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How to keep a secret

Strengthen friendships by being a trusted confidante, says Sarah Neish

by Psychologies

Reinforce bonds

‘The telling and keeping of secrets often defines who our casual, close or best friends are, as trust is an essential component of intimacy,’ says friendship coach Dr Jan Yager. If a friend tells you a secret, see it as a chance to improve your relationship with them and show how much they mean to you.

Curb compulsion

‘Having a secret sends us into a childlike state where there’s no logic, only compulsion,’ says psychologist Linda Blair. As with all compulsions, the urge to tell is temporary. Each time you feel tempted to spill, resist for 24 hours, and the impulse will pass. The good feeling you’ll get from holding back will outweigh the short-lived rush of telling.

Offload on paper

If a secret is weighing you down, lessen the burden by writing it in a journal. ‘This way, the page becomes the holder of the secret instead of you, which can help you to detach emotionally,’ says life coach Jackee Holder. Just don’t leave it where it can be found.

No spoilers

Happy news often calls for discretion too, says Yager. A job promotion or pregnancy is something a friend will want to reveal herself. Pipping them to the post by announcing their news first can spoil their excitement. Let loved ones tell their own good news, no matter how proud you are of them.