What Secrets Are Your Family Hiding?

Shame & Family Secrets

Some family secrets are fun-like birthday surprises or special gifts. Other secrets, like abuse or childhood trauma, can cripple the human spirit with feelings of shame, worthlessness and mistrust of others.

The following Checklist was created and distributed by Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.


  • There’s something I can’t talk about to anyone.
  • My world would crumble if others knew my secret.
  • We pretend it didn’t happen in our family.
  • It must have been my fault.
  • Someone else would be too hurt if the secret came out.
  • I have to hide my anger about this experience.
  • I’m afraid my children are being affected by this secret.

If you can identify with any of these concerns, consider talking with a counselor. Confidential support can give you courage to sort out feelings, issues and choices.

Something secret, something awful happened…

Feeling that we have to hide something from others is a heavy burden.

Psychologist Gershen Kaufman says, “to live with shame is to feel alienated and defeated, never quite good enough to belong. And secretly we feel we are to blame. The deficiency lies within ourselves alone. Shame is without parallel a sickness of the soul.”

Celebrate Life Again

Secret fears and anger can leave us paralyzed and cut off from close relationships. We can’t go back and change those past experiences, but counseling can provide a bridge to healing. Counselors give us the support and courage we need to identify the painful issues, express grief or anger, and learn how to nurture and affirm our own worth.

Some things can change. We can reclaim our respect and dignity. We can begin to restore an essential inner peace that allows us to grow and share our lives more fully with those we love. We can learn to celebrate life again.

For more information on healing, contact Lutheran Social Services.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.

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