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Research Predicts You're Hiding 13 Secrets

A new study has found that the average person is holding onto 13 secrets, five of which they've never told a living soul. And it's not the secret itself that will haunt you—it's all the mental energy you spend thinking about it. New research shows that some people actually feel physically heavier when they're burdened with a secret, and that extra "weight" can skew how you navigate your surroundings.

When participants were asked to judge the slope of a hill or the length of a distance, those who were preoccupied with keeping secrets judged the hills as steeper and the distances longer than they really were. Michael Slepian, a professor at the Columbia Business School told The Atlantic, "We found that when people were thinking about their secrets, they actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight."

Slepian and his team examined 13,000 real life secrets to figure out what people are keeping secrets about, what it's like to have a secret, and why secret-keeping has overwhelmingly been viewed as a negative human experience. These secrets involved things like telling a lie, harming someone, drug use, theft, violating someone's trust, sexual infidelity, or a secret hobby.

The team then asked the participants how often their minds wandered to think about those secrets in the past month, and how often they found themselves in situations that forced them to actively conceal these secrets. Secrets were far more likely to come to the fore when people were alone with their thoughts than in social situations. In other words, we spend way more mental energy mulling over our secrets on our own time than actively trying to conceal them.

Possible Preaching Angles: 1) Burden; Guilt; Secrets - This research agrees with the Bible that unconfessed sin is a tangible "burden of guilt too heavy to bear" (Psalm 38:4); 2) Confession; Forgiveness - How blessed is the relief that comes as confession and forgiveness lift the weight from the soul.

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