November 7, 2014

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Why Opening Up isn’t Always Best.


I consider myself to be a pretty open person, at least when it comes to writing about a variety of personal issues, like my struggles with depression, past romantic relationships or my less-than-ideal relationship with my parents.

However, in real life, it can be hard for me to open up.

Sometimes, I wish it were easier.

While I know, logically, a lot of that has to do with trust issues, sometimes a lot of it has to do with a gut feeling that it just isn’t the right time or the right person to open up to.

Surprisingly, more often than not my gut has been right.

While it’s true that no one is an island and support is vital especially during challenging times or times of huge transition, it is important to know who we can trust to give us the support and love we need, or whether they’re the people I dub “unintentional rubberneckers.”

I use the word “unintentional” because I don’t think these people are often aware of it—-they operate with the best intentions in mind. However, they are the kind of people who thrive on drama, whether it be in their lives or someone else’s.

Surprisingly or maybe unsurprisingly, I’ve encountered more than a few of these types in the mind/body community. The difference between a person like this and a true friend is that they truly aren’t interested in us. Rather, their main interest in themselves.

Often times, they may even share things we thought were confidential with others. (Speaking as someone who has experienced this, I can honestly say that few things feel worse especially when we are already vulnerable to begin with.)

Yet another reason is a surprisingly simple one and has nothing to do with a fear of being betrayed or the ulterior motives of others: we don’t want to open up.

While it’s certainly good that we are no longer a culture where we feel compelled to sweep things under the rug and sharing is encouraged, there is such a thing as oversharing. While it’s up to each of us to determine what constitutes as oversharing, we should not feel we have to open up just because we are asked what is wrong.

Sometimes when we suffer a truly earth-shattering event, like an unexpected death or abandonment, we need to try and make sense of what has happened before we can even begin to think about sharing it with others.

Plus, there are a few things that probably should be kept only to ourselves or perhaps between ourselves and trained professionals.

And while again, it’s up to each individual to make that determination for themselves, we need to be reminded that there is no shame in not talking now or ever. We need not even explain why. A simple, “Thank you for caring, but I would rather not talk about it” is simple, polite, and to the point.

In any case, one thing to consider is that if we choose not to share now, we can always do so later whereas the reverse is not true.

Lest said soonest mended is an old expression but one that may nevertheless be true even in modern times.

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Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Clement/Flickr

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