Finding the Peace

Secrets Impact Our Brain and Our Authentic Self

Secrets impact our brain. Yes, physically, our brain feels the effects of secret-keeping and this, in turn, may impact our body, our mood and our perspective. Of course, we all have secrets in the sense that we don’t share everything that we have going on inside ourselves. But, it would behoove us to at least be honest with ourselves about our real intentions and motivations.

Neither our brain, nor our body likes to keep secrets. Our brain struggles with keeping a secret because it is an emotional burden. Keeping secrets promotes inner conflict, “Should I tell, or should I not tell?”  Maybe the secret is a bigger secret that you anguish over and this brings about worry and anxiety causing cortisol to dump into your body – leaving you feeling stressed. This cortisol dump keeps your body revved up which is uncomfortable and can eventually bring about anxiety or depression impacting your mood. A physical consequence of the cortisol is that you deplete your immune system making illnesses more likely. Sustained stress can lead to digestive problems, headaches, back pain and high blood pressure. (Johnson, 2012)


And besides our mood and our physical health, another interesting study showed our perspective is heavier when we have secrets. Secrets literally make you feel “weighed down”.  In this study participants were asked to gauge climbing a hill. Those “carrying a secret” were more likely to hypothesize that the hill was steeper than those not carrying a secret.”


And if you aren’t carrying a “big secret” that takes a lot of your energy, then work towards fine-tuning your clarity in your daily agendas that you carry within. As we work towards being authentic, our “real self”, we may look at our interactions and our choices in doing something, and lighten the load by being real. Do we have a pure agenda in making our decisions?  Or do we “carry” a hidden agenda, a “secret agenda”?  Perhaps we really don’t want to go to our friend’s house for dinner but, we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Or, maybe, we really want the external notoriety we will get from being on a particular committee and, so, we take the job for that reason and not for the reason of “caring about the mission”. Maybe we maintain a friendship because of what we get through that relationship and not so much because we really like the person. We may opt to not share these hidden agendas with anyone but, the first step is to admit the agendas to ourselves. The hidden motives are just like keeping a secret. As you work towards keeping the truth hidden, your brain has to expend energy to keep the deceptions straight. Brain energy goes towards keeping your lies in order versus being creative or solving problems. This impacts the rest of your life. 

And besides, others pick up on the hidden agenda. People can feel authentic energy versus manipulative or impurely motivated actions. And if it appears you are getting by with it and others aren’t noticing, don’t kid yourself. Ill intentioned actions often tend to back fire and come back to bite you. This result, in itself, can remind you to take a look at what your intentions are and begin to become honest with yourself and with others.
Bottom line is this, what we keep in our brain that isn’t congruent with our authentic self is going to take energy, bring us down and keep us from being the person we are meant to be. So take the time to assess if you need to unload some secrets. Figure out what support systems you can utilize to unload the secrets, and begin today by taking one step towards being honest with yourself and ultimately honest with others. Take the leap -be your real self. 

Works Cited


Johnson, M. D. (2012, April 29). Retrieved June 10, 2012, from Human Biology: Concepts and current Issues: htt://


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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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