In her book, “The Secrets Women Keep: What Women Hide and the Truth That Brings Them Freedom,” Dr. Jill Hubbard discusses the biggest secrets women keep according to her extensive research. She interviewed more than 2000 women and found patterns regarding the secrets women keep and the reasons behind the secrets.
Dr. Hubbard is a clinical psychologist, practicing in Costa Mesa, California. Her professional focus is on women’s issues, including ongoing depression, self-esteem and personal growth. Hubbard was prompted to write the book after she announced on her New Life Ministries radio show that she wanted women to tell their stories on a blog about secrets.
She invited women to write in anonymously and says of the experience, “We got flooded. I think I got over 900 responses of women writing in their secrets. They were heart wrenching … I realized there was a felt need out there, which got me started on the project.”
According to Hubbard, there are various reasons why women keep secrets. One of the main reasons is because of the comparisons women make between themselves and others. “We compare our insides to other people’s outsides, and it isn’t a fair comparison. Then we isolate ourselves because we don’t measure up.”
Women keep many types of secrets. Two of the main areas that Hubbard focuses on in her book are secrets surrounding marriage and sexuality. She said, “Women are relational, so we view most things through relationships.
We’re always looking to the relationship for everything. When we find ourselves in a situation where we’re unhappy, we point to the relationship.”
She highlights women who are unhappy in their marriage but who don’t feel the need to pursue divorce or who feel trapped because their religious views don’t support the idea of leaving the relationship. These women most often suffer in silence. “They don’t feel like they can do anything about it or say anything about it,” Hubbard said.
In the area of sexuality, the biggest issue Hubbard encountered was in regard to the differing sexual needs between partners. Hubbard illustrates the various aspects of sexuality about which women are keeping secrets. The commonly held stereotype is that men want sex more often than women, but Hubbard found the reverse is often true. She also heard many stories of sexual addiction. Hubbard points to the double standard that exists in our society surrounding women’s sexuality and said, “There’s hardly anything out there for women, so there is kind of that double shame.
Sometimes it even feels more shameful because nobody expects women to struggle with this. That was one of the biggest surprises to me.”
So what should we do if we have a secret that is causing us emotional distress? According to Hubbard, the most important thing is to share your secrets with someone. Keeping our secrets inside can be destructive. It can cause stress, depression, strain on relationships, and can even lead to health problems. Hubbard knows that sharing these shameful secrets can be extremely difficult, but she believes it is imperative to share our secrets with others.
She stated, “When we just get in our own heads, all we have is our own little voice and nothing to bounce it off of. We need other women because they give us perspective.” Maybe your secret really isn’t as shameful as you think.
Disclosing your innermost feelings with a trusted confidante can lead you to find that others are experiencing the very same thing. Talking about your problems can provide valuable insight and possible solutions you had never considered. Most of all, taking a risk to share your secrets releases an emotional burden.
Hubbard noted, “It’s important to take risks. My main advice would be to take a risk somewhere.” She believes the most important step to overcoming the destructive hold our secrets can have on us is to share them and recommends some ways to do this.
First, explore the places that seem safe. Who can you share a small secret with? Testing the waters can lead to an increased confidence that sharing a part of yourself is okay and is a safe thing to do. Find one close friend or family member to whom you can vent and see where it leads you.
Consider therapy if the risk seems too great. If you truly feel too overwhelmed in sharing information with those close to you, Hubbard says therapy is a great place to practice letting go of your secrets. Talking to a therapist often seems safer because the personal risk isn’t as great. However, the results are just as beneficial.
Maybe a support group is the place for you. If you are hiding an issue like a substance abuse problem or sexual addiction, a support group may be the ideal place to let go of your secret in a safe, anonymous environment.
Dr. Hubbard reminds us to take a risk somewhere. She said, “We’re not meant to live this life alone. When we’re not alone and when we connect with people, it brings joy to life.”