Can you keep a secret?


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Can you keep a secret?

Harbouring secrets can not only cause emotional stress but physical burden too, finds Lisa Antao
Got a secret, Can you keep it? Swear this one you'll save, Better lock it in your pocket,Taking this one to the grave, If I show you then I know you won't tell what I said, 'Cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead... These are the lyrics of the popular title track of titled, Secret of the American TV show Pretty Little Liars. This teenage thriller series explores the lives of four friends who share secrets pertaining to the death of their friend. With the passage of time, one can see the number of secrets that they stumble upon and keep to themselves add to their misery. According to a recent study, the emotional burden of carrying a secret can take a physical toll on a person. We spoke to experts to find out how does this happen.

Everybody has secrets. Period. While some people excel at keeping secrets, many find it difficult to show whether it's their own or somebody else's and this is especially for individuals in relationships. Why does this happen? Clinical psychologist Dr Kanan Khatau Chikhal explains, "It depends on how a secret is perceived. For eg. a doctor /lawyer keeps secrets professionally so for them its a matter of fact. But in other cases, if one has information about someone but personally, one is keen to share it, is when the problem starts because it starts affecting one in the form of a burden."
Couples counsellor Shreya Poddar says that the most common secret that partners in a relationship tend to keep is that of infidelity. "Other secrets include financial infidelity, past secrets, which they have from before meeting their partner/spouse which could either lead to rejection, embarassment or fear of losing them. If there is lack of trust in a relationship that leads to not sharing personal details. Also if they think their partner is a loudmouth."

And how does the burden of keeping secrets affect one physically? Poddar says that when people who are used to keeping secrets have to hold back it becomes very difficult for them as their anxiety and stress levels increase incredibly. Keeping secrets often prevents people from dealing with the problem at hand. It leads to increased stress, anxiety, and it often makes people think about the issue (event or topic) more frequently. Also, keeping secrets can make things seem more important than they really are.

So how does one relieve his/herself from the burden of secrets? Dr Kanan says, "Emotional freedom technique is the best tool to deal with guilt or burden feelings. Breathing techniques to clear the mind and becoming aware of the intention of your keeping a secret." Poddar suggests, "I usually ask these clients to simply write down the secret, even if no one ever reads it, makes people feel better. Writing down a secret is cathartic - it reduces stress and anxiety."

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