These words bring a thrill and a special sense of comradery: “Ok, I’m going to tell you something, but you can’t tell anyone!” There is nothing more precious and heart-warming than being told a secret by someone. And you know that you’ve got a good friend if that secret is kept safe!
The weird thing about secrets though, is that usually they’re not that big of a deal, and are just something fun to think about. But secret-keepers and secret-tellers affect us on incredibly deep emotional levels – because there is no betrayal quite as bad as someone telling your secrets to someone else.
These days (and for a long time now), my lips are locked tighter than a bank vault, but unfortunately, until I was about 25, I couldn’t keep a secret to save my life. I always got around it by telling the secret to someone who had never met the other person, and was never likely to. So, if a person told me a secret in Michigan, I’d tell a friend in California, or whatever. I guess, along the way, I finally learned that when someone tells you a secret – that, at least in their mind, their telling you their secret is a supreme act of trust, and usually affection as well.
So, if you have a secret of someone else’s that you want to tell (and it’s not a secret like someone hurting someone else or committing a major crime – which of course you have to tell – at least to the authorities), remember that the secret you’re holding is more than just some whispered words – it’s an action that says that they trust you. Are you willing to betray someone’s trust just to selfishly share their secret?
For a long time, I was that kind of person.
I’ve been a great secret keeper for about 12 years now, and I think that is something to be proud of. Few words of someone else’s get past my inner wall anymore, whether they tell me it’s a secret or not – and I use my own self to deflect attention away from people gossiping about other people who’ve put their trust in me. I am proud of all the secrets I keep, and have been able to keep for a long time.
If you’re someone that is bad at keeping secrets – you know you need to stop. Whether your friend or family who told you their secret knows you told or not – it’s still an act of betrayal. And, if you’ve ever yourself been betrayed (and I’m sure you have…) – you know you can’t do that to someone else.
If you’re someone that holds on to too many secrets, I have two paths that I suggest.
1. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with secrets, I suggest doing what I do. Take what is essentially bothering you about what you’re holding on to, and think of a situation in your own life that is similar – even if only a tiny little bit of it is similar. Then, ask someone else if they ever had a situation like that, and how they’d dealt with it.
2. Pray a lot. It always seems to help me.
And if you’re thinking of telling a huge secret to someone else, and you’re wondering whether you can trust them or not – think about whether you’re ready to tell your secret or not. Because… once it’s told to someone else, there is always a much higher likelihod that your secret will come out in the open, whether you’re ready or not.
If you’re planning on having the secret come out sometime – anytime in some future date – then I think it’s ok to tell, but if not… just don’t do it.
The other thing you want to make sure of, is that the person you’re telling the secret to is trustworthy. Knowing whom to trust – and when to trust them – and with what – is just one of those skills you spend a lifetime developing.
Wishing you all the best of luck with all your secret dilemmas,