There is an old adage in the world of therapy and treatment, the adage is “Secrets Keep You Sick.” While I don’t personally affiliate myself or my thinking with terms like ‘sick’, I do find that secrets in fact keep individuals stuck. Stuck in unhealthy relationships, stuck in unhappiness, and stuck in frustration.I remember working with a client in the Eastern United states back in 2003. He came to counseling asking for help with his struggles for depression. We began therapy ferreting through his past and gleaning a mutual understanding of his thinking and behavior over the recent years. I remember speaking with him session after session with a clear but also nebulous impression that something was missing. I remember asking him about his past history and him telling me much of it but feeling like parts of it were not shared and thus I was struggling to put together the puzzle with him. Therapy is not a science of figuring out parts and simply plugging in variables to equations. Therapy and counseling is a interplay between client and therapist in an attempt to generate solutions, find meaning, and engage in and find peace in ones life in the present moment and time. I remember feeling that there was some difficulty and anxiety in his sexual functioning but he denied any such difficulty. Following his refusal that that was an issue we moved on to other issues he did want to discuss.In time and per my guidance he did in fact tell me of his quiet struggle with his sexual issues. I remember specifically asking him as to why he did not share them with me during our initial sessions some months prior. His response was that he wanted to ensure he could trust me and feel that he could work through the issues. He then went on to tell me of his secret(s) and how he was living in fear that others would know them. I came to find that he kept his thoughts and behaviors so secret that he began to fool himself. He buried the secrets so deep that even when in a trusting relationship with me he struggled to discuss and acknowledge that he was lying to himself in addition to me, the one trying to help him. There is a an outcome or consequence to being honest with yourself. The outcome is the fact that once he began to verbalize it he had to admit that everything was no longer ok in his own mind. He had buried the secret and knew it was there but also was able to justify and rationalize his behavior in a way that kept him stuck. His stuckness was in part because he didn’t really let any new information into his mind and heart. He was to preoccupied keeping his secret and ensuring that others do not come to find out. Secret keeping fuels shame, the sense of I-am-a-bad-me. Allowing the perspectives and support of others in can help you rid the secret and it’s power over you. I have found in working with scores and scores of clients that secrets are like a spell, they captivate the emotional resources of people and freeze them into a cycle that does not end until the secrets can be worked through and moved beyond. Without this process individuals remain stuck in depressive thinking, stuck in fear that others may find out, and stuck in feeling like he’d never really fully find peace and happiness in his life or relationships.So, if secrets keep us stuck … who do you tell? Overdisclosure and telling-all does not help, in fact it fuels shame and amplifies fear. It is important to ensure you have healthy clear boundaries in your reaching to others you love and care about for help. Please read my article on boundaries in relationships for more information on appropriate boundaries. I recommend that regardless of the secret you bear, that you must ensure you are wise in who you share it with and that you review your intentions. Sharing for the intent to bring drama and ‘info’ to others is not a healthy and valid reason to share. Healthy sharing typically is a function of ones looking for support, love, and help. Sharing and working through your difficulties with a licensed therapist or counselor can be the first step in sharing and leaving the rut of emotional stuckness.
Copyright: No part of this article in section or full may be reproduced without permission from the author Justin Stum, MS LMFT. The one and only exception is for educational purposes and only if the contact information below for the author is fully cited here in article.Justin Stum, MS LMFT, 640 E. 700 S., Suite 103, St. George Utah 84770, 435-574-9193 https://www.justinstum.com