OPINION

There are many reasons why people keep secrets

People keep secrets for many reasons

I have secrets. I bet you do too.

There are many reasons to keep secrets.

Some secrets are kept as a matter of strategy.

We don't want the enemy to know where our submarines are.

If you plan to quit your job this coming year, you may keep your decision secret until after you receive your bonus.

In the category of strategic secrets we can put crimes we have committed, big lies we have told, and major mistakes we have made that no one noticed.

If you, like the man in the song You're so vain, are with "some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend," you will keep that secret.

If you, like a man in Italy, have been paid for work for many years even though you never did anything or even showed up, you will keep that secret.

Some matters we keep secret because we feel guilty about something we did or didn't do.

Never made it to a single birthday party of your only child? That behaviour might go here.

Let your workplace rival in a prior workplace take the blame for a mistake you made? Put that silence here.

Some individuals keep secrets due to paranoia.

If you think others are out to ruin you, you keep as much secret as possible.

Some people keep matters secret for other, obscure, reasons.

My father, for instance, would never tell anyone but the tax office his income. I don't know if he was afraid to jinx himself, wanted to avoid becoming a robbery target, or what.

If you read the great true-crime book, In Cold Blood, you will see that there are risks in others thinking you have money.

Secrets related to guilt feelings can cause psychological harm.

Guilt can nag at a person over a long time. So some criminals confess and essentially put themselves in prison.

I suggested to my law-abiding, guilt-oriented research assistant that if she ever commits a serious crime, she can punish herself by doing a zillion push-ups.

She can make amends; she can change her ways. But keep mum about that criminal act.

Catholics confess their sins to a priest and receive forgiveness, along with a penance of having to say a certain number of prayers. Not a bad outcome.

If your secrets serve you, keep them.

If not, spill - you may become a better person, or at least more interesting.

  • John Malouff
This story People keep secrets for many reasons first appeared on The Canberra Times.