In a world that encourages open dialogue and vulnerability, many are still reluctant to talk about their problems.
The reasons are as complex and diverse as the individuals themselves, often touching on a combination of social, cultural, and personal factors.
Still, the importance of communication and talking about your problems can’t be understated.
Sometimes you need an outside perspective to better understand the problem you’re experiencing.
Sometimes your mental health may worsen if you don’t talk about your problems.
Furthermore, there isn’t a problem in this world that someone else hasn’t already experienced.
Choosing the right person to talk to can get you to a solution much faster. Of course, you won’t know that unless you talk about it.
If you want to feel freer to discuss issues you are facing, you need to understand why you don’t want to in the first place.
Here are 14 common reasons you can’t talk about your problems, according to psychology.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist if you can’t talk about your problems with friends, family, or anyone you know. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. You are affected by social or cultural stigma.
Your social groups and culture affect the way you interact with others.
In some social groups, you simply don’t speak about your problems or mental health, as venting is viewed as complaining.
Mental health difficulties are seen as a character flaw rather than a problem that you may need help with.
“What? You can’t handle your own life? I guess you’re not a real man. Suck it up and deal with it, cupcake.”
Furthermore, certain cultures view mental health as something private to be kept within the family. It may be discussed within those family circles but bringing outsiders into “the family’s business” is not permitted.
2. You lack communication skills.
Not everyone is good at communication.
Some people stumble over their words, whilst others struggle to verbalize their emotions. They want to communicate; they just can’t.
Others have difficulty reading social situations well, so they choose the wrong time, or the wrong confidante, and get shut down by the person that they think will listen.
If you are autistic or experience social anxiety, it can further complicate matters by making you feel overwhelmed when you have to express yourself.
3. You don’t like showing vulnerability.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be a difficult thing.
You may want to talk about your problems but feel like you can’t because the other person could use your problems against you at some point.
Maybe it won’t be today, but it could be tomorrow.
Sadly, this is a valid fear. For as much society tells us to talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, there aren’t nearly as many people who can handle what you tell them with true compassion and empathy.
4. You don’t want to push people away.
Few people want to be the moaner.
It could be that you want to open up and talk about your problems, but you don’t because you’ve already talked about them before.
Perhaps you’ve talked about your problems multiple times already. At some point, you just get tired of speaking about it, or maybe you realize that talking about it doesn’t fix it.
You may not want to talk about your problems at all given recent social media pushes to avoid trauma dumping.
For example, if you’re broke and it’s deeply affecting you, talking about it and lamenting the situation isn’t going to do a great deal of good.
Granted, some people may feel better after venting their frustrations, but it does get old if it’s all you ever talk about.
5. You don’t want to be a burden.
Everyone has problems, we all know that.
This knowledge can make it hard to reach out without feeling like a burden, especially if we perceive other people’s problems to be greater than our own.
This act of what seems like empathy can actually make things worse for both of you, though.
You may end up feeling isolated and alone, and your friend or loved one who wants to be there for you despite their own troubles may feel like they aren’t.
Withholding your problems in this way can therefore prevent you from developing a supportive and compassionate relationship.
6. You’re afraid of being judged.
A fear of judgment and the social rejection that goes with it, causes many people to avoid doing what they want to do.
You may feel as though other people won’t take you seriously, that they’ll treat you like you’re weak, or try to make you feel small about your problems.
In fairness, people can be judgmental jerks at times. So this fear is reasonable if you know your friends or family have a habit of being holier-than-thou.
Therapists, on the other hand, typically aren’t. This means they can be a great place to offload without fear of judgment.
7. You have trust issues.
Perhaps you simply don’t trust other people.
It could be that you don’t trust them to give good advice, which is fair. Or that you don’t trust them not to talk about your business behind your back, which is also fair.
Some people just can’t seem to keep private matters private.
But sometimes, those trust issues aren’t what they seem to be.
It could be that your trust issues are unreasonably driven by things that have happened in the past. And that you are now projecting your previous negative experiences onto perfectly trustworthy friends or family.
8. You are a highly private person.
Do you prefer your privacy? Would you rather not air your dirty laundry in public?
Lots of people feel that way, and it’s perfectly understandable.
However, holding back in this way can hurt your ability to connect with others, find solutions, and grow as a person.
Sometimes, you have to take the risk and open up just a small part of your life to let others in.
Alternatively, perhaps you are an independent person who doesn’t feel the need to let people into your personal business. You may think that letting someone else in makes you needy or unable to handle your own problems.
But actually, in the right circumstances, accepting help is both brave and wise.
9. You have low self-esteem.
People with low self-esteem often feel like they don’t deserve support or care.
Perhaps you don’t want to be a burden because you feel like you aren’t worth other people’s time and energy.
Maybe you hide away your feelings to avoid drawing attention to yourself or to avoid causing problems for the people around you.
Or maybe you want support, but when it’s offered, you refuse it for fear of looking stupid.
Unfortunately, this approach only perpetuates low self-esteem further. The lack of support from others reinforces your belief that other people see you as unworthy too.
10. You are a perfectionist.
Perfectionism can cause problems in many areas of your life.
Not only is it disruptive to your ability to complete tasks, but it can also cause you to worry excessively about the way you look and come across to others.
If you want to maintain an external perception of perfection, you may not be comfortable opening up about your flaws and struggles.
You may not want other people to see what you consider to be an imperfection, and so you keep your problems to yourself.
11. You’ve been hurt by past experiences.
Past experiences can leave imprints on the decisions of today.
If you’ve opened up and been hurt by it before, you’ll be less likely to want to do it again.
If other people didn’t take you seriously previously, why would you want to do it again?
Past hurts can carry forward and can be hard to shake, even if you are in a healthier situation than you were before.
12. You’re ashamed of your problems or of needing help.
Shame is a powerful motivator that can stop you from taking healthy steps for yourself.
A person who is ashamed of their problems or of asking for help will have a much more difficult time opening up about their vulnerabilities.
It can be so difficult that it borders on terrifying.
What will they say? What will they think? Will they take you seriously? Will it make things worse? How do you even ask for help?
With these thoughts whirling around in your head, it’s no wonder you can’t open up and talk about your problems.
13. You experience cognitive distortions.
Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that shape how we perceive and interact with the world.
Filtering is one type of cognitive distortion. It can cause you to focus on all the negatives of talking about your problems instead of considering the positives. There may be more positives than negatives but still, you filter them out.
Discounting the positives is similar to filtering them out, but instead of ignoring them altogether, you consider them but deem them worthless.
You may look at every positive reason to talk about your problems and still decide that no, it’s not the right thing for you to do.
Other cognitive distortions that can affect your decision to talk about your problems (or not) include catastrophizing, blaming, and emotional reasoning to name but a few.
14. You are using unhealthy coping skills like avoidance.
Are you actively procrastinating and avoiding talking about your problems?
Many people choose avoidance so they don’t have to address their problems.
They are often in one of two groups. Either they know they are avoiding the problem and still do it anyway, or they believe that ignoring the problem will somehow make it easier to handle later on.
In truth, avoiding a problem usually only makes it worse.
You may think that the pain will go away by avoiding it. But when you don’t talk about your problems, other people might inadvertently end up making decisions that aren’t in your best interests.
Whatever the reasons, if you can’t talk about your problems with the people around you, that’s okay.
It’s often a better idea to talk about your problems with a certified therapist when you need to vent to someone.
The great thing about talking to a therapist is that there is no reason to fear your private business will become public.
They are beholden to secrecy (with a couple of caveats if they are concerned you or someone else is at serious risk of harm), which makes it much easier to speak frankly and freely to them about whatever you’re dealing with.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.