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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist if you don’t like talking about your problems with friends or family. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
A lot of people are hesitant to talk about their problems. They might prefer to work through stuff on their own, or else they might have learned that opening up to others can lead to all kinds of problems.
So what happens when you feel like you want to discuss things with someone but you don’t know where to start? Or if you feel like you’re being pressured into talking about these issues but don’t feel like you need to?
The key here is to determine what the best course of action will be for you. A lot will depend on the problem(s) you’re working through, as well as the circumstances around why you may or may not want to discuss them.
Why don’t you like talking about your problems?
If you find that you have an instinct to go quiet and shut down when it comes to discussing issues that are weighing on you, it’s important to determine where this instinct comes from.
For many if not most people, this kind of knee-jerk reaction stems from instances in which they experienced negativity related to trying to open up. Some people might have tried talking to their parents about things that were troubling them, only to have these supposedly trusted elders invalidate their emotions, or not bother listening to them at all.
In other cases, the person’s problems may have been caused by those who were closest to them. As a result, they learned early on that they couldn’t talk to or trust anyone. After all, when those you’re supposed to be able to trust and turn to are the ones hurting you, how can you open up to anyone?
Things might have gotten even worse if they had tried to open up to other people (like teachers or friends’ parents) about things that were going on, only to be disbelieved, or to be told that they were blowing things out of proportion, or possibly even the cause of their own issues.
Of course, other people might have had perfectly loving, supportive family lives. They might simply prefer to keep their issues close to their chests and not discuss them with others. Some of them might not want to appear “weak” by admitting to personal difficulty, while others just want to work things out on their own.
If you don’t like to talk about your problems, then be honest with yourself as to why you feel this way. You might have to acknowledge and face some old ghosts by doing so, but it’s important to do real soul-searching to be able to understand yourself fully.
Do you feel that you need to talk about these issues?
Are you looking for advice on what to do if you don’t like talking about your problems because you have a sincere need to work through some deep-seated issues? Or are you being pressured to discuss aspects of yourself that you’d rather not get into?
If it’s a need that’s pressing on you, then that’s a good sign that there are things percolating inside you that are ready to be worked through.
In contrast, if other people are pressuring you to talk about your issues, then it’s a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself why. What are their motivations? Why do you HAVE to talk about your problems? Why is this a necessity? Analyze where they’re coming from.
Can you trust that these people sincerely have your best interests at heart? Or are they curious and trying to learn more about you? If so, why? Are these the types of people who want information on others in order to have power over them? Or do they have so little going on in their own lives that they feel the need to intrude into others?
We’re currently immersed in a social model in which people are pressured to continually talk about the problems they’re struggling with – often in an open forum. What used to be considered “TMI” (too much information) is now normalcy, and what used to be normal human experience is now considered to be a maelstrom of trauma and victimhood.
Opening up about the stuff you’re dealing with isn’t always the healthiest or most sensible option. If it’s something that’s weighing on you heavily, then sure, it needs to be addressed. But if it’s something relatively minor, then it can be better to be a bit more stoic and work through it on your own rather than pouring more energy into it than it needs.
Ask yourself whether these are real problems, or merely irritations.
The first thing to address is to ask yourself whether the issues you’re struggling with are actual problems.
Are you weighed down by these issues on a constant basis?
Are they interfering with your ability to function?
Would your life change significantly if these issues were no longer around?
Or is there a lack of other things going on in your life so you’re fixating on something that could possibly be construed as a problem in order to have a sense of purpose?
This may sound harsh, but it does need to be addressed.
On one end of the spectrum, there are some people who have been through a lot of awful things and need to talk about what’s destroying them on the inside. Meanwhile, at the other end of the line, there are people who have been through some crap or are struggling with some minor issues, and keep chewing on them rather than working through them. As such, they make it so that their entire identity revolves around what they’ve gone through.
Think of people who have “X Survivor” in their social media profiles. They’ve made their problems their entire personalities. They can’t get over or move past the labels and banners they decide to live by. Their experiences end up dictating who they are as individuals rather than something they’ve experienced. Ultimately, they’ve refused to move on because of the attention they’re getting, or because they’re comfortable wallowing where they are.
As you’re considering who to talk to about your problems, be incredibly real with yourself as to whether these problems deserve a ton of energy and attention. Examine your own motivations for discussing them, as well as when it was that these issues started to weigh on you. Some people are greatly influenced by their social circles, and don’t realize that they actually have problems until they are surrounded by people who talk about theirs 24/7.
Carefully consider who to open up to when you’re ready.
A lot of people are hesitant to open up about their problems because they feel shame about them, or they’re afraid of how others might react to them. Also, they might have learned quite early that expressing oneself openly creates a vulnerability which can then be misused by malicious or unbalanced people.
There are few feelings as horrible as opening up to someone you thought you could trust, only to have the things you talked about thrown back in your face later on. Or spread around like gossip when and if that relationship degraded.
First and foremost, the best person to open up to is yourself. You may have tried to shy away from the things that have been bothering you for a long time, maybe distracting yourself with games, addictions, sex, TV, who knows what. Take some time to sit and do some introspective meditation.
You can start keeping a journal that you know nobody will ever look through. Writing down all the things you’re feeling can help you work through them to find out where they stemmed from. Just make sure to keep this in a place nobody will ever be able to access. If you use a paper journal, keep it in a safe or lockbox. If it’s on your computer, make the file password protected.
You may be surprised to discover how much you can work through on your own, provided that you’re honest with yourself and not running away from your own thoughts. A lot of people try to drown out their thoughts and feelings with entertainment, uncomfortable sitting alone in silence because of unwanted thoughts that encroach.
Try facing these thoughts and working with them instead of running from them.
If this causes you more grief and anxiety rather than relief, then yeah – it’s a good idea to talk to someone else about it.
You could try talking to friends or family about what you’re going through, but it’s recommended that you choose a therapist to help you through this stuff instead.
Find a therapist you feel comfortable with.
Talking to a therapist instead of a friend or partner might seem counterintuitive to you, and you may wonder why we’re suggesting such a thing. There are actually some good reasons why talking to a professional is preferable to opening up to someone in your circle.
For example, a person who has experienced sexual trauma in their past might worry that their partner will perceive them differently or not know how to behave with them if they found out. In a similar vein, a person who’s working through difficulties regarding life changes they want to make – anything from a career change to transitioning gender – might come up against resistance, resentment, and arguments from their friends and family members.
This is why finding professional help is of the utmost importance. When you find a therapist or counselor you feel comfortable with, you’ll have a confidant and guide whom you can trust completely. This person will never judge you, but instead can listen to everything you’ve been through in an emotionally detached, impartial manner. Furthermore, they’ll be able to offer guidance and support when you decide which direction you’d like to take in order to move forward.
Working with a therapist can also be ideal for maintaining healthy friendships and relationships.
It can be incredibly draining and wearing on personal relationships if one party seems as though they’re using the other as a therapist on a regular basis. Instead of an equal give and take between friends (or partners), one feels like they’re carrying the load while the other is dumping their emotional burdens on them. They might not be able to offer impartial advice, and furthermore, they’ll be expected to pull double duty as both friend and counselor.
It’s difficult for anyone to role-switch at the best of times, but it’s unfair to expect those closest to us to help us work through deep-seated issues one moment, and then go back to “normal” interactions the next. The things we confide in with those closest to us will inevitably affect the interpersonal dynamics, and we can’t expect or prefer that they won’t.
If you do choose to talk to your friends or partner(s) about what’s bothering you, that’s absolutely okay too. The key here is to find someone you’re most comfortable opening up to, and who also has the bandwidth to process what it is you’re going through.
We recommend the online therapy available at BetterHelp.com. You can talk about your problems in a safe and constructive environment with someone who is entirely impartial. You can access this service wherever you are in the world via video, phone, or instant message at a time to suit you.
Click here to learn more about this service or to talk to someone now.
How to start talking about your problems.
To expand upon what we just mentioned, you probably have a few people in your life who have told you that they’re always there for you if you need or want to talk to them about anything.
Of course, it’s also important to have a backup plan. Those you want to confide in might not be available to you when you need them. They might be the ideal people for you to open up to, but if they’re dealing with a sudden family death, that’s not the time for you to show up on their doorstep needing a shoulder.
The best thing you can do in a situation like this is to broach the subject with them first, in a straightforward fashion. Something like:
“Hey, I’m going through some stuff right now. When you’re free, I would value your input and insight on this. And please be honest and let me know if it gets to be too much. I don’t want to be a drain or a burden on you when I’m venting.”
If they’re cool with it and give you the go-ahead, then you have free rein to open up.
Of course, now that you know you can talk about what’s troubling you, you might not know where to start.
Best thing to do in a situation like this is to be honest about that too. Tell the person there’s a lot going on and you’re not sure where to begin. Whether they’re a professional therapist or a good friend, chances are they can ask you some leading questions. Whether it’s them asking these questions or you initiating the conversation, these are some of the points you can start with:
- What is weighing on you the most heavily? (Basically, what do you want to talk about the most?)
- How have you been feeling physically?
- Are you having trouble sleeping? Concentrating?
- Are you eating enough? Or too much?
- Have you been able to put time and effort towards the things you love? Or have you lost your love for these things?
- Are the issues you’re struggling with interfering with your daily ability to function?
These questions can help to open doors about the problems you’re dealing with and can give you the opportunity to pinpoint what it is you’re feeling, and how you want to work through it.
Remember that timing is everything.
When it comes to opening up about your problems, it’s important to remember that you are not the center of anyone else’s universe. Sure, it’s great to have people in your life who you know you can open up to, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be in sync with you when you’re ready to open up.
This is why it’s important to assess your choice in whom you’re talking to and where that person’s head is at that particular moment. Remember that everyone else in your life is also dealing with a ton of their own life responsibilities, difficulties, etc. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to check in with them first before launching into everything you’re going through.
Be careful about approaching people via the phone. We’ve gotten into the habit of expecting others to be available whenever we want, but we can’t see what’s going on in another’s life when we text them.
This is also why it’s so important to have backup people to talk with, especially therapists and counselors. That way, if one person isn’t available for you if and when you’re in full-on crisis mode, others will be.
How to cope when people in your life don’t respond in a helpful way.
Opening up to people about our problems can be difficult on many levels. First off, if we’ve become accustomed to keeping things to ourselves all the time, then those closest to us have gotten to know us as fairly quiet and stoic when it comes to personal stuff.
The relationships we’ve developed with them have been based on the facets we’ve chosen to share with them. As such, suddenly showing an entirely different facet can throw off the balance that’s been created.
This has one of two potential outcomes: it can either make a relationship closer because you’re bonding over important personal stuff, or it can alienate people.
They might feel uncomfortable finding out things about you that they didn’t expect, especially if these are things they find disconcerting in general. Or they could feel other emotions such as shock, betrayal, hurt, etc. It all depends on the subject matter being discussed.
If you’re telling a parent that one of their siblings molested you as a child, they’re going to be torn between feeling compassion for you, as well as both protective of and betrayed by their sibling. Meanwhile they’ll also feel like they failed you as a parent, and they might feel angry at you for making them feel all these emotions.
Though this is a worst-case scenario, it’s important to be braced for this sort of possibility. Similar issues might arise if you open up to close friends about being transgender or tell your partner that you’ve been struggling with mental health issues and have to change the relationship dynamic.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that these people are totally supportive, or you might have your world crumble around you due to their own fears and emotional upheaval. It’s not unusual for those closest to us to want things to remain the same, and to lash out when others hit them with big, unexpected information.
This is why it’s so important to have a backup plan in place.
Have a therapist you can turn to, and a safe place to go if you need to get away for a little while. Consider keeping a bag packed with clothes and money at a friend’s or relative’s place, and a plan for getting there quickly and easily.
When you brace for the worst, anything better than that will be a godsend. Either way, know that you’re strong enough to get through these issues, and there will always be people to help you through them.
Whether you choose to talk about your problems or not is up to you. If you do want to open up, know that there are always people available to help you through whatever you’re going through. You’re not alone, and never will be.
Again, we recommend connecting with a therapist to talk about your problems and your reluctance to open up about them with others. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
You may also like:
- How To Vent To Someone When You Really Need To
- How To Ask For Help Without Feeling Awkward Or Burdensome
- How To Express Your Feelings In Words
- How To Deal With Shame: The Process For Overcoming It