“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.” – Brene Brown.
In these times of the Covid-19 virus and massive restrictions impacting upon our lives and, indeed, as a former psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, I see that one of the most difficult aspects for anyone in emotional difficulty is to disclose that personal difficulty.
Whatever we may be dealing with, there may be a significant fear of judgement about saying ‘I’m having a tough day.”, “I’m not coping.” and even “I need help.” Indeed, far easier to remain silent or to console someone else in difficulty, than to share something that reveals a ‘weakness’, right? Stay out of the spotlight, so to speak.
I believe that holding on to your personal difficulty, for fear of feeling a sense of shame, is actually far more difficult, in practice, than disclosing an uncomfortable truth. You see, holding on to a difficulty means that there is little opportunity for progress or resolution. By retaining it, we risk not progressing our difficulty. In fact, while the difficulty remains, it may also worsen. Suffering continues. We are more likely to feel alone. We may also miss an opportunity to learn and to grow. Thoughts and emotions can increasingly become distorted or amplified.
Some people see talking about their problem or difficulty as a weakness. Some people feel that there must be something ‘lesser’ about them and so feel increasing inadequacy. I believe that taking a risk to describe your difficulty with others is not only a sign of bravery, but that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable is a sign of strength. After all, if something is easy, would it really have any value? Is it not the things that challenge us, that have real meaning and worth?
In my career as a psychotherapist, and one who has run many couples, family and group therapy sessions, I can attest to the fact that the more people learn to speak openly and with their truth, the more people learn to let go of fear, anxiety, low self-worth, low self-confidence and the more we let go of things that might ordinarily serve to divide us.
In fact, the members of a support group or support community become kinder, less judgemental and more accepting of difference and personal challenge; focusing instead on what connects us to each other, rather than on what may divide us. This offers a person making a personal disclosure a sense of acknowledgement and validation; something so important. If only we could all simply adopt this way of living with each other in society, right?
It starts with you. The reader of this article. Take that risk. Share. Let someone know what life is really like. Tell someone what you struggle with. Maybe even ask for help? There is no better time than during this global pandemic. These are difficult days and history will look back with the same wonder and awe at how we coped, as we do when we look back at the Spanish Influenza Pandemic or when we consider the era of The Black Death.
You may be surprised how willing people are to truly hear you and how willing someone may be to offer support and friendship. That doesn’t mean you can ‘dump’ your problems on others and expect them to ‘fix it’ for you. It means letting someone walk with you along your road, as you find your way forward. It means no longer feeling alone. Maybe start by telling someone “I’m not okay right now.” You could say “Can I have your opinion on something, please?.”
Opportunity to ask for help may seem limited, since we are not all able to go out, due to being in lockdown, while the virus situation persists. That said, we can send a text, a photo of us looking sad or even just an emoji expressing an emotion. We can arrange to grab a cuppa and sit at our computers or phones and have a chat or a video chat.
Please, tell someone you are in difficulty. You are not alone. There is help.
If you start that conversation, let me know how it goes.
(C) Deano Parsons. 2021.