The real reason why you hide away

How to overcome the blocks that are keeping you in hiding

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. 

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Marianne Williamson tells us that, “ our “playing small” does not serve us or the world. She encourages us that in shining our light  “we are liberated from our own fear”, and that in doing so we “automatically liberate others”.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But if it was easy to come out of hiding, wouldn’t you have done it long ago?!!!

I hope in this short article to give you some insight into the real reason why you hideaway, and how to overcome the blocks that are keeping you from being seen.

Living in Hiding

For many years I lived in hiding. There were two Claire’s. There was the Claire I showed the world and then there was the “other Claire”. What the world saw was someone who appeared to be OK. Someone who did a pretty good job of pulling the wool over people’s eyes. But they wondered why they didn’t feel quite comfortable with me? Why they didn’t know quite what to say to me and why they kept their distance?

In fact, I didn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They all knew I was in hiding but they didn’t know how to get me out. Neither did I?

This is why receiving the call to come out of hiding, isn’t enough.

I had been telling myself for years that I should come out of my shell.

Living in Hiding

The Secret Agent

I didn’t know about the other Claire – THE SECRET AGENT.

The Secret Agent is a shadowy figure that remains permanently undercover but is always there. Watching every move that you or anyone else makes.

The Secret Agent is one of those undercover agents that governments pay to keep an eye on their interests, ready to report back should they spot any activity that threatens national security.

The Secret Agent is constantly negotiating on your behalf. You probably set up a pact with the Secret Agent long ago, and even though many things have changed since then, the Secret Agent is still operating on those old instructions.

The Secret Agent is constantly negotiating on your behalf.

You will know the Secret Agent when there’s an opportunity to shine or to show yourself, that you instinctively shrink back.

For many people, this is a very physical thing. They can feel the whole body contracting, often in the solar plexus area – as if you’ve just been given a punch. Sometimes this can feel as if your whole skin shrinks, so there’s an awful lot less room left in your body. Everything is packed close in.

This can be particularly powerful if you are an introvert, or fear the spotlight, or have had traumatic experiences that caused you to shut down. You have probably experienced this many times.

Maybe you are like many people, you are so used to repressing how you feel, that you don’t even notice that you’re doing it. You’re so numb that you don’t know how shut-down you really are.

This is another way in which you know that The Secret Agent is at work. The Secret Agent much prefers it when things remain hidden and unknown – deep in the realms of unconsciousness. That way he knows he is doing his job.


My Secret Agent was constantly doing deals on my behalf. So whilst I knew I needed to come out of my shell, my Secret Agent had conditions.

These are the kind of conditions that the Secret Agent can have:

I want to come out of hiding but I don’t want to be one of those awful, egotistical people who are always bragging about themselves, and so pleased with themselves and who everyone else thinks they’re embarrassing.

I want to have lots of money but I don’t want to be one of those people who doesn’t know who their friends are.

I want to be successful but I don’t want to be like XXX.

 LOOK  at some of your goals/aspirations and the conditions that your Secret Agent puts on them.

I want to be/do……….. but I don’t want to ….. if it means that I ……

Note them down, and know that this is the voice of your Secret Agent. Get to know your Secret Agent’s voice, so you can distinguish it from your own.

My Secret Agent is Freaking Out!

I have just finished writing a book  – and my Secret Agent is literally freaking out.  Whilst there’s a part of me that is very excited about the book, there’s another part that is feeling very exposed. What will happen when the book is published? To the Secret Agent, this sounds like a very threatening situation.

In the past, that part has been very good at sabotaging opportunities that have come my way.

A very good example of this was a play reading I had when I was a playwright. There was a part of me that of course wanted the play reading to be an enormous success and for everyone to be raving about the play. The next West End sensation! I knew the play was very good and so did my agent.

Being Protective

But there was another part that felt very protective of my play, the Secret Agent. It had been such a profound inner journey writing the play, and whilst I was keen to show the play to the world, the Secret Agent part of me was not so sure that was a good idea. What would happen if the play was a major success? Would I be Claire anymore? The Secret Agent was going to make sure nothing like that happened.

There was a very good turnout for this reading. Far better than expected. It seemed the most negative and critical people from miles around had turned up for my play. And they had a field day tearing my play to shreds. I was gobsmacked and totally traumatised. Why were they saying these terrible things? Had they even listened to it? Why did they fail to see what the play was really all about?

A few weeks later, when I went to another play reading. The play was vastly inferior to mine, and people were positively kind, failing to pick up the most glaringly obvious faults in the play. I realised what had been going on. My Secret Agent had drawn all those critical people from miles around to attend my play reading so that the real “light” of my play stayed protected and hidden from view. It wasn’t just my play that was protected, it was me too.

If this had happened once, I would have thought it grossly unfair. But in fact, similar things have happened on many other occasions.

My Secret Agent is a master saboteur, keeping me from losing myself and keeping my identity firmly intact. This is deep unconscious programming that is powerful in its intensity, for which there is very little rhyme or reason.

Once you have understood how your Secret Agent operates, you can begin to unravel these powerful unconscious forces.

Try this exercise which will help you to uncover some of the forces that keep you in hiding, and see what begins to shift.

Exercise – Coming Out of Hiding

Think of an area in your life where you would like to be seen or where you instinctively know you are hiding. This could be an area of your career, relationships, family, or social life.

Close your eyes and allow yourself to connect with this area of your life. Notice the part of you that wants to be seen and the part of you that wants to hideaway.

Example. I notice there’s a part of me that’s really excited about the book, and but then I feel the part of me that’s hiding – and that’s really quite powerful. It feels like a scrunching in my solar plexus. As I go deeper into that I feel it’s as if I’m holding my arms up, as if I’m pushing the world away

Focus deeper on the part of you that’s hiding. If you can physicalise this, this is all the better. How does your body want to express this? What emotions are you noticing are there, as you do this?

Example. As I focus on the part of me that’s pushing the world away. I feel how much force there is in me. I feel my mouth turning into a growl – as if I was an animal protecting something. I was expecting there to be fear there, but there also seems to be a lot of anger there. I feel very fierce.

Be a little curious as to what this is all about.

Example. Hmmm, this is a bit of a surprise. I see I’m still quite angry about all the times my work has not been understood and I’m still carrying this around with me. Therefore no wonder I want and need to protect myself from these experiences.

Turn your attention to your Secret Agent- what is he/she doing or saying.

Example: My Secret Agent is a bit like someone in an action movie. He’s hiding behind a pillar and he’s pointing a gun, and he knows that there are enemies all around him. But I’m rather pleased he’s more like the “good guy” in films who wins out in the end. He’s saying “I’m going to get them.” But then I wonder if that’s a good thing? Does that mean my Secret Agent is indestructible and I’m never going to get rid of him!

Ask yourself what that’s all about?

Example: I notice I’m quite pleased that my Secret Agent is a good guy, and clever and rather inscrutable. There’s a positive side to that. I rather like this Secret Agent. I think he’s telling that it’s as well to be prepared and not be naive. There are people out there who get a kick out of decimating other people. I’ve had enough experience of these people, to be wise to their games. This is why I need the Secret Agent!

Let the light shine on your Secret Agent and see what happens. Ask what is the higher purpose of your Secret Agent and how they can support you in coming out of hiding.

Example: As the light shines on my secret agent, I realise they are becoming more and more like a hero and that I could really do with a Secret Agent like this. I feel less alone, less exposed. It means that I can go forward with a lot more confidence – and maybe if that old sabotage pattern should turn up, my Secret Agent could take a pot shot at it.

Make a note of what you have learned from this exploration and what next steps you are willing to take. What is the best way you can support yourself in coming out of hiding.

Example. This exercise was hugely powerful for me. The next day I discovered I felt very different about my book. I feel the presence of my Secret Agent and I’m really glad to have him on my side. It feels like we are a really good team and as a result, I feel less exposed and more prepared for what is to come. But I feel too it will be important to seek out some extra help and support with the part of me that sabotages my opportunities!

I hope this exercise was valuable for you and has given you some insight of what is  going on for you when you instinctively hide away – and how you might resolve that.

© Claire Schrader

Want to stop hiding away? Join one of my upcoming courses to help you transform the behaviours and habits that are keeping you in hiding.

11 thoughts on “The real reason why you hide away”

  1. dear claire…
    how do i really share or elaborate the worded response – ‘awesome’ – that escaped my mouth, as i read this?

    how do i really tell you what the ‘awesome’ springs from?

    how does one describe this ‘physicality’ that you so wonderfully talk about?

    i was thinking this thoughts as i thought of how to tell you how touched i was…. and it seemed so important to me that i share that…

    this is what came up – not to explain, but to take you to a place of feeling something similar to what i felt:
    i felt like a christmas tree that was all ablaze with bright lights – not light-bulbs, but more like intensely bright flash-bulbs popping here and there constantly…

    your article lighted me up… like a christmas tree that was dynamically lighted.


    thank you. (only the tone of the voice would convey what lies within and beneath this word.)


    1. Dear Biren
      I was totally delighted to wake up this morning to approve your comment and am deeply touched by your amazing words. You convey very well that feeling of being lit up. That is what I hope to convey – and what I experienced when I first came in touch with it – I suppose it was similar to an enlightenment experience, although I didn’t know what that was then. And it is what I see when people come to my groups. Thank you for reaching out – and there are many more articles like this one on my blog Do feel free to peruse at your pleasure. I think you will also like the Nice one.

      warmest wishes Claire

  2. Dear Claire,

    I want to thank you. I am truly upset at the moment, you artical has helped me in so many more ways then i can tell you. I am upset however because i took the time to write a sincer post for you, to express just what your artical had help me see and what conclusion i had come to after reading this. However, I had the most terrible blunder, pressing the wrong button i was sent to a diffrent web page before I could post it, quicking hitting the return button I discoverred that what I had written was lost. I am finding it impossible to write it again, what I wrote has been lost to me and after writing it the depth of emotion i had trasfered into it had left me. In short, your artical helped me see the “secret agent” I had hidden deep in my mind, insted of what you saw however, I saw a frightened little child to afraid to come out a dark room because this room was the sole place he felt truly safe. After a long thought I had come to the proper solution to my problem. Your artical gave me a face to look at when i envision this child, it gave me modivation. It showed me what I truly already knew, but was too afraid to face. And i now know what i must do to hopeful pull this child out of the dark room he has been hiding in for so long. I feel that thank you is no where near strong enough to express my gratitude for what you have done for me. I can think of no other way though. So, from the bottem of my heart I say thank you.


  3. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt and moving response, and am sorry that you lost your other work – but maybe you needed to lose it. I see it more as a release – it disappeared into the dark of cyberspace never to be found again. And that can be freeing. I feel you have communicated in essence what you realised.
    There would have been a time when my secret agent would have been pretty similar to yours. And what you describe is experienced by so many people that I work with.
    I am glad that the article supported you at an important time – and that it is put you on such a positive track. All power to you. It is hard to do this journey alone so do reach out.

    my very warmest wishes


  4. First, thank you very much you gave me the inspiration, maybe you lost it, but maybe this does not mean anything, you may have more insights, life continues to grow.

  5. Hi Claire, this might be of interest? The whole concept works on the idea that our subselves are trying to help and protect us, but often in very illogical ways that can do more harm than good!

    1. Thanks David – this is very interesting and great to see this all laid out. I often work with the subselves in my work with people – which come through as the inner theatre of “characters” that live within all of us. Thanks for this info. Claire

  6. Not sure how much and how should I be thankful to you. This is a really an eye opener for me. The agent was never revealed to me. I thought it was myself and it is the self who is always right. But now I got the agent and I will make him a friend. Thanks a lot Claire.

    1. Hi John Glad the article was helpful – and I wish you the very best with making your secret agent – a really good friend. warmest wishes Claire

  7. ”The real reason why we hide away”

    I’m 52yrs and all my life I’ve been hiding away and never knew why?

    Reading your news letter, I started curling up and protecting myself, but I have always been curious about finding answers so I couldn’t stop reading. Then with every line I was reading I was seeing my life unfold before me. I’ve always wondered why I hid behind closed doors. Or why in a crowded room I blended into the background. A few years ago I started wearing brightly coloured shirts, skirts, dresses but even then I managed to hide. I was wearing bright pinks, with white, reds, fluro colours knowing I wanted to stand out but, I didn’t want to be seen.

    I didn’t want to be heard either, in fear of being scutinised, and laughed at. I cant tell you how many times in my life time I have even ran away from people including my family, and stayed away because I didn’t want them to be asking where I have been or done. Yet I never did anything shameful. Though I was still scared of people judging me for living my life.

    People have always tried to tell me what to do, and how to live my life. I have been busy, leaving friends behind, good friends, best friends and keeping away from my family.

    I remember one day, my dad said something I have never forgotten. ” We just don’t know what you do, you don’t tell anybody where your going, or how you have been. You don’t call and when we ask how you have been you say ‘good’. You say nothing, we just want to know how your doing.

    At the time I didn’t realize what he was talking about. I thought I had told them everything. But then I remember everyone talking and spectulating behind my back about me. Yet I can tell you for sure, not one person picked up the phone and rang to ask.

    My family never calls, when mum was ok, she did and we could talk for ages about what I would only give her. I never told her about anything succnificant. I didn’t want to burden anyone.

    Even though I just read you news letter, let me tell you what happen before I was half way through it, I started crying. I started understanding why, I hide myself away. I started understanding what is taking me so long to push my self to do this course I’m doing. I understand why I sent my two young boys to Ireland to live with there dad, and that broke my heart. It still does. I have missed out on so much. God I thought I was the most horrible mother in the world. God what have I done. God what have I done. Please tell me what have I done.

    God what have I done. I have 4 children, I hid away from, 3 grandchildren who want to know me, friends i use to have and don’t socialise with. I was only protecting myself from being hurt and it hurts worse now knowing what i done.

    I hated people telling me i was no good, I hated people telling, no one will ever love me. I hated being controlled,, I hated being abused, I hated my brother for telling me i was so fat and ugly that no one will ever love me. I hate being lonely, i hate not feeling loved, i hate my life, i hate my hiding away. but i just don’t know how to escape this gaol i have put myself in.I hate knowing i have a secret agent (whoes me), stopping me from being

    1. Claire Schrader

      Dear Joanne

      My deepest apologies – I don’t know why I didn’t see you had written so bravely about your painful situation – usually I get an alert but can’t remember seeing anything . I was so moved by your post. It is no wonder that you feel a need to hide. It is a psychological protective mechanism and has enabled you to survive. It is so very hard to overcome such difficult beginnings but it sounds like you are making a start. I hope you find a way of moving forward and finding the help you need. I’ve seen people with just as difficult experiences as you have had, create a happier way of being. I wish you the very best.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top