There are many times in life where we wish to keep secrets or hold back from telling the truth. We think that we are protecting ourselves and we even falsely claim that we are trying to spare the other person’s feelings. What we are really doing is sparing ourselves from having to deal with the feelings we will experience if the other person doesn’t like what they learn about us. But we need to stop keeping secrets because they hold us back from being our true selves and they often prevent us from enjoying some of the best experiences possible.
Some examples of what I mean by keeping secrets:
And much more.
When you stop keeping secrets
Keeping secrets is not always about respecting somebody else’s confidentiality. If it is about that, then keeping the secret is what you should do because you do not have the right to share somebody else’s private information.What I am writing about here is keeping your own secrets.
The following are some of the key benefits you will experience when you stop keeping secrets:
1. Others open up
You may think that you are the only person who has ever done something wrong or made a mistake. You are not. Everybody is fallible. The fact that we all make mistakes is one of the most beautiful aspects of our humanity. When you acknowledge that you are not perfect and that others are not perfect, you realise that there is no reason not to tell the truth.
Nobody trusts somebody who acts like they never make a mistake. Feeling free to talk about your mistakes and what you have done wrong is a sign of honesty and openness. People will realise that they are not so likely to be judged by you and they will be more prepared to open up. This helps establish the foundations of trust.
2. We overvalue our mistakes
When I had had my first office job, I was new to that situation. I had never really been in an office before as I was a country boy who had done summer jobs in his Uncle’s factory. We had shops, farms and factories down the country; not offices. I had absolutely no idea how to behave in an office.
I look back on some of my behaviour in those days and it was very naïve and occasionally uncivilised. I wasn’t rude and I didn’t treat people badly but I have no doubt that at the same I stood out like a sore thumb. Occasionally, I remember a few of the things I did and I cringe but then I remember that that was nearly 20 years ago and the people whom I worked with will have gotten on with their lives; just as I have gotten on with mine.
It is a long time since I have met any of those people but I have no doubt that if I did meet them, I would not be judged by behaviour from 20 years ago. When I cringe, I am overvaluing the mistakes. When I talk about them with friends, I shed light upon them and realise that those mistakes are of no importance whatsoever.
3. You can demonstrate how you have learned
When I lived abroad, I had a friend who had previously done time in prison for drug dealing. He had moved on and was building a better life for himself. You might have thought that he would be reluctant to talk about this past but he wasn’t.
He realised that sharing his story, warts and all, could help others to turn their lives around. He helped people who had gotten themselves into a mess and he used the lessons he learned to help them avoid making the same mistakes. People didn’t look down on him for the mistakes he made. They admired him for the man he had become.
Stop keeping secrets, be yourself, open up to the world and; be happy!
4. Release stress and energy
As Jack Canfield says, keeping secrets requires a lot of energy. Whether you are trying to hide your feelings for someone or you are trying to hide the fact that you got fired from a previous job; it requires a great deal of energy to do so. And, it can be very stressful. The more you try to hide it; the more stressed you become at the thought of somebody finding out.
But when you share your secret, you really do lift a weight off your shoulders. You free up all that energy for better use and you release the stress that comes with keeping the secret. While there may, on occasion, be an initial bad reaction; things soon sort themselves out and you will feel free to move on with your life.
5. You can be yourself
If you are keeping secrets, you are pretending to be somebody you are not. You are desperately trying to gain the approval of others. The late Anthony De Mello said that approval was the most dangerous drug in the world and he was right. There is little that people won’t do to gain the approval of others and they often pay a heavy price for doing so.
You were not put on this Earth to be somebody else. As far as anyone can be certain, you only get one shot at this life so why waste it pretending to be somebody you are not. When you stop keeping secrets, you reveal who you really are and you show that you are proud of who you are. People can either take you or leave you as you are.
6. You deal in reality
Too often, the secret that you keep is that you are unhappy with something. Rather than speak up and attempt to change the situation, you keep it to yourself and try to push through. You then try to blame the other person for your prolonged suffering. But how can they be expected to resolve a problem when they don’t know about that problem.
If you are unhappy with a situation, you have a duty and an obligation to speak up and raise your concerns. If you don’t do so, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
To provide an example, there is a sport club in my locality which was robbed by its board for over 20 years. In that time, all the members of that club knew it was being robbed. In fact, it was a constant source of discussion in the area. But nobody was prepared to speak up.
Eventually after finally removing the board, the club fell short of money and had to go cap in hand to its national sporting federation for enough money to survive.
It’s easy to just blame the board who did the stealing but those who remained silent must take some responsibility for allowing the situation to go unchallenged for so long.
Learning to communicate effectively will help you to build honest, open relationships where you can stop keeping secrets. If you struggle to communciate effectively, How to Talk So Others Will Listen will get you on track.
Keeping secrets is very tempting. You may think that you are saving somebody else from pain or, you may think it is for the best. But keeping secrets is rarely beneficial. In most cases, the truth eventually comes out and when it does it can cause a lot more harm than if you had been truthful from the start. Speaking freely is the honest and open way to deal with situations. It releases stress and energy, builds bonds and allows you to solve the real problems. When you stop keeping secrets, everybody knows where they stand and they are more willing to be open and honest too. When you hide your secrets, you are pretending that the situation is different than what it really is but the real world is the only place where you can achieve true happiness and success. And that requires you to open up and stop keeping secrets.