The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are

The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are

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An eye-opening look at why we keep the secrets we keep, how to better understand and cope with them, and when (and how) we should bring them to light

Think of a secret that you're keeping from others. It shouldn't take long; behavioral scientist Michael Slepian finds that, on average, we are keeping as many as thirteen secrets at any given time. His research involving more than 50,000 participants from around the world shows that the most common secrets include lies we've told, addiction, mental health challenges, hidden relationships, and financial struggles.

Our secrets can weigh heavily upon us. Yet the burden of secrecy, Slepian argues, rarely stems from the work it takes to keep a secret hidden. Rather, the weight of our secrets comes from carrying them alone, without the support of others. Whether we are motivated to protect our reputation, a relationship, a loved one's feelings, or some personal or professional goal, one thing is clear: Holding back some part of our inner world is often lonely and isolating. But it doesn't have to be.

Filled with fresh insight into one of the most universal--yet least understood--aspects of human behavior, The Secret Life of Secrets sheds a fascinating new light on questions like: At what age do children develop the cognitive capacity for secrecy? Do all secrets come with the same mental load? How can we reconcile our secrets with our human desires to relate, connect, and be known? When should we confess our secrets? Who makes for the ideal confidant? And can keeping certain types of secrets actually enhance our well-being?

Drawing on over a decade of original research, Slepian reveals the surprising ways that secrets pervade our lives, and offers science-based strategies that make them easier to live with. The result is a rare window into the inner workings of our minds, our relationships, and our sense of who we are.