DON’T SHUSH ME

Women's Health (Malaysia) - - HEALTHY DOSE -

Which is the lesser evil: The con­stant worry you feel from hid­ing some­thing or the vul­nera­bil­ity and pain you may ex­pe­ri­ence if you fess up? It de­pends on the re­la­tion­ship, but re­search shows the men­tal and phys­i­cal prob­lems that come with be­ing se­cre­tive are cut by at least half when you start speak­ing the truth.

And of course, there’s this: Per­sonal bonds are built on trust. If you keep a se­cret that di­rectly af­fects an­other per­son (eg, the dent you put in your friend’s car), you miss out on the ben­e­fits—like over­all bet­ter health and a longer life—that of­ten come with feel­ing known and un­der­stood, says New York City psy­chi­a­trist Dr Gail Saltz. “If they re­ject you, it prob­a­bly wasn’t a very healthy re­la­tion­ship.”

If your se­cret is more of the haunt­ing per­sonal va­ri­ety, such as a life­long eat­ing dis­or­der, you can min­imise the odds that you’ll feel judged by con­fid­ing in an em­pa­thetic friend whose re­ac­tion is more likely to be “I’m so glad you felt safe shar­ing” than “Um, why have you never told me?” says psy­chi­a­trist Dr Amy Banks, of the Welles­ley Cen­tres for Women.

Speak­ing up is eas­ier said than done, but these steps can help make the con­ver­sa­tion go more smoothly.

1 Make time. Don’t spring your re­veal in pub­lic or when the per­son you’re con­fess­ing to won’t have time to process. Say you have some­thing to dis­cuss and set aside a spe­cific date and place to do so, in per­son.

2 Ad­mit this is hard for you. Es­pe­cially if your truth will sting. Let the other per­son know that you’re truly sorry and try­ing to make amends.

3 Be di­rect. Spill your se­cret or own your lie as straight­for­wardly as you can. Don’t go off on tan­gents or make ex­cuses.

4 Take your medicine. Your ad­mis­sion may elicit

tears or si­lence, but if you’re con­fess­ing some­thing that screws with the per­son you’re telling, your job is to pull on your big-girl pants and deal, not get de­fen­sive. If the other per­son needs time to think, say you’ll be there when he or she is ready to talk. The fol­low-up is, in many ways, more im­por­tant than the re­veal, says Saltz. Trans­la­tion: If you don’t re­spect that it may take some­one a while to di­gest the news, you could tor­pedo the re­la­tion­ship.

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