Honesty is the best policy: Why keeping secrets is bad for your health

There’s a saying that secrets make you fat. And while that saying isn’t necessarily true, there is definitely a harmful and sickening component to keeping secrets. It’s hard not to share when you’re given a piece of juicy information. Personally, my first instinct is to tell everything to my friends because I’m practically incapable of keeping it all to myself. But there are times when secrets are important.

That being said, when you’re let in on a secret, it then becomes your strict duty not to spill the metaphorical beans before it becomes public knowledge.

However, according to an article in Psychology Today, there are three key things that not keeping secrets will do: reduce your guilt, preventing people from getting hurt by learning the secret from someone else, and reduce the number of your offenses.

On top of that, keeping secrets has been proven to negatively impact the way your brain functions, states an article published by Forbes. Holding onto potentially toxic information can cause the parts of the brain responsible for emotional responses (the cingulate cortex) to get overstressed. We are genetically wired to tell the truth, so instead of moving on to do important things — such as learning — the cortex will just lock secrets up inside and cause problematic stress. That stress then leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to a boat-load of other problems that can have a devastating impact on your life.

If you lay all your problems out on the table, chances are that you’re going to start feeling a lot better about yourself. You won’t have to be anxious and live in fear that your secret will get out, and it will take away the stress of feeling obligated to tell everyone.

Once you start getting things out in the open, it’s probably safe to say you’ll be telling people to keep their mouths shut before everything goes public. In comes the select group of people who are in on the secret and are sworn not to tell. At this point, you and your secrets becomes more vulnerable than ever.

Keeping secrets and leaving people in the dark opens up the possibility for others to find out and be hurt — especially if the information has something to do with them. Then there’s just more anxiety involved for everyone.

After you get rid of secrets altogether, there are very few people left that you could offend. That’s important, because the last thing you want to do is start more drama than what you can handle.

The worst thing about keeping a secret is the fear that generally accompanies it. With that fear constantly nagging at you, the likelihood that you start catastrophizing is astronomical. The ‘what ifs’ start to consume you and chances are you start drowning in worst case scenarios that you can’t stop thinking up.

That’s when it’s important to rationalize. It’s a hard, yet crucial, thing to do.

In a way, keeping secrets is like a horrible form of therapy. You find someone to confide in and spill everything and hope for confidentiality. The end result is that you have someone to help share the load and maybe help you work through the situation while also being terrified that others will find out about the problem.

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it could involve you or someone else seeking help.

You’re always taking a risk when keeping secrets, because things can get really messy and it can happen fast.

If you want open communication, having everyone on the same page is incredibly important, otherwise you’ll all be dancing around the truth and trying not to hurt people.

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