Advice on Keeping Secrets

Advice on Keeping Secrets

Damon Lindelof, a man best known for the TV show Lost, talks about keeping a secret, a timely topic as we approach Christmas. He points out that often, sharing a secret is selfish, because it deprives the recipient of anticipation and surprise. He also points out that most secrets have a deadline: that is, at some point they will be revealed.

Keeping secrets can be fun: surprise parties, extravagant gifts, pregnancy announcements, good deeds. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of seeing someone’s face when they open that gift or hear that news. But not all secrets are healthy. Sometimes we keep a secret because it is sad or tragic. We don’t talk about the child given up for adoption, or the rape, or the domestic violence.

Secrets usually involve some form of lying, either through deliberate falsehood or omission. Lies can create barriers in relationships, which can be damaging. In fact, a lot of families struggle with myths like Santa and the Tooth Fairy because they seem like lies. I think Lindelof’s advice can be helpful in sorting out cases of fun secrets vs. unhealthy ones. Is there an expiration date? Is the secret being kept to increase the joy of others? Will revelation of the secret hurt anyone, or conversely, will keeping the secret hurt anyone? Think through your secrets and make a decision. And stay posted for next week, when we’ll talk about how to reveal a secret!

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