We all know it works, but many of us still won’t talk through a problem even when we are in crisis. I’m not saying we HAVE to talk. The pop psychology nostrum that “it’s always good to talk” is wrong. It isn’t always good. Talking when the time is right for the person with the problem can be helpful; that’s what this post is about.

To set out my stall

Talking in the right way, to the right sort of person, when the speaker chooses, can be helpful.

Talking in the wrong way, to the wrong person, can be harmful. 

So, who should you talk to, and what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ exactly? Read on and you’ll see.

Talking about our problems and sharing our worries with friends and family has been a source of relief for people for millenia. Research shows that simply talking about our worries and sharing our problems with someone we trust can be psychologically healing. It also reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and reduces physical and emotional distress.

However, be cautious about who you share your worries with. Conversations need to be constructive and with a positive outlook. The other person shouldn’t try to give advice, mainly they need to support you by listening without judging. 

Talk it through, when the time is right

This is how counsellors and psychotherapists work. They are not there to fix your problems. The activity is about you verbalising your thoughts, that’s the effective bit. It seems that when we speak out and share our worries, unconscious processes are at work that reorganise thinking and change our perspective.

There is no need to overdo this. Constant discussion or oversharing can simply lead to rehashing and reinforcing your worries. But an occasional chat with a wise person or a professional therapist can open up your thinking and give you a new and productive outlook. 

Above all, do not share your concerns with anyone who could minimise or dismiss your worries, and avoid anyone who might dramatise or impose their negativity on you.

You’ll know when the time is right but be aware that you may not feel comfortable at first if you decide to share your worrying thoughts with another. Some discomfort is normal with anything new, but don’t let that be an obstacle if you really need to talk it through.

See also The Talking Cure – Why It’s Good to Talk