When people keep secrets, they are generally trying to protect something, notes Slepian. So it makes sense why you might place a positive spin on keeping said secret in order to spare someone else’s feelings, your own reputation, etc. However: “The average secret hurts our well-being,” says Slepian. “The cost is greater than we think it is.”
It’s not the type of secret per se that is more or less harmful to your health—for example, it’s not as if someone who has more than 13 secrets is struggling more than someone who keeps only three. “No particular secret necessarily is harmful to you,” Slepian says. “When a secret is harmful to you is when you find yourself ruminating on it. When you find yourself stuck on it, and you find yourself unsure what to do or feeling ashamed.” If your mind frequently wanders back over to that secret again, and again, and again, it can start to harp on your well-being.