As of late, neuroscientists have warned people of the biological hazards of keeping a secret. While they may seem innocent and harmless, withholding things from others, especially your close loved ones, has the power to compromise your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Of course, secrets to a minor degree are normal, and even natural. However, when secrets become an obstacle to your daily life and relationships, it is of the utmost importance that you confront the root emotional cause of this stressor.
Why Secrets Compromise Your Health
According to psychiatrist and author of the “Anatomy of a Secret Life,” keeping secrets or living a secret life, sparks and fosters deeply problematic inner dialogues and conflict.
Dangerously, when left professionally undiagnosed or unattended to, secrets can provoke anxiety and chronic worrying.
The reason? The cingulate cortex, essential to our emotional responses, are deeply entrenched and wired to tell the truth. Known as the “logical lobe,” when we betray our natural instincts to be transparent and truthful, other regions of the brain cannot properly transmit information and importance data.
Evidently, secrets put neurological strain on your brain to perform its biological and instinctual tasks, stressing out your cortex. “The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making, complex thought, and deception,” says neurosurgeon Gopal Chopra, and consequently, when these two regions cannot operate unfettered, the end result is dangerous emotional burdens.
Commonly known as your “fight or flight” response, when your prefrontal cortex wins the battle within your brain to continuously keep a secret, the pressure causes your cingulate cortex to rev up your body’s production of stress hormones. The bigger the secret, or the higher you consider the risk of the secret being leaked, the higher the anxiety and negative symptoms.
Evidently, if secrets persist over long periods of time, this can lead to sustained mental stress, with the power to manifest and flare up through digestive problems, high blood pressure, insomnia, back pain, thyroid issues and a weakened immune system.
Secrets: The Do’s and Don’ts
In spite of the danger, secrets are a natural facet of human nature. To boot, many secrets by their very nature will reduce stress or unnecessary strife, like not telling your child about their surprise birthday present or a surprise vacation you have planned for your significant other.
The point of diminishing returns, for secrets, is when keeping the secret or the stressful emotions that accompany the thought of it being leaked negatively impact your inner emotional dialogue.
When the perception that a secret is so costly to your everyday life, that the thought of it being leaked results in physical illness or ailments, it’s imperative that you seek out professional attention – or at the very least, confide in someone close and trustworthy.
Finally, it’s important to remember that we often inflate the severity of a “secret” to such a degree that we become more wound up in the social dynamic than the actual content of the secret.
While it might sound trivial or obvious, the simple act of writing out a pros and cons list can be instrumental to subsiding unnecessary stressors. This simple task has been scientifically proven to dramatically reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and ease mental illness flare-ups.