I don’t like talking about my problems. I’d rather help someone else process their worries than give myself time to sit down and figure out my personal concerns.
I’m OK anyway. I’m emotionally independent. Others need me more than I need them. They need someone to listen, I used to think.
Today, I realize that was one of the biggest lies I would tell myself — a big lie about me wondering if life was really worth living or I was better off gone.
Why We Don’t Talk About Our Problems
I’m not the only one struggling with opening up to other people. I’ve come across others who are like me: we’d rather listen about your day than have you listen to ours.
Some people think we are strong; there are others who consider us as “introverts” who aren’t big fans of expressing themselves, preferring to let others do the talking.
On the contrary, people don’t talk about their problems because:
- They are private in nature. The idea of others knowing what they’re going through makes them uncomfortable.
- They think people don’t understand. Depression and other facets of mental health are sensitive topics; some will get it while others can be dismissive. Instead of facing rejection, people would rather keep things to themselves.
- They have trust issues. Trust is a big deal when it comes to communication. Given the countless times I’ve confided in others and have them tell people who aren’t even involved, I’ve grown to distrust a lot of people. I’d rather keep it to myself than have a number of people around me know.
- They don’t like feeling vulnerable. Some people cringe at the thought of crying in front of a friend or a loved one. We fear showing others our vulnerable side because a) they might judge us, b) they won’t understand, or c) their perspective of us might change.
- They think they can handle their own problems. These individuals believe they are strong enough to deal with their challenges by themselves.
Apart from these reasons, I also feel like I don’t want to bother others with my concerns. I’m empathic, which means I can understand and share the feelings of others. I’m also sort of a people pleaser. Combine these two, and you have someone like me who refuses to bore people with three hours of just me blabbing about the pre-quarter life crisis I just went through.
Nope, I’d rather hear how your day went. I should be fine.
That’s what I thought.
Not Talking About Our Problems is a Problem
The problem with not talking about our problems is that the problem pile becomes so high, sweeping it under the rug just won’t work anymore. You’ll still see them, you’ll still think about them. The sinking problem will still be there and as time progresses, it will worsen.
Some people have the capacity to solve their problems on their own, and I applaud them. But if you’re like me — an emotional introvert who pretends she’s strong enough but not really — then Houston, we might have a problem.
People deal with pain differently. How you choose to do it is up to you, but just keeping all the pain inside will lead to a breakdown.
In my case, I reached a point where I couldn’t see light anymore. A wooden door stood between me and the possibility of just jumping and saying goodbye to everyone permanently. I was just fortunate enough to have that door shut, giving me time to re-think my actions.
But I can’t say the same for others.
We Should Open Up
One of the biggest lessons I re-learned in 2018 was that emotional support can make all the difference in the world — if I let certain people in.
Psychology Today compares being OK with talking about our problems to a trip to the dentist. We know the discomfort will stop once the dentist fixes our tooth, but we’re scared to go through the process because we know it will hurt. In terms of emotional issues, we are embarrassed to share or process our feelings with someone. We don’t want them to see us so vulnerable.
But we still need the comfort, validation, or assurance.
It’s important to find a person who listens and is nonjudgmental. It could be a loved one, a friend, or a professional (if it has reached that point). Just find someone to about your problems to, little by little. It might feel awkward at first, uncomfortable even. But once you’ve opened the door, you’ll find yourself feeling lighter.
Be Brave, and Try
After the countless disappointments in my life, I realized that I needed to be honest with people who understood. All this time, I thought I was sharing parts of myself but in reality, I was only showing them the parts of myself I’m comfortable with — the “shallow” sides. But apparently, that wasn’t enough to help me see another side of the problem, the bright side of things.
I started opening up honestly with people I knew I could trust. They weren’t a lot, but these people understood the place that I was coming from so that was enough. As embarrassing as it was, I forced myself to tell them everything: my struggles, my doubts, my fears.
To my surprise, these people were very understanding. Some of them even came from the same place as I did. They showed me different sides of my situations, offered encouragement, prayed for me, and gave me hope. These people showed me that I am not alone in the struggle and that just like them, and by God’s grace, I can overcome each problem one by one.
I realized that there will always be problems in our lives, but sometimes, we don’t have the capacity to deal with all of them. If we wallow on our own, it’s impossible to see the bright side. Talking with another person can give us a perspective that may save our lives.
Give your pain a voice by letting someone listen. Remember: you don’t have to deal with it on your own.
For guidance in finding clinical psychologists or psychiatrists, visit the Psychological Association of the Philippines website. For immediate help, call the following suicide prevention hotlines, which are open 24/7:
- (02) 804-HOPE (4673)
- 0917 558 HOPE (4673)