Why to we keep secrets? Of course there are far too many reasons because every situation in which we feel secrets are necessary are so vastly different. Parents keep the truth about Santa a secret because they want to bring joy to their children. Young lovers may hide their relationship from others to avoid parents trying to split them up. Teenagers hide all manners of questionable behavior to feel they are grown ups without being reminded that they aren’t quite ready for that kind of responsibility. Usually secrets are because we don’t want to face the truth or deal with the consequences of it.

However, secrets are like a splinter. At first it is just a small pain. We can choose to end it quickly and move on, or we can ignore it. It doesn’t feel too painful to start but over time it becomes infected and can cause a great deal of harm. Secrets seem to start with a small white lie of omission and snowball until the lies and deceit are so overwhelming we are buried by it. I remember my kids not wanting me to remove a splinter because they thought it would hurt, not realizing what I was saving them from. In my experience, to fess up and reveal whatever you are hiding always causes less pain overall. It also saves you from the psychological trauma of keeping the secret and the fear that you continue to carry that the truth will come to light. We always seem to underestimate how harmful to ourselves things can be.

“Contradictions lead to destruction. The amount of destruction is equal to the amount of contradiction.” Ayn Rand

Some secrets are like contradictions. You are purporting a truth but the reality is quite different. However, there are times to keep secrets. Cases can be made for children enjoying the mystical fantasies of the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy. It is part of their development to live in that world of make believe. Hiding a birthday party or planning a proposal is obviously something that is beneficial in the end. We buy Christmas presents for people and don’t tell them what is behind the wrapper because we want them to have the joy of anticipation. I think the damage of secrets is when we are attempting to avoid conflict. If it stems from cowardice or gaining advantage in a selfish manner it is wrong. Even when we keep a secret to protect someone else, rather than ourselves, we cheat people from the growth opportunity of learning that life isn’t always fair or easy. When secrets become lies we cross the line (see my post on Liar, Liar).

I’m currently caught in a family dilemma where the secret is not my own. One family member is hiding something from another that is painful. They aren’t keeping the secret to protect the other person, they are keeping the secret because they don’t want to deal with the conflict of having the secret come to light. I know this post is vague and philosophical rather than informative. It pains me greatly not to divulge the secret I’m referring to but it isn’t mine to share. The reason for my post is to ponder the harm that secrets can cause. Especially once other people know the secret and have to keep it on behalf of others. It creates division and distrust on all parties behalf and the rot of the unpulled splinter starts to infect whole families.

“Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.” Buddha

Live the truth, stand in the light, face the music. Be free.

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