Keeping Secrets

Sometimes we have news . . . bad news . . . that we want to keep a secret. You know what I mean—we don’t want to share bad or sad news with others because it would make us feel like a burden to them.

Has that ever happened to you? Maybe you lost your job, maybe you ended a relationship, or had a health issue and you kept it to yourself.

I know this has happened to me multiple times in my life. Something bad is going on in my personal life and I feel like it would be a burden to share, or maybe I think it’s not important to others, so I don’t tell anyone. Worse yet, I worry that I would give the impression of being a failure, or fear that people will judge me for not being perfect, so I keep things to myself.

Someone told me many years ago: When you keep bad news to yourself, it weighs heavily on YOU and only you … it causes internal stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, etc. But, if you speak it out loud by telling others, then you have “shared” the bad news, so it is not resting only on your shoulders.

That has been a conversation I have had with myself many times in my life. I had something on my mind, or a situation came up, and I felt the best strategy was to keep it to myself. I figured I could solve it by myself, if I thought about it long enough. But oftentimes it would turn into a downward spiral of worry and anxiety. And remember, I didn’t want to be a burden.

Soon I would reflect back on the above advice I received … and I would eventually decide to talk about it with someone else. For me, there are a few people I can turn to—first and foremost is my family. As you know, my sister Jackie and I are business partners, and we see each other every day at work. So she is the most accessible person to me. We are quite different in personality and work styles, so I have found her perspective to be balanced, positive and supportive. Never judgmental. Of course, when my mother Frieda was alive, I would often turn to her. Being able to tell your mother things always seems to be comforting. Additionally, I am lucky that my two daughters and I are so close, and even though I am technically their parent, now that they are adults, they are two of my closest friends and confidants. And then there is my partner, Jack, and my close posse of girlfriends.

What about you?

Are you keeping something a secret? Are you hoping the issue will “go away” if you ignore it? Are you afraid to share the news with friends or family because you don’t want to be a burden, or because you don’t think it’s important to others?

It’s okay to admit that you’re holding back. But consider this: by telling a friend, a family member, or even a therapist your problem, you are allowing others to help and support you, and you have the opportunity for a different perspective or solution to the issue.

It’s hard to get help without asking for it. Oftentimes it takes a little extra vulnerability. But our friends and family cannot help us unless we are willing to share our thoughts and our deepest fears.

Personally, I can say that this is one of life’s most important lessons. Allow others to support you.

Karen