The truth about secrets

Sad teen girl sitting on a windowsill
Photo: © Dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

The inner torment and fatigue to cook up story after story to cover the initial tale leads us to inadvertent slips that can have quite appalling results. Or we become so pressured and nervous like a simmering volcano, that we impulsively blurt it out in the hope for forgiveness and penance.

  • Did you always tell mom about your misbehaviour in school?
  • Were you wary of admitting a prank you played on a friend?
  • Did you admit that you sent the paper rocket across the class?
  • Were you vocal about how the cake vanished from the fridge?

These might appear trivial. But there could be non-trivial ones.

  • Like telling your friend that your father has an alcohol problem?
  • Saying that your parents might actually be heading for a divorce?
  • Telling parents that you smoked or did drugs, and now need help?
  • Admitting that you have feelings for someone of the same gender?

Why do we keep secrets?

Well, this is a rather personal question and we all might have reasons that are private to us. The most understandable one is — to protect ourselves. Or another very common one — people won’t understand. We worry about outcomes that might befall us if the secret was known. We are uneasy about what that would do to our reputation, name or respect, our position in the football team, music group, science team, or in general, in school, home or the neighbourhood. There can be so many reasons why we choose to hide the truth and feel more comfortable if people who matter to us didn’t know some aspect of our reality.

Secrets — Myths

  • Make us feel safe.
  • Are less effortful.
  • Are an easy way.
  • Preserve friendships.
  • Keep things going.
  • Prevent loneliness.
  • Make us feel strong.
  • Help stay connected.

Secrets — Facts

  • Are burdensome.
  • Take great effort.
  • Sap mental energy.
  • Plague relationships.
  • Use up resources.
  • Arouse anxiety.
  • Make us sheepish.
  • Cut us off from people.

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Dr Shefali Batra
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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra, Psychiatrist and Cognitive Therapist, is the Founder of Mindframes and Co-founder of InnerHour. She is available at