As a counselor, it’s fairly easy to keep secrets. That’s because I’m required to.

 

It’s against the law except under very specific circumstances for me to share what clients tell me. So, I’ve had to get good at it.

 

Usually that’s not a problem. But if a person’s story starts toying with my brain, I know it’s time for supervision. Somehow the client’s story is getting tangled up with my own story. In my contract I specifically state that I once in a while I need to meet with a specific experienced clinician in order to know how to proceed. What that looks like is me saying in general terms “I have a client who is going through a scenario like such and such . . . . ”

I don’t have to say who the person is.

 

But when it comes to my own life I’m the worst. When my husband and I booked a trip to Europe, he asked me not to say anything to the kids until it was a done deal.

 

By noon the kids knew.

 

Have you ever struggled to keep a secret? There’s plenty of research to explain why keeping a secret is so difficult.

 

Psychologist Art Markman says

 Our minds have a limited capacity to process information so if you’re engaged in a complex discussion, it may be difficult to keep track of what you’re allowed to say and what you aren’t, which can lead you to divulge information you shouldn’t.

 

The word secret literally means “to sift apart.” Most of us want to be integrated and feel whole. Keeping a secret makes us feel disintegrated and that makes us uncomfortable.

 

Psychology professor David Strayer at the University of Utah says secret keeping requires multitasking. 

 

The people who multitask the most are the worst at doing so. Multitasking takes away bandwidth from what psychologists call ‘metacognition,’ or your awareness of your own mental processes. ‘If you’re doing a lot, you have less attention to monitor your own activity, so you’re not aware that you’re missing some details

 

 

If you’re doing a lot, you have less attention to monitor your own activity, so you’re not aware that you’re missing some details.


 

 


Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."