Actualized Leadership: The Secrets You Keep, Keep You

Actualized Leadership: The Secrets You Keep, Keep You

Secrets act like a psychic poison that alienates their possessor from the community.
Carl Jung

You meet your destiny on the road you took to avoid it.
Carl Jung

Everyone has a chapter they don’t read out loud.

We all keep secrets.  There are certain chapters in our past, and parts of our present, that we keep hidden.  In some instances keeping things to yourself is healthy.  Not all of our truths or thoughts should be shared with everyone, or anyone, for that matter.

However, Jung cautions us that keeping secrets feeds our Shadow and ultimately creates and empowers a powerful adversary inside each of us, waging an ongoing battle between our highest self and our primal, instinctual Shadow.  We don’t keep these secrets, they keep us.  The purpose of this blog is to examine the danger in keeping secrets, and to free ourselves from the internal prison they become for each of us.

Private vs. Secret

There is a very important distinction that needs to be made between private and secret.  It’s important to discern between healthy privacy, those things we voluntarily keep hidden, and unhealthy secrets, those things that keep us.  Privacy is the state of being unobserved, and can include our deepest values and beliefs, as well as our daydreams and fantasies.  We may choose to reveal these beliefs and thoughts to others at some point, often creating a more intimate relationship with the other party.  Secrets, by contrast, are actively hidden from others.  There is a deliberate act on our part to keep these hidden, usually because we believe it could cause harm to ourselves or another party.  In addition to fear, there is often an element of shame that accompanies our secrets.  There may or may not also be guilt or regret, but the combination of fear and shame often leads us to believe that we have no choice but to keep certain matters secret.  One of the well-known tenets from Alcoholics Anonymous is “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”  That’s a pretty compelling declaration, and one that should give us all pause.

The Benefits of Disclosure

Deciding to ultimately tell someone your secret(s) is a very personal decision and should be made carefully.  While the outcome of your act is unknown, there are some potential benefits that may occur and they follow:

  1. Confessing your secret to another may not only open the door to forgiveness from a person, it also opens the door for you to begin to truly forgive yourself, the third and final step in the Transformational Cycle.
  2. It prevents the other party from the pain of betrayal by finding out about your secret from another source.  Although the other party may be hurt and disappointed, you can avoid making it worse by making them also feel betrayed.
  3. It opens up the possibility of truly feeling liberated and connected to another party.  Whether the other party is a spouse or significant other, family member or friend, “coming clean” allows you to relieve yourself of the burden and the opportunity to take a relationship to a deeper level.

Ultimately you have to decide what to reveal and what to keep hidden.  The decision to reveal or hide varies by person and context, and only you can determine if it’s worth the risk.

But you should consider Jung’s caution that keeping secrets is akin to drinking psychic poison.  It not only alienates us from others, it alienates us from our highest, actualized self.

How much poison have you consumed in your life?

Is it time for some cleansing in the form of transparency and authenticity with someone special in your life?

What destiny might become available to you on the road of disclosure?


  1. Anna Kamgaing

    Today, I had on my mind that: there is the “back story” we tell to give the appearance of vulnerability, thereby attracting others with our façade of authenticity. And then there is THE story. The story we’re too afraid to tell. Not that the story we tell isn’t some neatly packaged version of the untold story…but. Sometimes I think, “I’d really like to know that person.” Or, “I’d really like for them to know me.” But is that ever a good idea? Funny how all relationships start out by getting to know someone and then there always comes a point at which you’ve heard enough.

    • Dr Will Sparks

      Yes, I think the time and energy you decide to invest in another person should depend on the depth of relationship you plan to/need to have with him/her. I like your notion of “back story” vs. “the” story … so true.


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