During college, I lived with a great group of women. We all met our freshman year when we were living in a dorm and then moved into a house off campus together the next year. We were all in different majors, different sororities, and we were involved in different activities. And so we had a lot to talk about. We spent hours just sitting and talking. It’s probably one of the reasons so many of us make such great friends in college, right? There is great relationship building that happens through having large periods of time to just talk. And during this time, we often dug deep into the issues we were wrestling with and provided support to each other. And as I think back to this specific stage of life decades later, I realize it’s where I discovered just how good it feels to talk about my problems with my friends.
But now that I’m older and wiser, I often think – is it a good thing to talk about our problems? It’s definitely a balance, as with anything in life. But there are a few dangers or watch-outs that come along with it. So whether you’re somebody who tends to be the listener, or who needs a lot of different perspectives on your own problems, this blog post will resonate with you.
There are three reasons it can be detrimental to share our problems with others.
We may receive validation for something that we should actually be changing
Going back to my college example, we were probably less likely to tell each other what we actually needed to hear, and more likely to say that everything was going to be okay. You’re going to be fine, you’re doing great. And while we love how it feels to have someone validate us, it’s not always what we need. In fact, that validation can keep us stuck in the same loop – we believe we’re going to be okay, but then we’re right back in the same dynamic that wasn’t working.
We get temporary relief from sharing – but not lasting change
Beware the power of catharsis. We feel better when we share, but it’s temporary relief, not lasting change. Something about speaking it out loud creates relief, but it doesn’t create lasting change. Think about how you feel when you get a chance to just get it all out. Maybe it’s been bottling up inside and then you just let it all out. You get this immediate sense of relief, you take a big breath. You’re like, okay, I’m going to get back to work now. But there was no real resolution or action taken on your problem, so it’ll just creep back in later. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
The time you spend talking could be spent making changes
Ask yourself – are you investing your time in the most useful way? Anybody can listen to you talk about your problems, but sometimes you need people to ask you the right questions to pull the pathway out of you. And sometimes you need help with a process to follow so that you really can sequence a series of actions that predictably lead you where you want to go. You want to be in conversation with people who are trained to help you advance the ball. That is how you up-level over time – you find people who can ask you the right questions and can help you sequence those next actions. Ask yourself – if you reinvested all the time you spend talking into taking action, where could you be by now?
If you feel like you don’t have the time to make the changes you need in your life, is it possibly because that time is all getting consumed talking about the problem instead of talking about the solution? Good news – we can help. Set up some time to chat with us and find out if coaching is the right next step for you.