I could still remember the time when I was just a young schoolgoing child. Back then, it was so thrilling whenever a friend whispered to me and said, “Let me tell you something. But don’t tell anyone else.” That was a sign that I was privileged enough to be told a ‘secret’. The usual ‘secrets’ my friends told me when we were kids were “Don’t tell my mom I bought a new bracelet”, “Don’t tell my mom I’m eating junk food today” or “Don’t tell my mom I spent all my pocket money”. Those were easy secrets to keep, right?
But as I got into my teens, secrets meant more serious matters than ever before. I would find out that my classmates were cheating in a school exam, cheating on each others’ girlfriends and boyfriends and were backstabbing each other. There were so many times when I got to know about secrets that I wished I never knew about.
Secrets are meant to be kept…most of the time if you want to be a true friend. However, determining which kind of secrets to keep and which ones to reveal are very important too.
Big questions to ask yourself are:-
• What if you found out somebody was backstabbing your close friend?
• What if your friend has a serious alcohol, drug or gambling addiction?
• What if your friend is facing harassment?
• What if your friend has a serious illness and has only two months to live?
• What if your friend has a serious financial difficulty and is in trouble?
If you found out such secrets, would you still keep them to yourself or would you reveal the news to your friend’s family who would be able to help and support your friend physically and emotionally?
I’m pretty fortunate that I have never been in a difficult situation where I had to decide on whether or not to reveal such secrets.
If I ever encounter such situations in future, I would probably do the following:-
• Weigh out the amount of damage that would be done if the secret is not revealed.
• Try and persuade my friend to reveal the secret himself/herself by letting her/him know the consequences of not revealing the secret. I would also let her/him know the advantages of revealing the secret – such as being able to get the amount of support he/she needs to go through such situations. If all else fails, I’ll try to give hints to his/her family that he/she is undergoing some difficulties in life so they will ask him/her themselves.
• If someone was backstabbing my close friend, I will let her/him know when the time is right. But I’ll try to be as diplomatic as possible so that he/she won’t be too shocked or saddened by the news.
Revealing a secret is a very big deal and much care is needed before you decide to reveal the secret. Telling out a secret could either make or break your friendships. It’s a difficult topic to deal with and you need courage to decide.
I’m curious to know – have you been in a difficult situation where you were forced to make a decision whether to reveal a secret? Or did you continue living with the secret that you should have told?
Should you keep a secret? The choice is entirely yours.