Life can be lonely...
Most of us go through life in screensaver-mode with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. Go to work. All actions are basically a means for survival. We seldom have real human moments. We are never really seen nor do we truly see others. So when we ask each other how we are doing, the response “I am fine” is said as mechanically as one offers “bless you” after a sneeze.
59% of people expect others to lie when we ask them how they are feeling...
The average adult will say "I'm fine" 14 times a week, though just 19% really mean it.
- UK Mental Health Foundation
So what's the big deal? What's wrong with saying you are fine when you aren’t?
It deprives you of the opportunity to sort through your feelings
Talking through things that are occupying your thoughts helps you to clarify and sort things out in your mind. Vocalising your thoughts, even when you don’t have a clear understanding of your emotions, makes them less scary.
At minimum - by having to sort through your feelings you know a bit more about what you’re dealing with. Keeping things inside only lets them build up and can get confusing.
It obstructs your perspective of the bigger picture
Being personally involved in a situation often results in one being too close to the issue to see the bigger picture. That's why it's important to talk to someone who is removed from the situation and can offer a different viewpoint.
If you've been keeping things to yourself - a situation can seem more overwhelming than it actually is. We tend to make things bigger than they really are, and that makes them impossible to start to fix. The person you tell might help you see the situation in a different perspective and might have solutions you haven't thought of.
Not talking causes tension
Often we are not taught how to acknowledge our feelings, but how to block and avoid them - and also how to turn them unto other things, like:
- Alcohol abuse
- Prescription drugs
- Screen time
- Social media addiction
We are really good at blinding ourselves and covering our feelings. When we eventually do acknowledge our feelings, we box them away with sayings like, “mind over matter,” “get a grip” and “suck it up.” All things that were reinforced in us through our upbringings.
Disregarding emotions are harmful to our mental and physical health. It’s like pressing on the accelerator and brakes of your car at the same time, creating an internal pressure cooker.
Symptoms like anxiety and depression can stem from the way we deal with these underlying, automatic, hard-wired survival emotions, which are biological forces that should not be ignored. You’d be amazed at what a release it can be to get things off your chest. Your muscles can relax a bit, and you can literally feel like a weight has been lifted. Feeling good physically makes you feel better mentally. That is why finding someone to talk to, be it a professional or an acquaintance is of the utmost importance for our overall well-being.
Deciding who to talk to
Deciding who you want to talk to is an important first step. The possibilities include:
- Close friends (who might relate to what you’re going through)
- Family members (who can sometimes give you great support)
- Teachers or youth workers (who are often good listeners and trained to deal with loads of issues)
- Or a counsellor who’s outside the situation (sometimes the best plan).
Whoever you choose, you need to trust them and feel comfortable opening up to them. Just as opening up to the right person must facilitate healing, telling all of your secrets and insecurities to the wrong person may do more harm to you than keeping it to yourself would have. People do not come with “I am untrustworthy” signs written on them, so the burden rests on you to figure out who is worthy of your confidence.
Trust... but verify!
Opening up requires you to be vulnerable and honest with yourself and the people around you. It is not easy, but it is necessary if you would like to get a handle on your mental health.
Be brave today - you might show someone else that it is ok to open up.
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