Psychologist (518) 372-0166

Q&A- Should You Confess Your Secrets?

Susan S. Woods, Ph.D.question and answer with Dr. Susan S. Woods

Q: Should You Confess Your Secrets? Can telling lies or hiding painful truths within a family be dangerous?

A: Truthful, accurate knowledge is all we have to go on when forming a belief system about any area of our lives.  It is essential in forming good relationships or making important decisions.  I’m not writing here about the little white lies, ” Do I look fat?” for instance but more fundamental things that people withhold from one another in the  belief that the truth will hurt too much or destroy a relationship or a life.  Parents of adopted children for example know that at some point they must tell their adopted child  about his background and help the child accept it and deal with his new beliefs and definitions of himself.

Other life altering truths or secrets like “I embezzled $10,000 dollars from my job or I fathered a child out of wedlock and haven’t told anyone including my wife and family can obviously have disastrous affects.  In the one, if the truth comes out the person will face prison and many losses to work and family relationships.  In the other, depending on the family,the person may be accepted, forgiven or even lauded for finally telling the secret.  But no matter what, that secret will forever alter the way that person is viewed  within his family. A withheld truth which finally comes out changes things positively or negatively forever because it necessitates a realignment of everyone’s beliefs about that person.

On the other hand, there maybe a great relief in store for the person who finally “fesses-up” and lets go of the painful secret and actually stars to deal with the truth and its effects. The people who finally hear the truth may be able to redefine or understand more completely their own lives in light of these revelations.  In many cases the effects can be quite healing. The confessor should weigh carefully the potential  harms or benefits which may result from his or her tell-all.

Susan S. Woods, Ph.D.

700 McClellan St ♦ Schenectady, NY 12304 ♦ (518) 372-0166

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