Skeletons in Our Closets – Health Benefits of Revealing Secrets

10.20.2015 Life
Lindsey Engelhardt
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Although spring is not around the corner just yet, it’s time to clean our closets and rid our lives of those pesky lingering skeletons. And no, I’m not talking about actual corpses, though ‘tis the spooky season. I mean the juicy, shameful secrets that one makes an effort to conceal, storing away in a metaphorical closet, a cupboard in our hearts with lock and key. These dirty little secrets are known to be physically and emotionally antagonistic to our health, so let’s release ‘em and revel in the lightness of living free and completely open. Bury those skeletons where they belong—far away and out of your life for good.

The health benefits of dumping your heltor skeletors are pretty obvious, revealers can release traumatic experiences by no longer expending cognitive or emotional resources actively hiding them. By expressing pent-up emotions surrounding an event, one’s level of emotional arousal may be lessened. The reason why it’s beneficial to gain new insight towards an event of your past is a little sumthin’ sumthin’ called closure. Ah, it feels amazing just to type the word. People tend to dwell on their uncompleted rather than their completed tasks. Those who reveal their secrets have a better sense of resolution, so they can move forward and leave these shameful experiences behind.

Not to say that all secrets are shameful. More so, for whatever reason, one with personal secrets is ashamed of themselves. It’s about honesty—being honest with you first and foremost is a step towards loving yourself and authentically thriving.

It hasn’t always been so easy to hide. For more than a decade, we’ve lived with personal technologies, specifically social media platforms, that have helped us create alternative personae. Our reinventions feel triumphant and artificially liberating, but how is this avoidance of truth affecting our mental health and sequentially, our physical health?

A University of Notre Dame study followed 72 adults for five weeks. The participants were split into two groups, a control group and a sincerity group that was told to speak only the truth. By the end of the study, those in the sincerity group had seven fewer symptoms than the control group, such as sore throat, headaches, nausea, and mental tension. As Forbes puts it, “Perhaps all of that lying causes a continual level of psychosomatic stress that handicaps our immune system.”

Try this five-week sincerity challenge, or write your secrets down in a stream of consciousness technique called Purge Emotional Writing, or just be brave and confront your demons head on in whatever way you feel safe.

So spill the beans and say bone-voyage to secrets!

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