The psychology of secrets represented by a man leaning in and cupping his ear to hear a secret.

How does Mel Robbins explain the psychology of secrets? Why do we keep secrets, even if they could hurt somebody?

In an episode of The Mel Robbins Podcast, Robbins and guest Dr. Michael Slepian delve into the psychology of secrets. Slepian specifically focuses on their prevalence in personal relationships, particularly suspected infidelity.

Learn more about the human tendency to keep secrets from people, no matter how extreme they are.

The Psychology and Impact of Secrets

The psychology of secrets discussion is informed by Slepian’s personal experiences. His emphasis is on approaching suspected infidelity not as an accusation but as a call for transparency, trust, and mutual effort to resolve issues.

Robbins extends the conversation to include the impact secrets can have on individuals. She discusses “self-estrangement” that can occur when secrets are suppressed. The individuals disconnect from their self-identity, leading to a deterioration of self-trust pertaining to their life experiences.

The Nature and Formation of Secrets

Slepian’s comprehensive research suggests that the average individual has around thirteen secrets at any given time, five of which have never been shared. These secrets span a spectrum of topics, from serious lies, undisclosed romantic desires, and financial struggles to hidden family stories, personal dissatisfaction, mental health issues, and breaches of trust. 

Holding onto secrets resembles carrying a physical weight according to Slepian’s research, enhancing our understanding of why revealing a secret often feels like lifting a burden. 

Human secrecy mirrors behavior observed in other species like chimpanzees and developmentally emerges in childhood once children cultivate an understanding of their cognitive individuality from others.


Context

In the complex landscape of human relationships, secrets play a significant role in shaping our interactions and emotional well-being. Delving into the psychology of secrets reveals their profound impact on individuals and their connections with others. While no specific historical or recent events are mentioned, this topic remains relevant as personal relationships continue to evolve.

At its core, the psychology of secrets explores how withholding or revealing information can affect individuals and their relationships. Secrets have the power to create a sense of self-estrangement, where one feels disconnected from their own identity and experiences. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or even depression. Moreover, suspected infidelity is a common secret that can erode trust within romantic partnerships. Understanding cognitive individuality—the awareness and understanding of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and experiences as separate from others—is crucial in comprehending how secrets impact our mental health.

Transparency and trust are key themes intertwined with understanding secrets. Building trust requires open communication in relationships where both parties feel safe to share their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or betrayal. The impact of keeping or revealing secrets raises ethical questions about honesty versus protecting oneself or others from potential harm.

Psychology of Secrets: Explained by Mel Robbins & Michael Slepian

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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