9 things you should always keep private, according to psychology

Psychology tells us that it’s not always beneficial to share everything about ourselves. In fact, there are certain things better left private.

It’s a delicate balance, revealing enough to connect with others, but not so much that we expose our vulnerabilities or risk our wellbeing.

In this article, we’ll delve into nine things you should always keep private, as per psychological wisdom. 

Let’s get started. 

1) Your Personal Life

Psychology suggests there’s wisdom in keeping parts of your personal life to yourself.

In this age of social media, it’s tempting to share everything from what you had for breakfast to your latest relationship squabble. But oversharing can sometimes lead to feelings of vulnerability and even backlash from others.

Some aspects of your personal life are better kept private. This includes intimate details about relationships, family issues, and other highly personal experiences.

Sharing these details can sometimes lead to unwanted opinions, advice, or judgement from others. Not only that, but it can also set up a precedent that you’re always open for discussion, even when you’d prefer not to be.

It’s okay to establish boundaries and keep certain aspects of your life private. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or access to every part of your world. It’s a crucial part of maintaining a balanced and healthy emotional landscape.

When you have an urge to share something personal, take a moment to consider if it’s really necessary or beneficial. If not, it might be best kept under wraps.

2) Finances

Money matters, as I’ve learned, can be a slippery slope when shared too freely.

I remember once casually mentioning to a friend that I had finally paid off my student loans. Instead of the congratulatory response I expected, I was met with a tense silence. It turned out, my friend was still struggling with their own debt and my comment had unintentionally caused discomfort.

Since then, I’ve realized that finances are often best kept private. Discussing income, debts, or even savings can lead to awkward situations or fuel unhealthy comparisons. It’s okay to discuss in broad strokes, like financial goals or budgeting tips, but specifics about your financial status may lead to unnecessary stress or misunderstandings.

Everyone’s financial journey is unique and it’s not a race or competition. When you’re tempted to discuss your latest financial win or worry, consider the potential implications and whether it’s really necessary to share.

3) Goals and Dreams

Keeping your goals and dreams to yourself might seem counterintuitive, especially when we often hear about the importance of sharing our aspirations with others to gain their support. However, psychology research suggests that sharing your goals can sometimes be detrimental.

The reason is a phenomenon known as ‘social reality’. When you share a goal with someone, your brain experiences the same kind of satisfaction as if you’d actually achieved it. This can lessen your motivation to work towards the goal.

Moreover, when your goals are out in the open, you also open yourself up to criticism and doubt from others, which can further hinder your progress.

So the next time you set a big goal for yourself, consider keeping it close to your chest. You might find that the satisfaction of achieving it is even sweeter when it’s been quietly nurtured and pursued.

4) Medical History

Your health is a personal matter and generally, it’s a good idea to keep your medical history private.

Discussing health issues can sometimes lead to unsolicited advice or unnecessary worry from others. It can also lead to being treated differently, as others may see you through the lens of your condition rather than as an individual.

Moreover, in certain situations, sharing your medical history might even have legal implications or affect your professional life.

So unless it’s with a trusted friend, family member, or healthcare professional, or it’s necessary for safety reasons, it’s typically best to keep your medical history to yourself.

After all, your health is a personal journey and you get to decide when and where to share it.

5) Personal Grievances

We all have personal gripes and grievances. Maybe it’s the way your neighbor always parks slightly on your driveway, or how your coworker never refills the coffee pot. But constantly airing these grievances can create a negative atmosphere and potentially damage your relationships.

Discussing personal grievances can sometimes be seen as gossip or complaining, neither of which are particularly attractive traits. It can also lead others to question your ability to deal with conflict effectively.

Instead of venting these issues, consider addressing them directly with the person involved, if appropriate. Or find a healthy way to let off steam, such as journaling or exercise.

Everyone has their own battles and frustrations. It’s how we handle them that defines us.

6) Acts of Kindness

Performing acts of kindness can bring immense joy and satisfaction. However, sharing these deeds with others can sometimes dilute this feeling.

If you’ve ever secretly paid for someone’s coffee or helped a stranger in need without expecting anything in return, you know the warmth that comes from such selfless acts. Sharing these moments with others can sometimes shift the focus from the act itself to seeking validation or praise.

The beauty of kindness lies in its purity and selflessness. Keeping it private preserves its integrity and allows you to truly cherish the joy of giving.

The most genuine acts of kindness are those done not for recognition, but simply because they were the right thing to do.

7) Past Mistakes

We all have a history of mistakes and failures that have shaped us into the people we are today. These missteps, while important for our personal growth, aren’t necessarily something we need to broadcast.

I once shared a past mistake during a casual conversation, thinking it would serve as an interesting anecdote. Instead, it brought up old feelings of embarrassment and regret. Worse still, I noticed a shift in the way others perceived me.

Since then, I’ve come to understand that past mistakes are a part of my personal journey. They’ve helped me grow and learn, but they don’t define me. By keeping them private, I’m not denying them, but rather choosing to live in the present and future rather than the past.

Yyour past mistakes are just that – in the past. They’re lessons learned, not defining characteristics.

8) Family Problems

Every family has its own set of challenges and problems. While it’s natural to want to share and seek advice, discussing these issues openly can sometimes cause more harm than good.

Family issues are deeply personal and often complex. Broadcasting them can lead to unwanted opinions, judgments, or even misunderstandings. It can also inadvertently put a strain on your relationships within the family.

When dealing with family issues, it’s usually best to keep these private or discuss them with a trusted confidant or professional counselor. This respect for privacy helps maintain family harmony and allows for issues to be resolved internally.

Every family has its own dynamic and challenges. It’s how you manage and navigate these problems that truly matters.

9) Personal Beliefs

Your personal beliefs, whether they’re religious, political, or philosophical, are a fundamental part of who you are. However, sharing them openly can often lead to heated discussions or even conflict.

Beliefs are deeply personal and can vary greatly from person to person. Discussing them can sometimes result in arguments or a feeling of being misunderstood.

In addition, in a world where differing opinions are often met with hostility instead of understanding, keeping your beliefs private can sometimes be the best way to maintain peace and respect for others’ viewpoints.

Your beliefs are your own. They guide your actions and decisions, and it’s not necessary for everyone to know or agree with them.

Final thoughts: The Power of Privacy

The complexity of human behavior, and the individual choices we make, are often deeply connected with our psychological makeup.

One such profound connection is the relationship between our sense of self and the concept of privacy. Privacy, as we’ve seen, isn’t just about keeping secrets. It’s about preserving a space for yourself, a space that’s untouched by external judgement or influence.

From personal beliefs to your medical history, maintaining certain aspects of privacy allows you to safeguard your emotional well-being and maintain balanced relationships.

In a world where oversharing has become the norm, choosing to keep certain things private can be a powerful act of self-preservation and respect for personal boundaries.

As we navigate our lives, these private elements serve as internal anchors, grounding us in our identity and personal journey. They’re not for everyone to know or understand. They’re for us.

Remember, the power of privacy lies in understanding what to share and what to hold close. And that discernment can make all the difference.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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