As social animals, we are made to relate to other people. It is therefore natural for people to share their feelings and pains in times of adversity and challenging experiences. By opening up to someone, we ultimately define ourselves and try to make meaningful connections between our current experiences and our conception of the future. Many people crave an opportunity to confide in someone who can guarantee them complete privacy.
When people tell their issues, they expect the receiver of the information to help them solve their problem or give some suggestions in finding a solution to their problem. The information sharer normally also want to release the stress that is building inside and possibly find solace.
Opening up is incredibly common and has many advantages, however, there is still a paradox in revealing our problems. The point is that we do not know what the consequences will be. Owing to this, what have started to receive my attention are the consequences of problem sharing for the relationship between the sharer and the receiver. In other words, my focus is on the disturbing failure in keeping someone’s problems confidential.
Research has shown that many people have troubles in keeping other people’s issues no matter how personal or confidential the news is. It is apparent in our everyday lives. We experience this frequently in our social settings.
The use of technology has even made it possible to spread it faster. Think of the call recordings and text message screenshots that are used against the sharer to expose and ridicule them to others.
Their information is used with malicious intent and calculated towards damaging the sharer’s reputation.
Disclosing information can cause irreparable damage to the sharer when their intention was merely to find help and support. We have seen many broken relationships and even occurrences that have led to death depending on the nature of the disgrace. It is therefore important to cultivate the willpower to remain silent and maintain confidentiality by being trustworthy individuals.
The temptations could be strong that we would want some juicy gossips, but practising self-control is very important. Rumours normally stem from secrets and we will not be able to authenticate the veracity of the story.
This piece may provoke conscience that people should always just try to open up to professional counsellors, psychologists or social workers but let’s not overlook the perceptions of closeness and traditional practices of where we run to in times of trouble.
I hope we see the immense value in learning the importance of keeping things confidential, for as long as we do not take the oath of secrecy far that we let someone endanger themselves or someone else.
Remember, empathy is a wonderful skill to have so let us learn to respect and protect others from the limelight by honouring the trust and faith they have placed in us.
* Saara Meke Amakali is an Industrial Psychology and Sociology graduate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org