Self-Disclosure, Self-Indulgence, & Deep Self-Introspection

Turn on Oprah or any of the morning shows or any of the interview television shows and you’re likely to hear someone, famous or not, disclosing information about themselves that, until this era, would have been kept secret. While there can be some healing in such disclosures, too often telling stories on ourselves has become a substitute for true deep, self-introspection.

I can, for example, tell you that I’m a recovered alcoholic, which is true. Like many who have left alcohol behind I began my recovery in 12 Step rooms telling my drunk-a-log. There was great relief in that telling and as others also shared their stories,  I felt less alone, and less guilty than I had before. But that was only the beginning of my healing.

Gradually I began to use all the 12 Steps, including those that asked me to look deeply into myself and begin to uncover and let go of what Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book calls “…character defects…” It’s been a gradual process and I’ve come to recognize there’s no end point or perfection. I apparently will continue to grow emotionally until I die. Mostly that pleases me.

I got to thinking about the difference between self-disclosure and deep introspection at a Day of Mindfulness led by Larry Ward and Peggy Rowe at the World Beat Center in San Diego. He mentioned that there is a huge difference between self-disclosure and deep introspection and commented that in the U.S., we’re generally better at the former.

So what is the difference?

In my mind there is first the willingness to tell our story (self-disclosure) and then, after the story has been told, maybe multiple times, there is the willingness to get off that story and move on, staying alert for habits of consciousness that don’t serve us.

There came a point when I realized I had a real tendency to get stuck in my story, to keep repeating it over and over again maybe with slight variations. I wanted to stay in that story and not risk letting it go. My story had become, at least in part, my identity. It took first recognizing I was stuck and then getting willing to let go for me to move on in life in a real and expansive way. I came to recognize that the ever-repeating of my story was self-indulgence.

Oh, it wasn’t and isn’t as straight forward as I’m making this sound here, but the components are accurate.

Letting go of story allows me to look every more deeply into myself to find my real fears which drive my hidden motivations. Accepting those pieces, those layers and letting them go allows me to move forward.

Does this make sense to you? Have you found you need to let go of story?

Love and blessings,

Anne Wayman: When Grandmother Speaks

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura February 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

What a wonderful, deep posting…..I’m so happy to have found you here. Please sign me up.

annew February 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Laura, glad you’re here… I’ll sign you up and you’ll have to confirm.

Gisele Vincent-Page February 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I’ve been wondering lately what was wrong with me. I haven’t been very present in activities, in my prayers and meditations, not in my poetry or even the book I’m working on. And I found you, and yes I am very tired of my story.

annew February 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Story is so important and then it’s equally important, I think, to let it go.

PJ Pittman February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm


What an honor to read such self-disclosure. I am trying to find away to get my writings of self-disclosure and depth out there to people without it costing me money. People keep telling about the difference I can make. My love for writing and pursuit of healing and self expression await the guidance of someone who is willing to help. If I could support myself doing what I do naturaly and love to do, this is my dream. Can you help me?

annew March 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

PJ, maybe. Blogging is actually pretty inexpensive. I host with 1and1 and wordpress is free ( Of course, there’s a lot of work getting an audience. I’m not sure you can do it totally for free, but if you want to email me we can chat about it a bit.

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