Anything & Everything

December 2, 2013

The Art Of Keeping Secrets

Filed under: Blogging,Life — Susan Morgan @ 2:17 pm

Way too many people blab all they know to anyone who’ll listen which is why it seems like no  one has any secrets any more. Except they do. Being a privacy loving Scorpio, I understand secrets more than most people. This may be why I seem to know so many — real doozies some of them. It’s a compliment I suppose, relying on someone not to say a word of what you’ve just told them to another living soul.

And so I will not break confidences. Never have. Never will. Not that I haven’t been temped when the secret is particularly juicy or undermines a carefully crafted image. But once the momentary thrill of being “in the know” fades, I’d imagine you’d feel like a guilt ridden rat, unworthy and rather small. For Harry Potter fans think of Wormtail (aka Peter Pettigrew)  the one James/Lily trusted with their secret.

So, if you’re the keeper of a secret and are tempted to spill the beans, try:

  • Telling a pet, who naturally can’t repeat a thing.
  • Writing the secret down where only you will see it, destroy when ready.
  • Forget what you heard, just block out the information/details.
  • Imagine telling the secret to someone you trust, but never actually tell.
  • Don’t drink to excess yourself if you cannot control your urge to gossip.
  • Before any reveal, sleep on it. If you still feel the same in the morning go ahead.
  • Never reveal secrets out of anger/revenge, this never ends well.

The kind of secrets I’m talking about here aren’t the ones that people let slip if you’re a careful, attentive listener. You can learn quite a lot about a person (even things they’d rather you didn’t) just by listening to how they describe themselves, their trials and tribulations, how they talk to waitresses or porters, what they laugh (or cry) at, how they handle calamity both small and large.

These kind of revelations are fair game.

Alcohol also provides a source of major revelation — offering up more detail than you ever wanted, so long as you have the patience to sit through the drunken ramblings. A few drinks do wonders in terms of bringing strong emotions to the surface, and confidences seem to follow. Presuming you’re sober enough to remember what you learned in the morning, this the kind of secret is one of the most challenging to keep, but keep it you must.

You did not come by the knowledge fairly — sharing with anybody other than in the ways mentioned above is unfair.

All bets are off on that bit if the person on question is a raging, unrepentant alcoholic and what they reveal can help a victim of the alcoholic’s selfishness — then share away. In a bad divorce where kids were involved. Or a drunken confession of a crime (intent to harm) suspends any obligation you might be under to keep a confidence.

Sadly, serious stress can be a source of major revelation. When stress is bearing down people often feel the need to talk, if asked the right question in the right circumstances. Just as with alcohol, secrets can come tumbling out. I treat this information just like the alcohol inspired revelation, keep it to yourself and don’t share with a soul. Even more than alcohol, stress pushes buttons people don’t expect and it’s not fair to use (or share) what you learn because of that.

You’d want the same treatment.

It all comes down to this. People are entitled to their privacy… to be the ones that share a secret when and with who they want. That’s why the “outing” that used to happen to gay people always bothered me so much. Unless the secret is that a person is planning to eat little children in a basement (go on a rampage, blow up stuff), I see no reason to be the one to shatter another person’s peace.

What about me? Have I ever shared a secret I wished I’d kept? Sure, but nothing damaging enough to keep me from running for political office.


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