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Keeping a secret

'Please don't tell this to anybody else' - it's frequent request to keep a secret. Usually, it is discovered that the secret is out! Now, you know what I am talking about. Why is it hard to keep a secret? Are secrets worth keeping? How and why?

Studies show that secrets are spilled out usually within an hour. It is said that women find it harder to resist spilling a secret than men. However, studies have also found men of this millennium to be competing with women on this issue.

Keeping a secret can be beneficial, especially for relationships. Keeping a secret can also be risky and dangerous. At the same time, spilling a secret can also be beneficial as well as dangerous. Quite often, people tend to spill the secrets unintentionally under a helplessness to curb the urge to let it go. Here is how it happens in four steps: (i) X confides a secret to Y. (ii) Y gives a thought to firmly keep the secret. (iii) Sometime later, Y  engages in casual entertaining gossip with people. (iv) Y spills the secret.

The secret of helplessness to keep a secret is explained in the theory of 'Thought Suppression' by Daniel Wegner, a psychologist from Harvard University through his work "White bears and other unwanted thoughts". Wegner puts that the secreter a secret, the tougher to keep. The virtue of something being a secret fuels the urge to think about it, and keep thinking about it until it is shared with at least ONE other person. So, those who spill the secrets, are more likely to do so in secret (in privacy).

It may not always be recommended to keep a secret. Studies of the American Psychological Association show that keeping a secret may unfavourably affect our lives. Assume a secret to be like a burden. Thus, greater the burden, worse the impact. Secrets have been found to negatively affect the cognitive abilities, enthusiasm and temperament.

Keeping a secret is not effortless, not easy and not at all natural. Lest, spilling the secret is rather so. To overcome the helpless urge to spill a secret one has to simply reverse those aforementioned four steps! Besides, one should watch for the following to deal with secrets: (i) Stay clear from discussions that lead towards the secret topic. (ii) Underplay the secret and just forget it! (iii) Simply share it - with wall, pillow, teddy bear or anything dumb enough! You will feel better.


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