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Reflections! Keeping secrets

Keeping secrets
By William L. Bulla

Can you keep a secret? What about your best friend? Remember that those who share others' secrets with you might share yours with others. We're told that trust and honesty are the backbones of any good relationship, but too often they are forgotten in the excitement of spreading a "juicy" secret.
"Oh, Millie, do I have some news for you. But it's a secret so don't mention it to anyone! I've been talking to Francis and she is so upset. Her daughter, Beth, is three months pregnant, and as you know she is not married."
The next day Francis receives a phone call from Millie offering her sympathy, and revealing that the secret Francis had shared with her "dear friend" had now been passed on to another person and would soon be the talk of the neighborhood. That's what happens often when you tell a friend, "I trust you with my secret, so please don't tell anyone."
If you want to tell someone a secret, be sure that you can trust that person. That individual must be as meticulous about keeping your secret as he or she would be about his or her own. An unreliable person should not be entrusted with keeping your secret.
Keeping a secret and respecting the secrets of others, as opposed to sharing them with others, is a virtue related to self-discipline and sensitivity. Those who fail to understand this cannot guard a secret, and those who do not care about the consequences of words and actions cannot be considered discreet. Do not give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns.
If someone tells you they trust you with a secret, don't tell anyone else. Perhaps, the best way of doing that is to not know the secret. People cannot betray a secret they don't know. Too often, a person can be heard saying, "I know something you don't know!" Then other persons begin to pry out the secret. Suddenly, it is no longer a secret, as it is shared with many.
Keeping a secret can often be difficult, There are times when keeping a secret might be almost impossible. It takes a great deal of determination and willpower, not to tell someone what you have heard. So if you fear you do not have the willpower, do not put yourself in the position of hearing a secret. Failure to keep a secret could be embarrassing to you or to someone else. Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend." I think Ben handed out some very good advice.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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