Then after a while, they find out that your feet stink and you fart in bed, and everything changes…”

Thank you for your transparency, Uncle Nick!

    —Art Nicklaus

February 2, 2022

The following is taken from an article by Oxford Club officer Nathan Hurd, who spells out the value of pursuing the virtue of Transparency so well:

“You’re only as sick as your secrets.” This idea originated in 12-step recovery circles like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. But it’s applicable to anyone, anywhere.

In life, we may experience something traumatic, spend time with someone who is abusive, or act out of fear and treat people in a way we feel ashamed of.

Maybe you didn’t follow through on an important promise you made and lied about the reason, fearing a blowback.

We often instinctively keep experiences like these to ourselves, because, well, we’re ashamed of them.

To the extent that we harbor these experiences…and they become secrets…our shame only grows. We may try to bury it or numb it. We may try to distract ourselves from it. We may try to counteract it. But none of that works. The shame sits down deep inside of us and never really goes away. Left untended over time, shame only deepens.

It makes us question our value. Or our relationships. Or it makes us act out in ways that aren’t consistent with our higher selves. It can even be exploited by others.

There is only one solution for healing shame (whether that shame is warranted or not.) And that is to find a safe place to share your secrets with someone you can trust to destroy the shame’s power. 

This can be a close friend, a relative, a therapist, a coach, a priest, a doctor…someone you can fully trust.

The core idea of “you’re only as sick as your secrets” is that most secrets are simply information we’re ashamed to share with the world, whether or not it was our fault and regardless of the circumstances.

For example, children of alcoholics often grow up in households full of secrecy. These secrets can turn into confusion and shame. The same thing can happen with victims of all kinds of abuse.

It can be just as true when we ourselves do something we’re not proud of; usually actions we have taken based on some form of fear. The phrase applies universally.

Again, these don’t have to be deep, dark secrets. They can be, but they can also often take the form of little white lies, embarrassments, or other small indiscretions.

Secrets, particularly ones rooted in shame, damage our self-worth. They can confuse us and prevent us from feeling whole and from living a happy, contented, fulfilled life. A rich life.

The longer you harbor a secret, the “sicker” you may become. And I don’t mean that something is wrong with you. It’s an inner pain that comes from shouldering the burden of an experience that produces shame.

I remember when I heard this phrase for the first time. I immediately had a flash of awareness. I thought to myself, wait…I don’t have to have any secrets? Of any kind? Ever?

And today, I don’t. But this understanding came slowly. It required effort and trust. And eventually, I realized that honest equals freedom. Secrets lose their power when they’re no longer secrets. It has been one of the most powerful lessons of my life.

I’ve come to judge great relationships as ones where I can be totally open and honest…with people who want the best for me no matter what. And I for them.

Is there anything you feel ashamed of? Any secrets that you feel burdened by? Maybe it’s a white lie you told. Maybe it’s something you’ve held onto for far too long. Just know that the shame you feel can be healed…only by opening the blinds and letting the light in.

Imagine what it would feel like to be free of a secret you’ve been holding onto. I magazine what it would feel like to be free from any feeling of shame. Depending on how significant it is or how long you’ve held onto this secret, use good judgment. Find someone safe to confide in, whether it’s a friend or a trained professional. 

Tell them you’ve been holding onto something and need to let it go. Ask for their willing ear. You don’t have to harbor secrets or shame any longer. Freedom, inner peace, and a richer, more fulfilling life await you on the other side.