How To Talk About Things That Are Hard to Talk About

How to talk about the things that are most difficult? Choose one or more answers that apply.

A. Don’t. Keep it inside, and when a thought that pains or confuses you comes across your mind, wave it away like a fly.

B. Talk about it haphazardly. Talk about it when you don’t mean to, with people you don’t know or trust, and say things that you didn’t realize you thought, accidentally and without intention. Take the consequences and regret.

photo by C E Cameron

photo by C E Cameron

C. Talk about it awkwardly. Start to talk about it, then change your mind and see how the conversation partner responds. If they want to talk about the weather, sports, or a TV show, take it as a signal that they’re not ready, either. Talk about the weather, sports, or a TV show so neither of you has to act awkward in public. Or keep pushing until they hang up or become angry or stonewall. Feel sad that they won’t engage.

D. Talk about it thoughtfully. Mull your feelings over for a while first, write about it privately, decide how to open the topic and with whom you feel safe discussing it. Resolve not to become offended or hurt but to instead take new information in, like you’d feel a fabric before deciding to try it on. Feel grateful when the person(s) responds with thoughtfulness back, validating your feelings and telling you what they think. Feel more connected, trusting, and less alone.

There are so many topics that we would all like to pretend don’t hurt us. Catastrophic climate change, sexist family members, racism and police brutality, end of life decisions, second weddings, our personal writing. What are the consequences for not talking? Are they worse than trying B-D and going from there?

2 comments

  1. Mary CameronMitchell

    Good morning, Claire Can’t help but see myself here a bit. Hope we’re making progress in talking about difficult things. I do notice how you are open to hearing me try to express myself and I do appreciate that. You are very good at analyzing and defining this topic. Thanks. Have a lovely day. Love, Mom

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