Saturday, June 9, 2018

What?! Talking About Your Problems Can Be Unproductive?!

Have you ever had something that you just couldn't get over? Like, where you actually get mad that you're not over it yet. Or, maybe you're going through something like that right now. Some examples would be (but not limited to) losing a friend, a breakup, or when someone said something that hurt your feelings. I'm pretty sure almost everyone can relate. How did you cope with it? Did you talk about it? Most likely. I know I did when I was dwelling on my breakup with my ex-boyfriend. But, did you know that this can actually prolong your pain? I sure as hell didn't at the time.

We've always been told to talk about your feelings, it makes you feel better, and that's true...only to a certain extent. Once you get past that threshold of it helping you, it's unproductive and only hurting you. And, it makes sense, too. Instead of focusing on solutions, we are focusing on the pain that we felt from the situation. But, there's great news! There are techniques that you can use while you're talking about the issue to prevent yourself from reliving your pain! Before I tell you about that, let me tell you how I came about this revelation. 

It was a warm, summer day, and I was driving to work, listening to the podcast "Nobody Told Me!" By Jan Owens and Laura Owens. In this particular episode, Dr. Guy Winch, author of "How to Fix a Broken Heart", about, well, how to fix a broken heart. I was shocked me when I was heard: Talking about your breakup can become unproductive. This isn't true just for breakups, but for any emotional trauma.

Initially, talking about your breakup or emotional trauma helps you process your feelings, problem-solve, and gain some insight. This is productive. But, once you aren't gaining any more new perspectives on the situation as you are talking about the situation and it's been some time since and you're still wondering why did this happen, chances are you are probably got what you needed from talking about it already.

You're probably wondering how can you tell it's unproductive. Well, from my experience, you'll be able to tell when you're not benefiting from talking about the situation when you're going on this cycle of despair. (I'm exaggerating, kind of, but also not really.) Guy Winch uses the term "emotional hamster wheel" to describe this cycle.

I started to research some more on the topic because I was fascinated. I discovered that how you talk about the problem can determine how fast you can heal from the situation. For example, I read on The Guardian website that Walter Mischel, the psychologist that came up with the Marshmallow Test, found that if you talk or write about the predicament from the third-person account, you'll be more distanced from your recap of the story so you can gain the information that you need without reliving the trauma. Through this method, you will most likely be more objective and find the solutions that you are looking for. Although, avoid talking about it too much because you may be reopening your wound that's just trying to heal.

In another article on, I read that Boris Cyrulnik, a French ethnologist, found that the words that you choose to describe your situation can affect how you feel about the situation. In the study, they found that people who have experienced traumatic events, such as sexual assault, found more comfort when described with empowering words, such as "strong" and "brave" than treated as a victim instead. It makes sense though. If someone treated you as a victim, you're going to believe that you are a victim. But, if someone saw that you are a strong person, you're going to believe you were a strong person for having overcome that obstacle and you understand that you're on the road to recovery.

To implement both of these studies into your healing process, you can describe the event from a third-person point-of-view and make sure that you sprinkle in some empowering words to describe yourself.

Summary: Talking about your feelings is essential to your healing, but talking about them too much can prevent your healing. You'll be able to feel when you're starting to dwell when you start feeling like you're on an "emotional hamster wheel." How you talk about your issues can determine how fast you heal from your emotional setback. One way is to talk about your issue in a third-person account. Another way is to use empowering words to describe yourself while you're talking about your situation.

Man, this would have been super helpful when I was going through my romantic and friendship breakups a couple of years ago.

You have more tactics to heal from an emotional situation? Share it down below in the comments to help someone recover! And, if you liked this post, share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Tumblr!

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