Keeping Secrets Can Affect Your Psychological Well-Being

Keeping secrets affects our psychological well-being

Have you ever kept a secret to the point of feeling guilty or ashamed of what you’re holding on to? Every one of us has kept something close to the vest at one time or another, but there can be adverse consequences that result from doing so.

We’re Only as Sick as Our Secrets

According to Dr. Michael L. Slepian, “Almost everyone keeps secrets, and they may be harmful to our well-being, our relationships and our health.”

Slepian conducted a study which found that keeping a secret can be a great burden for some, and marked by feelings of shame and guilt which interfere in everyday living.

In the study, 1,000 individuals were asked if keeping secrets led to guilt or shame, and about the number of times that they ruminate on secrets each day.

According to Slepian, “We examined shame and guilt, the two most highly studied self-conscious emotions. Unlike basic emotions, such as anger and fear, which refer to something outside of oneself, shame and guilt center on the self.”

He found that individuals who felt a sense of shame about their secrets thought about them significantly more than those who felt guilty, or those who did not feel either emotion.

Slepian concluded that keeping a secret about one’s prior traumatic experiences, mental health or discontent about their appearance, felt greater levels of shame. Greater levels of guilt were reported by those who kept a secret about lying or betraying a trust.

The study determined that while some secrets are fairly mundane and harmless, more serious secrets can be an extreme burden to carry. In many cases, holding on to something instead of talking about it can result in negative feelings which ultimately harm your sense of well-being.

Finding Empowerment Through Truth

What is the best thing to do if you find yourself in a similar situation? According to experts, negative feelings such as guilt and shame should be seen as an opportunity to seek help and learn tools that can introduce positive change into your life.

Recovery is possible—recover your unique, purposeful, sober life by reaching out to the dedicated experts at Cumberland Heights.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease. For over 50 years we have carefully provided the highest quality of care for adults, adolescents and families who suffer from, or are affected by this devastating disease.

Our nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center is located on a peaceful, pastoral 177-acre campus on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. We provide a continuum of services through two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes.

At Cumberland Heights, we always put the patient first, and value the importance of family participation in the recovery process. Take the first step toward healing by calling us at (866) 899-5231 today.