Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups who do not have the “need to know”, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals. That which is kept hidden is known as the secret.
Secrets are like vampires. They captivate us with their forbidden mystery and promises of excitement. Yet once inside us, they become toxic; compelling us to infect others, who in turn want nothing more than to be bitten. It’s a vicious cycle that ensures nothing remains secret forever.
The only way to protect yourself from their destructive energies is to simply turn the other way when offered one. To resist the lure of the forbidden fruit. But sometimes, something just happens to you – or you just happen to witness something – that forces one upon you; like an uninvited guest that arrives without warning, and leaves only under great duress.
It’s not that stressful to hide something from people, but it is stressful to think about it all the time.
Everyone has secrets, but what causes someone to think about them over and over again? People who feel shame about a secret, as opposed to guilt, are more likely to be consumed by thoughts of what they are hiding,
“Almost everyone keeps secrets, and they may be harmful to our well-being, our relationships and our health”.
People should not be so hard on themselves when thinking about their secrets.
“If the secret feels burdensome, try not to take it personally but recognize instead that it reflects on your behavior, and you can change that,”
We all have secrets. Some we share, some we don’t.
Most people carry secrets – both their own and other’s. And carrying secrets can be difficult, because we often want to share them with someone. This enhances the risk of spreading the secrets.
But there is still a paradox to revealing a secret. If revealed, then somebody knows, and we don’t really know what the consequences will be. Maybe that’s why we sometimes tell secrets to a neutral person.
It might be because it is a neutral zone, and it doesn’t really matter if that other person judges us or not. The chance that they will use our secret against us also seems reasonably small, and as we are not related as such, there is no notable consequence if they decide to pass our secret on.
So, keeping or revealing a secret is psychologically complex. But by revealing it, we can take a lot of pressure away from ourselves and increase our psychological well-being and mental capacity achieved within the social context. I wonder if these positive effects can help explain why we reveal our secrets to a neutral person or a stranger–
There are others who have special secrets they would not like strangers, or even friends, to know about: having served time in jail, having developed a serious illness, or having failed at a business venture. There are reasons for this reticence. Different reasons for different subjects.
Ever have someone share a piece of information in confidence and ask you not to tell it to anyone else–then you spilled the beans anyway? Of course you did! You’re human. Some of us are better at keeping secrets than others. In order to understand why–and what makes the temptation to break the silence on others’ secrets run so high–you first need to understand the psychology of secrecy itself.
In the end, it’s important to recognize that not all secrets are bad.
In many cases, these secrets get more damaging the longer they remain hidden–which can put your integrity at risk anyway. You may not choose to be the one to reveal the secret, but you can make it clear that you aren’t willing to lie explicitly on someone else’s behalf.
Let context decide which secrets you keep, otherwise your psychology may end up deciding for you.