Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story
There’s more to the age-old advice to just “talk it out” than there seems. Here’s some of the evidence that explains why it is so helpful.
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.(Video) How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
By Eric Ravenscraft
When your car breaks down, you either know how to fix it or how to find someone who can. Emotions, on the other hand, are a little harder to fix. There is no wrench you can grab or repair shop you can take your feelings to. But you do have one tool in your kit you can always use: talking about your feelings. Even just speaking about your feelings out loud to another person can help. So why do we avoid it or believe it doesn’t work?
There are a lot of reasons talking about our problems can be difficult. Some people (especially men) are socialized to internalize feelings, rather than give voice to them. Sometimes the very emotions you’re dealing with — like guilt over something you did, or shame about how you think you’re perceived — can feel so overwhelming that you can’t get up the motivation to talk it out.
Regardless of the reason you might keep it in, talking has powerful psychological benefits that might not be obvious. “Talking about it” is a broad phrase, though, so let’s clarify a bit. When we discuss talking about your problems, it can take a few forms.
Venting to a trusted friend. Sometimes you just need to let out how you’re feeling with no real plan for a solution. “I had the worst day at work!” can be the start of a conversation that helps you process the stress of a hard day.
Discussing a conflict with a partner. Fights happen in relationships. But keeping your feelings to yourself can cause issues between you and your partner to fester. While working toward constructive solutions to your relationship problems is always a good thing, just being able to be open about your feelings with your partner can make your communication healthier as well.
Talk therapy with a licensed therapist. There’s a reason people will pay money to talk through problems with a therapist. Whether you need to discuss a mental illness you’re struggling with, are in couples counseling to work on your relationship or just need someone to talk to who knows how to handle stress, a good therapist can help you hash out your emotions.
Being open about your struggles. Sometimes venting to no one in particular can help not just you, but others as well. For example, in 2015 Sammy Nickalls, a writer, started the social media hashtag #TalkingAboutIt to encourage people to be open about their struggles with mental illness. The act of sharing what daily life is like can help you and others with the same struggles realize that you’re not alone and that what feels overwhelming is actually normal.(Video) How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam
What all of these forms have in common is that they are conversations specifically designed to examine and express the emotions you are having, rather than building to a specific solution. Figuring out things you can do to improve your situation is certainly good, but just verbalizing how you’re feeling can, itself, be part of the solution as well.
Why does talking about it help?
Getting a new job, breaking up with a bad partner or investing in your own self-improvement are all practical things you can do to solve problems in your life. But what good does just talking about it do? When you’re fighting the exhausting uphill battle against your own negative feelings, it can seem as if talking about it is the least productive thing you can do.
In reality, your brain and body get a lot out of talking.
When you are feeling very intense feelings — especially fear, aggression or anxiety — your amygdala is running the show. This is the part of the brain that, among other things, handles your fight or flight response. It is the job of the amygdala, and your limbic system as a whole, to figure out if something is a threat, devise a response to that threat if necessary, and store the information in your memory so you can recognize the threat later. When you get stressed or overwhelmed, this part of your brain can take control and even override more logical thought processes.
Research from U.C.L.A. suggests that putting your feelings into words — a process called “affect labeling” — can diminish the response of the amygdala when you encounter things that are upsetting. This is how, over time, you can become less stressed over something that bothers you. For example, if you got in a car accident, even being in a car immediately afterward could overwhelm you emotionally. But as you talk through your experience, put your feelings into words and process what happened, you can get back in the car without having the same emotional reaction.
Research from Southern Methodist University suggested that writing about traumatic experiences or undergoing talk therapy had a positive impact on a patient’s health and immune system. The study argues that holding back thoughts and emotions is stressful. You have the negative feelings either way, but you have to work to repress them. That can tax the brain and body, making you more susceptible to getting sick or just feeling awful.
None of that is to say that talking about your problems, or even talk therapy with a licensed therapist, will automatically fix everything and immediately make you happy and healthy. But, like eating better and exercising, it can contribute to overall improvement in your well-being. More important, it can help you understand how and why you feel the way you do, so you can handle your emotions more effectively in the future.
How can we do it better?
Crucially, not every form of talking about problems aloud can help. In fact, multiple studies examining college students, young women and working adults suggest that co-rumination — or consistently focusing on and talking about negative experiences in your life — can have the opposite effect, making you more stressed and drawing out how long a problem bothers you. To talk about your problems more constructively, there are a few key things you can do.
Choose the right people to talk to. If you’ve ever talked about how you’re feeling and it seems as if you got nothing out of it, you might be talking to the wrong person. Having a trusted friend who will support you (without enabling bad habits like co-rumination) can help. If you need specific advice on a problem, find someone who has faced similar problems and, ideally, has resolved them. And if you need a lot of talk time, try spreading your conversations out to multiple people. One person can get worn out, and having a broad social support system lets you distribute that load.
Choose the right time to talk. Just as important as choosing who to talk to is when you talk to them. Your friends may want to support you, but they have their own lives. Asking if they have the time and energy to talk before unpacking your emotional bags can help you both be better equipped for the conversation. This also means being courteous about their time. Sometimes crises happen and you might need to interrupt someone, but most supportive conversations can wait.
Find a therapist, even if you’re not mentally ill. Therapists often have a reputation for being necessary only if you have a mental illness. This isn’t the case. You can go to therapy if you are feeling overly stressed, if you are not sleeping well or if you just want someone to talk to. Think of it less like seeing a doctor and more like a personal trainer. Also, remember that just as with doctors, mechanics or anyone else you hire, there are good ones and bad ones (or bad ones for you), so if you don’t have success the first time, try someone else.
Give yourself an endpoint. Not all conversations about your problems need to lead to a plan of action for tangible change, but they do need to lead to something other than more complaining. Give yourself space to vent about your feelings and, while doing so, focus on how you are feeling throughout the process. If you are getting more worked up, take a break. If you find yourself talking about the same things over and over without gaining any new understanding or feeling any relief, try something else to process how you are feeling. You may not be able to fix the external problem that is bothering you, but the goal should at least be to improve your mood about it.
Talk about the good as well as the bad. Expressing how you’re feeling is healthy. Expressing yourself only when you feel bad isn’t. Whether you are talking to friends, partners or on social media, be sure to share your good experiences and feelings when they come up. Talking about these experiences can reinforce them in your brain and make it easier to break out of negative thought patterns later. Plus, it helps build your relationships with the people you are close enough to talk to.
Of course, this process can still be messy. Some days, talking about your problems may just be complaining about something that happened at work, but others it may involve crying into someone’s shoulder for an hour. It can feel embarrassing or uncomfortable the first few times, but the more you open up, the easier it will get to share how you feel.
Continue reading the main story
Why talking about your problems helps so much and how do you do it? ›
Talking about your problems can release pent-up feelings. Talking to someone outside of the situation may help you to find a solution to the problem. If you don't think you can discuss the problem with anyone you know, you can call a confidential telephone counselling service.Why does talking about your problems help? ›
Experts say that talking can provide stress relief, and can lighten the load of a concern someone might be having. Talking about a problem can help to start breaking it into smaller parts, which can stop you from feeling so overwhelmed.Why talking about your feelings is important? ›
No matter how you feel — good or bad — it helps to put your feelings into words. Talking about feelings can help you feel close to people who care. It can help you feel better when you're sad or scared. Putting feelings into words helps you use self-control when you feel mad or upset.Why does talking about my problems make me feel worse? ›
When faced by others who talk more, bring up issues and new ideas, while discussing feelings, we feel very vulnerable and out of control. We become fearful that talking will only cause more problems and that others may leave us if we discuss issues of upsets, hurts, feelings, and problems of any type.Does talking to yourself about your problems help? ›
Self-talk is a healthy way to build motivation, calm nerves or analyze a tricky situation. “It's a useful way to check in with yourself and organize thoughts and feelings,” says health psychologist Grace Tworek, PsyD.Why do you think it is important for us to solve the problems impact? ›
Problem-solving enables us to identify and exploit opportunities in the environment and exert (some level of) control over the future. Problem solving skills and the problem-solving process are a critical part of daily life both as individuals and organizations.Why do I feel better after talking about my problems? ›
Studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress (Pennebaker, Kiecolt-Glaser, & Glaser, 1988).Why is it good to face your problems? ›
Facing challenges and navigating one's way through them builds resilience capacity. Knowing that one can overcome obstacles, learn from struggles and benefit from mistakes lays a solid foundation for success in later life.What is it called when you talk to someone about your problems? ›
Therapy is sometimes called psychotherapy or talk therapy.What happens when you don't talk about your feelings? ›
By hiding your emotions, you prevent clear communication with the people in your life. This lack of communication makes it tough to navigate conflict. When you can't work through problems, they'll probably keep happening.
Why does talking to someone help with stress? ›
Talking leads to a catharsis, which means a feeling of relief. The charged feelings within us become less charged. Nothing has changed that caused the suffering in our lives, but talking has drained off some of the pain and this brings relief.What are the benefits of verbalizing thoughts? ›
Verbalizing our feelings in socially appropriate places can have benefits. It can deepen our intimate relationships. It can also reduce our emotional reactivity. In the long term, our health and happiness will be enhanced by verbalizing emotions.Why do people not like to talk about their problems? ›
Some people (especially men) are socialized to internalize feelings, rather than give voice to them. Sometimes the very emotions you're dealing with — like guilt over something you did, or shame about how you think you're perceived — can feel so overwhelming that you can't get up the motivation to talk it out.Does thinking about a problem make it worse? ›
Plus, whether you're fixating on the past or catastrophizing about the future, thought patterns that are more destructive than constructive can take a toll on both your mental health and physical health. "Studies show that ruminating on stressful events can, over time, lead to anxiety and depression," warns Dr.What is trauma dumping? ›
Trauma dumping: With trauma dumping, you overshare difficult or intimate personal information without the other person's consent or during inappropriate times. You don't consider how your words impact the listener, and you're not open to advice or solutions.How do you benefit from talking to yourself? ›
It helps us organise our thoughts, plan actions, consolidate memory and modulate emotions. In other words, it helps us control ourselves.Does talking to yourself improve? ›
Talking to yourself is a healthy, widespread tendency among children and adults. Research suggests the practice supplies a bevy of benefits, from improved mental performance to greater emotional control. Self-talk is most beneficial when it combines thought and action or reinforces an instructional framework.Why do we need to be aware with the problems of the society? ›
It is very necessary that people have this ability for the development of a society. People with more social awareness can bring changes to each and every sector that requires change. Be it poverty or climate change, every problem of today can be resolved by a population which is socially aware.What are some important problems to be solved in the modern world? ›
- #1. Poverty. ...
- #2. Climate change. ...
- #3. Food insecurity. ...
- #4. Refugee rights. ...
- #5. COVID-19. ...
- #6. Future pandemic preparation and response. ...
- #7. Healthcare. ...
- #8. Mental health.
"In a problem-solution essay, the thesis statement usually proposes the solution. Because readers must first understand the problem, the thesis statement usually comes after a description of the problem. The thesis statement does not have to give details about the solution. Instead, it summarizes the solution.
Why do I always want to talk about my problems? ›
Many people lean into their problems and drama to feel important and more alive. Talking about their problems gives them something interesting to share in a conversation when they don't feel much else is going on in their lives.Why do I talk too much about my problems? ›
Rambling or excessive talking can show up with social anxiety. You fear saying the wrong thing or being judged by others, but you end up talking more than you intended in an effort to make up for your anxiety and help quiet the worries revolving around what others think of you.How do you release trapped emotions in your body? ›
Take time to slow down and be alone, get out into nature, make art, listen to music while you cook your favorite dinner, meditate to cleanse your mind and relax your body, take a bubble bath or a nap to restore.What is it called when you talk about everything? ›
Logorrhea (psychology) - Wikipedia.Why do some people never talk about their problems? ›
Some people (especially men) are socialized to internalize feelings, rather than give voice to them. Sometimes the very emotions you're dealing with — like guilt over something you did, or shame about how you think you're perceived — can feel so overwhelming that you can't get up the motivation to talk it out.Why do I keep thinking about my problems? ›
We are conditioned to trust that thinking solves problems, which is why we often can't stop thinking about something that bothers us. Rehashing our thoughts makes us feel like we are empathizing with our pain and honoring how much it hurts.How do I stop overtalking? ›
- Check their phone or watch.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Dart their gaze.
- Lean away or back up.
- Look bored.
- Turn their feet away from you.
Excessive talking is when a person talks compulsively or excessively. Reasons that someone may talk excessively include mental health disorders, personality characteristics, and personality disorders. Excessive talking can create a social burden for both the talking person and their listeners.Do problems really make you stronger? ›
As you bear challenges, you become stronger and stronger. Challenges are the superb chance for growth. They take a look at your resolve and commitment to your goals. And after you overcome them, you develop emotional and mental strength.Do problems make you stronger? ›
Psychologists say traumatic events can make you stronger physically and mentally. Research shows people who lived through post-traumatic growth report positive changes in their relationships with others, a better appreciation of life, and new possibilities in life. There's a benefit to overcoming adversity.
Why do problems come in life? ›
In the journey of life, a person always has to carry a bag of difficulties together. This is the law of nature and no one can change it. Difficulties are the cornerstone of life, without difficulties human life cannot be built. But the man never thinks about these problems and should not think too.