Let’s be honest…we love to know things that others don’t. Secrets are a fact of life. The problems occur when we forget that secrets are a trust issue. When someone tells us something in confidence, it’s because he or she trusts us enough to listen and keep our mouth shut. When we don’t, trust is lost. It’s important to distinguish the times when revealing information makes you a snitch, and when telling a secret (such as when a friend’s health and safety is at stake) might be the right thing to do.
A study of 3000 women in England found that four in ten women had trouble keeping a secret, no matter how personal or confidential the news was. And two thirds end up feeling guilty after spilling the beans.
Why do people keep secrets?
People may worry that if certain information is known, they will be judged, looked down upon or someone will use that information against them.
Is there a difference between a good secret and a bad secret?
Yes. A good secret is not harmful to you or anyone else. Examples would be keeping mum about an upcoming surprise party or a wrapped present.
A bad secret might concern a friend or family member who is in trouble and risking their health and safety.
How can you do the noble and trustworthy thing when keeping a piece of juicy information to yourself is so hard?
You’ll quickly get a reputation as a gossip monger if you start talking bad about others behind their back. If you get into this habit, chances are you are going to blurt out someone’s secrets.
Fight the urge to spill. Walk away, bite your lip, change the subject. Think of yourself as a loyal and trustworthy person. Tell a white lie if you have to.
Talk about the secret with the person who told it to you. Discussing it can often help quiet the urge to share it with others.
What if you blurt out a friend’s secret?
Apologize. No excuses. Nothing beats sincerity. Even if you’re being yelled at, try not to lose your temper. Take the blame, say you’re sorry and learn from the experience never to make the same mistake again.
Can keeping secrets be bad for you?
Yes. Keeping secrets can cut you off from others. If you have to keep a difficult secret for a long time, it can provoke anxiety and worry. Living with these emotions can lead to stress which can lead to stomach aches and headaches
Sometimes with secrets there are no easy answers. Part of growing up is making that hard decision to keep silent. But that hardship is important in helping us define who we are and what we believe in.