Every day I meet people that have struggled in silence. They have endured hardship, often for many years before summoning up the courage to confront their difficulties. In a world that is becoming increasingly tolerant and open to the notion that it is good to talk, why are the majority of us so reluctant to do so? Why is it so tough for us to talk about our problems?
It is of no surprise that we generally do not feel comfortable in revealing issues that make us feel vulnerable. Whoever we are and wherever we are from, this is a commonality that we all share. Whilst our reluctance stems from many different causes, unique to our individual experiences, it almost always comes down the following factors: –
- Shame: People who have suffered trauma, abuse or assault, often feel a sense of overwhelming shame. This sense of shame prevents them from coming forward to the police or to medical professionals, even after instances of rape or attack. Shame is a complex emotion and can often feel impossible to overcome. If you are experiencing shame, particularly following a traumatic experience, seek support right away.
- Guilt: If you are feeling guilty, ask yourself, is what you are experiencing your fault? If yes, acknowledge the guilt that you harbour and forgive yourself for it. If the answer is no, tell yourself each day that it is not your fault. Let it be an affirmation for you, loud and clear moving forward until you start to believe it.
- Anger: Few of us use our anger productively. It is a tricky emotion as it is an automatic response to any source of stress or anxiety. Anger can be looked upon as a signal. It is telling us that something is not right. However, most of us experience anger without knowing the true source of it. Often an overpowering emotion, it can feel incredibly difficult to reflect on the real issues lurking beneath. Counselling is a helpful method to confront your anger constructively, so as to better understand the root cause, as well as learn to channel it in a way that serves you moving forwards.
- Denial: Why confront your problems when you can mask them, even to yourself? A certified way to cope with stress is to deny it at all costs. This may well be a short term solution, however, rest assured it will catch up with you down the line. This issue often arises in terms of health. For example, loved ones may attempt to talk to a family member or friend about a weight issue or specific, damaging lifestyle choices that they are making. At the heart of denial is often fear. If somebody tells you that you are in denial, listen to them. Ask yourself if this is true. Take the time to self-reflect, openly and honestly with yourself.
- Fear of judgement or dismissal: So frequently do we concern ourselves with what others will think about our actions, our successes or lack thereof, that we shut down, fearful of any potential negative responses that may come our way. Indeed, the perception of others is a common theme that runs through most of our troubles. Dismissal or rejection can also feel incredibly painful and prevent us from confiding in others. If you are suffering with these fears it is likely that you are experiencing low self-worth. It is important that you take the time to invest in some self-care and begin to prioritise yourself before anybody else. The therapy process can also assist you in boosting your inner confidence as well as tackling your concerns within a professional environment of trust.
There are many instances in which over time, these emotions can greatly affect our capacity to function in everyday life. Ultimately, what is stopping us from talking are nothing more than natural, physiological responses to experiences of turmoil. It is perfectly normal to feel shame, guilt, anger, denial or fear from time to time.
Being more open
If these are the collective emotions that prevent us from being able to talk openly about our issues, it makes sense that we must prioritise self-acceptance during times of difficulty. Self-acceptance is a vital endeavour because it entails personal reflection of your own experience, through your own eyes. Self-acceptance means acknowledging to yourself, that you are good enough and that you are strong enough to cope with whatever it is that you are facing. It also means that you acknowledge the truth and validity of your experience, beyond your own doubts or fears and certainly beyond the opinions of others.
Confront the fear or the emotion that is causing you pain. Do not suffer alone or in silence. If you need help, confide in a trusted friend or family member. Visit a doctor or a mental health professional.
Wishing you good mental health and happiness,