Beware of any situation which requires you to keep information confidential or secret. Once you agree to such a confining arrangement, you put yourself in a position where you need to guard what you say, and the people you are hiding information from always seem to know you have secrets you aren’t sharing. You may think you are being quite discreet, but when you have secrets, you radiate a feeling of hiding something.
A person with information they cannot share acts in a guarded way, not a natural and relaxed way. This suppressed communication will kill friendly relationships with others and will have long-term effects on the person who has to conceal what he knows.
You may have to agree to keep certain information secret in a military or law enforcement environment, but secrets in a social situation are deadly for your state of mind. If you become aware of someone doing something illegal or immoral and you hide it, you become complicit even though you are not the perpetrator.
Children in families where criminal activities exist are put in a terrible bind. They are aware of acts that they cannot communicate about. Until things change and they can tell what they know, their suppressed communication suppresses their life force, and they are emotionally damaged. Repairing the damage takes lots of skillful counseling.
It is one thing to see illegal or immoral activities that you cannot talk about. It is even more destructive when someone you know shares information you do not want to know and involves you in concealing it. This could be gossip about people you know and care for, and having been given this gossip, you are now compelled to hide it. This has the effect of suppressing your ability to talk with your friends and basically causes you to compromise your integrity.
I had an extreme case of this when I visited some friends I had not seen in several years. We had been great friends with them and their children for years until they moved away when the husband’s company promoted him to another position. I showed up expecting a weekend of fun and skiing with them and was greeted by the wife, who said, “I’m having an affair with my ski instructor, so don’t tell my husband!”
This put a damper on the weekend, as you would imagine, as the husband was one of my good friends, and I was used to sharing everything with him. The wife had always been ditsy but had never shown this side of her for the many years we had known them. It was the most painful weekend I have ever spent anywhere because I could not talk about what was going on. It was so painful that I cut all contact with my friend because I could not handle the fact of my suppressed communication.
I felt that I had betrayed my friend by not telling him, and I betrayed myself by not handling the situation at the time. I would have been better off excusing myself and spending the weekend at a nearby hotel. The damage to my personal integrity would have been much less.
The bottom line is to avoid other people’s secrets if you can. Anything you can’t talk about will eventually come back and get you. Open communication keeps things honest and straight.