The Dangers of Living with Secrets
Everyone has secrets. Though some willingly confide their secrets to others, many still prefer to keep them for as long as they live. It is safe to say that it is okay if you choose to hide your secrets from the rest of the world. It is your secret after all.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology defines secrecy as “not just as the moment of actively withholding information, but also having the intention to keep something secret from another person—even when that other person isn’t physically present”. In addition, the journal identified “38 common categories of secrets that people keep about themselves, ranging from infidelity and illegal behavior to pregnancy and planned surprises for others”.
Living with Secrets Affects Mental Health
It is only recently that psychologists found out that living with secrets can potentially affect your mental health. On average a person keeps 13 secrets at a time and at least five of which they have never confided or shared with anyone.
1. Living with secrets wanes your mental energy.
The number of secrets you wish to hide is irrelevant but the time and energy you spend thinking about these secrets are what can lead you to depression and anxiety. There are secrets that you cannot put out of your mind. The mental energy these secrets consume can take a serious toll on your overall health and wellness.
2. Secrets increase stress hormones.
A lot of people think that it is okay living with secrets as long as no one knows about them. As a matter of fact, keeping secrets to yourself will make you more susceptible to stress. Learning other people’s secrets can also be stressful because you believe that you are obligated to protect them. According to an article in Forbes, “every time you think about a deeply held secret, stress hormones such as cortisol can surge, impacting your memory, blood pressure, gastrointestinal tract and metabolism.”
3. Keeping secrets can affect relationships.
Trust and honesty are good foundations for a healthy relationship. When you commit yourself to someone, you expect that you know all about them. However, the fatigue and burden of keeping secrets from your partner can gradually endanger your relationship. You become suspicious of their actions because you fear that karma will get you. You are in doubt of their affection and kindness thinking that you do not deserve them.
4. Secrets make you sick.
Unknown to many, living with secrets does not only affect your mental health but your physical health as well. Aside from depression and anxiety, you may also lose sleep and appetite. You feel exhausted and drained because you want to conceal these secrets. If you allow these secrets to dominating your life, you will eventually get sick.
5. Living with deep secrets creates a false sense of reality.
Sometimes, your secrets blind you and make you lose focus on what is truly important in life. Because there is that fear of being exposed, you refuse to participate and connect with what is real. You do not allow yourself to enjoy or to be happy because you might slip that dark secret of yours. You are always uneasy about meeting people or living life to the fullest.
Holding on to those Secrets
Many feel that living with secrets and choosing to keep them is far better than disclosing them to someone. It may not be the smartest and healthiest thing to do but holding on to these secrets is safer and reassuring.
Keeping secrets is human nature and the most important thing to do is not to spend all your time thinking about them. If you have a deep, dark secret that you want to keep until your dying day but it is causing you mental stress you can always opt to talk to a trusted therapist or psychologist.
There is no best way to handle the burden and stress of living with secrets. Others feel that when a friend confides in them, they must safeguard their secret at all costs. Some have this nagging feeling that by knowing a friend’s secret, they always have the option to disclose it, especially if it is hurting someone.
Mindshift Psychological Services offer therapy and counseling sessions to those who are having a hard time living with secrets. Our topnotch therapists and psychologists offer you effective ways to handle secrecy without harming yourself. Talking with them about your fears and worries is one step closer to freeing yourself from the exhaustion of living with secrets.