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Holding onto secrets can initiate an emotionally induced stress response when they are associated with any form of fear, guilt, shame, internal conflict or other imbalanced emotions. Why does that happen? Human behaviourist, author and teacher, Dr John Demartini explains:

Every conscious decision and action you’ll ever make will be based upon that which you believe in that moment will provide you with the greatest advantage over disadvantage, greatest reward over risk, and greatest benefit over drawback. So if you are holding onto a secret, it is partly because you are assuming there will be more advantages than disadvantages, more rewards than risks and so on to keeping that secret quiet. Although in reality there are ultimately just as many drawbacks as benefits to holding that secret, because you assume there will be more advantages then disadvantages, you keep hold it within.

The disadvantages of keeping the secret though can become in some circumstances the very internally conflicting, disempowered state you may begin to feel and have to sustain. This can contribute to you feeling ever greater degrees of inner turmoil while you keep holding onto the secret. You may not easily transcend that internally conflicted state and may become caught in a progressively elevating degree of distress. So by holding onto the secret you may hold you and others back from living with the clear consciousness inducing truth. And as Freud and most psychologists would agree, repressing information because of fear or internal conflict can create a neurosis and psychosis that can actually result in symptoms.

So you may just pay a price. These psychological and physiological symptoms though are actually feedback mechanisms to get you to finally let the secret out, to speak up – to dissolve the internal conflict. In fact, sharing the secret may just have just as many benefits as keeping it. 

Let’s take the analogy of two people who are in a relationship. If either of them is not being fulfilled, they may turn to another person who is giving them praise or attention and consider secretly investigating the possibility of a new relationship with that person. If after a bit of investigation they decide this new relationship is not worth pursuing, they may just remain in their existing relationship until another potential mate emerges. But if they think that the new relationship has potential for something more, they may secretly have their affair for a period of time until they are convinced that the new relationship is viable and potentially lasting or not. They will then start to share their stored up anger or frustrations and create further clashes with their existing partner to justify their departure from that relationship.

The partner who is unfulfilled will often keep this secret instead of speaking up and admitting that there are problems. It is often wiser though to come clean and share with your existing partner, “I’m not fulfilled” and attempt to re-establish communication and negotiate some form of resolution before becoming open to having an affair.  But if you have already initiated a new relationship then let your partner know that you’re having an affair (or have had one), rather than hide it. Your partner may already have some form of intuitive knowing about it anyway. Keeping a secret will eventually affect you, your health and your established and new relationships. It’s wiser to be courageous enough to be true and authentic and handle the consequences or your partner’s reactions than it to suppress the truth in the long run. You may assume that your existing partner cannot handle the truth, or you may assume that there are still more advantages than disadvantages by keeping your secret, but this is generally not the case. In many cases speaking up may actually initiate a new, more empowered and deeper relationship with your partner than you ever previously have had.

Everybody has secrets. The only reason you’re not telling the truth is that you’re frightened to be independent, to take accountability and handle the consequences. If you are highly dependent and disempowered you may hide the truth because you don’t want to be without the security that that person or situation provides. The same thing can occur in every type of relationship, whether it be in business, a social relationship, or a relationship between parents and children. 

There are two primordial fears that can lead to the illness inducing stress response from holding onto such a secret – they are the fear of loss of that which you seek, derive pleasure from and are attracted to (the advantages) and the fear of gain of that which you avoid, derive pain from and are repulsed from (the disadvantages). These two polarities can cause an emotionally induced stress response and age you. And all can be avoided by opening up and simply telling the truth. Liberate yourself and take your burdens off your shoulders.

Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute. 

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