by Neil Pasrisha, author of You Are Awesome
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
― Meister Eckhart
Do you know that clichéd Catholic confession chamber scene from the movies?
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” the mobster says, on bended knee, behind the metal lattice. “I put Two-Faced Tony in a vice at the deli and chopped him out of the family.”
I didn’t grow up Catholic, yet it always seemed interesting to me that confession was a religious practice.
I looked into this as part of my research for my new book on resilience You Are Awesome: How To Navigate Change, Wrestle With Failure, and Live an Intentional Life. I found it’s not just Catholicism! The act of confessing is an integral part of many world religions from Catholicism to Islam to Judaism to Mormonism to Buddhism.
Over the ages of our species coming into its own, across different geographies, different times, different backgrounds, we were somehow all wise enough to include a little emotional geyser of confession as part of how we lived and worshipped together.
Well, it seems to me if we can process and articulate a worry subconsciously swimming in the seas of our brains . . . we actually pull them out of our minds. We extricate them. We eradicate them. The worries get pulled out of the wet dirt below and suddenly sit like shrivelly little worms on the hot sidewalk in front of us where, under the hot glare of the day, we just know they won’t last.
The thing is today we’re living in an increasingly secular society. Many of us are living without a confession chamber. I think that’s why we’ve seen the rise of websites such as PostSecret, an incredible project where Frank Warren collects, curates, and posts anonymous artistic confessions created on postcards mailed to him. What’s this little confession project turned out? A nearly billion-hit website, six New York Times bestsellers and a top ranked TED Talk. Plus the postcard confessions themselves rove around galleries around the world and live at the Smithsonian.
We want to confess. We need to confess. We have to confess. We have a shared desire to pull out and process things we’re worrying about instead of letting them sit deep inside and fester.
Some fascinating research published in Science magazine by the neuroscientists Stefanie Brassen and her colleagues backs up how healing it can be to reveal. Their study, titled Don’t Look Back in Anger!: Responsiveness to Missed Chances in…