If you’ve ever wondered why we keep secrets and what motivates us to spill them, look no further’ Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again
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. Psychologist 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 we most frequently keep secrets about lies we’ve told, ambitions, addictions, mental health challenges, hidden relationships and financial struggles.
Our secrets can weigh heavily upon us. Yet the burden of secrecy rarely stems from the work it takes to keep a secret hidden. Rather, the weight of our secrets comes from carrying them alone. 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 behaviour, The Secret Life of Secrets sheds 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 and to whom? And can keeping certain types of secrets actually enhance our well-being?
Drawing on over a decade of original research, this book reveals the surprising ways in which 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.