When Keeping a Secret Can Hurt You

Try these insights to avoid harm.

9/20/2021 4:01:00 PM

Do you have a secret gnawing away inside you? Here's how to keep it without harming yourself or others.

Try these insights to avoid harm.

What Kinds of Secrets Do People Keep?Secrecy is the intentional holding back of personal information from one or more other persons. Keeping secrets can often be harmful in the long run, both physically and psychologically. However, according to Columbia University psychologist Michael Slepian and University of Chicago psychologist Alex Koch, it’s not the withholding of information from others that hurts us. Instead, it’s the fact that we tend to ruminate on our secrets.

Vaccines, masks? Japan puzzling over sudden virus success Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian Are Engaged: ‘Forever’ Afghan Taliban's victory boosts Pakistan's radicals

Some secrets we keep don’t hurt us, since they’re nobody else’s business anyway. But others weigh heavy on our minds, and these are the ones that harm us over time. To understand why this is the case, Slepian and Koch conducted a series of studies.Previous research has revealed that the secrets people commonly keep can be grouped into 36 basic categories. These range from infidelity to criminal behavior, from romantic desires to job dissatisfaction, and from having had a

traumaticexperience to pursuing an unusual hobby.What’s unclear from this list is why some secrets are harmful while others are not. In the first study, the researchers asked participants to arrange the 36 common secrets into as many groups as they wished. By analyzing the groupings that people made, the researchers were able to identify three dimensions that describe each secret: headtopics.com

Immorality:Some secrets involve behaviors that people, including the secret-holder, would consider to be immoral. Examples of secrets that are high on the immoral dimension include harming another person, theft, or other illegal acts. Other secrets have no particular moral component to them, such as ambitions, a hobby, or feelings of discontent at work.

Connectedness:People generally keep the details of their intimate relationships secret. Examples of secrets high on the relational dimension are romantic desire, infidelity, and sexual behaviors in general. In contrast, other secrets have little to do with our relationships, such as problems at school or work, as well as religious or political beliefs.

Insight:In our working life, we often have to keep certain information confidential. We clearly understand why we keep these secrets. In other words, we have insight into them. Conversely, we often have little insight into the reasons for our marital issues or health problems, so these are rated low on the insight dimension.

In further studies, Slepian and Koch discovered that they can predict which secrets will cause harm by considering how each ranks on the three dimensions. This is because each of the dimensions has a particular emotional experience that is associated with it. headtopics.com

J&J recipients should 'feel good' about booster recommendation: Fauci 'It's going to be within our capability' to prevent another coronavirus surge, Fauci says Ex-Spy Behind Salacious Trump Dossier Has Damning Theory About Alleged Pee Tape

Why Are Some Secrets So Harmful?Secrets can be psychologically damaging because the secret-holder has no opportunity to discuss their contents with other people. When we have problems, it helps to share them with others who can provide us with insight on how to deal with them. But when it comes to secrets that are high on the immorality dimension, we feel

shameand are reluctant to share them, often for good reason.However, secrets high on the other two dimensions are less likely to lead to psychological harm. For instance, secrets high on the connectedness dimension reassure us that we have valuable social or intimate relationships. Thus, if you have a secret lover, thoughts of this intimate connection are certainly mood-boosting, even if you can’t share them with other people.

Likewise, secrets high on the insight dimension evoke a sense of competence. For example, knowing that you have been entrusted with secret information at work reassures you that you are a capable and trustworthy person, and this insight is empowering.

Of course, a secret can be high on two or even all three dimensions at the same time. For instance, a secret about an affair can be high on both immorality and connectedness. Thus, the secret-holder can feel both shame attheir spouse and the thrill of being intimately connected with another human being at the same time. headtopics.com

How Do You Keep a Secret without Hurting Yourself or Others?Noting that secrecy mainly hurts the secret holder because they ruminate about it, Slepian and Koch proposed that gaining insight into the reason why the secret is being kept could help alleviate psychological distress. To this end, they devised a simple framing exercise, which they tested on 300 participants.

For each secret that they held, the participants were asked to consider the following three statements, which are associated with the three dimensions of secrets:There is no harm in having this secret. (Immorality)This secret protects someone I know. (Connectedness)

Sam Fender Blasts to No. 1 In U.K. With 'Seventeen Going Under' What to know about the escalating tensions between China and Taiwan Jussie Smollett Finally Heading to Trial Over Alleged Chicago Attack

I have good insight into this secret. (Insight)Those who engaged in this framing exercise on a daily basis reported less rumination about their secret and generally better mood over the following week. More generally speaking, this result suggests that having clarity about the reason for keeping a secret can reduce the psychological harm that comes from ruminating about it.

We all have personal information that we prefer not to share with other people. While we keep some secrets out of shame, others can empower us. As long as we clearly understand the reason for keeping the secret, we can keep ourselves from falling into the harmful spiral of thinking about it over and over again.

ReferencesSlepian, M. L. & Koch, A. (2021). Identifying the dimensions of secrets to reduce their harms.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120 Read more: Psychology Today »

Man builds rotating house so his wife has better views - CNN Video

Vojin Kusic from Srbac in Bosnia-Herzegovina says his wife was undecided about the view she wanted to see from their window, so he came up with a solution - a rotating house.

How about when y'all are feeding intelligence and you expect me to relay said information with no idea if there's any truth to it.

Ex-Algerian president Bouteflika, ousted amid protests, dies at 84Fmr. Algerian President Bouteflika, who was ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after 2 decades in power, has died at age 84, state television announces.

Check the attitude. There are more reasons than ever to try canned winesThe pandemic — and a need to be outside — have spurred sales of canned wines. Plus, it's just classy. I don’t agree with buying cans from shops and drinking out of can -especially during pandemic-put it in fridge and pour into a glass 🥃

Caroline Styne's canned wine picksStyne is the co-owner and wine director of the Lucques Group of restaurants and is the wine director of Hollywood Bowl Food & Wine.

When it comes to canned wine, these sisters love to break the rulesRobin and Andréa McBride are co-founders of McBride Sisters Collection, the largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S.

43 Tomato Sauce Recipes for All Your Pasta-Adjacent NeedsWhether you're looking for ways to doctor up canned tomatoes or use summer's ripest fruits to top pasta, fish, chicken, and more, your new favorite tomato sauce recipe is here. 😋

Mooners, Misbehavior and Mobbed-Up Actors: The Sopranos Tell AllOn what would've been James Gandolfini's 60th birthday, spend some time with the legend in our 2009 'Sopranos' cover story One of the best shows ever made sepinwall Hoah. HOAH! What about the J6 protests ? We want more reporting on that. You only have 2 articles on