We learn to keep secrets at an early age. Most people will get their cues about secrets and honesty from their parents or role models. If a child has been encouraged to keep secrets, or viewed their parents being secretive, they are bound to learn sneaky or concealing behaviors and believe them to be the norm.
Secrets are universal. Keeping secrets is part human nature, part cultural, and part learned dysfunctional behavior.
PostSecret is an entire website, and many books, that delves into the phenomenon of secrets and hidden events or thoughts. “PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.”
- From the PostSecret Website -
Some of the most terrifying things I’ve ever heard have started out with these sentences:“I’ve never told anyone this before…”
“I know you are going to find this hard to believe…”
“I don’t really know where to begin…”
I’ve had my share of guts spilled all over me. I've spilled mine over other people. It often isn’t pretty. Sometimes it can change your life. But sharing secrets is, more times than not, better in the long run than trying to keep them hidden. I admit to unpleasant, shameful secrets, which have all come to light or I have finally shared. Many of them, I am not proud of.
Almost everyone has shared, or had someone else share, a secret they would rather not have known about or wish they could forget. Wouldn’t life be so much easier and simpler if we didn’t have terrible and shameful things that we have either had to, or chose to, hide?Many people believe it is better to keep their secrets. They convince themselves they are protecting others, or themselves, from pain, hurt, humiliation, or scandal. And every day you can see examples in the headlines, or on television, of the terrible outcomes of that theory.
Some other secrets that people believe they can keep, but rarely do:
- Physical or mental illness
- Gambling or shopping addictions, or secret debts
- “Love children” or secret family members
- Criminal record
- Political scandal
- Addiction to pornography
- Internet addiction, to include internet “affairs” and inappropriate online relationships
- Identity theft
- Stolen valor
- Internet dating secrets
- Misrepresentation of credentials or degrees
- False persona
- Pyramid schemes or dicey investments