How to Talk About Your Problems to Others

You need to talk about what hurts you, so that it starts to hurt less, but how do you start? The most important thing is to choose the right person to talk to.
How to Talk About Your Problems to Others
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

If your car breaks down, you know where to go to repair it. If a part of your body hurts, you know how to explain it to your doctor and describe the pain. However, if you’re worried about something, it’s different. Not only do you have to think about who to share it with, but you often don’t know how to talk about your problems or even where to start.

Putting into words what hurts, disturbs, and generates anxiety, fear, or anguish isn’t an easy task. In fact, these sensations can be so overwhelming, that there are no adjectives to describe them. They’re emotions that are so painful they’re immeasurable, and can’t be put into words. In addition, there’s the feeling of shame and the inevitable fear of being judged when you explain what’s happened.

This emphasizes the importance of knowing how to choose who you’re going to share your problems with. Most of the time, you don’t seek advice or want others to take charge of what happens to you. That said, what you most yearn for when life weighs you down is that they listen, understand, and know how to be there for you. Nothing more.

Let’s take a look at the tools that’ll make it easier to express yourself more effectively in these kinds of situations.

Talking about and sharing your emotions has great psychological benefits, but speaking about what hurts isn’t always easy.

Woman trying to talk about our problems
Some people are used to internalizing their emotions. This makes it really difficult for them to talk about their problems.

Learning how to talk about your problems

If you want to take care of your mental health in the same way you look after your body, you must talk about what hurts. After all, as the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. However, some of us aren’t used to sharing the problems that keep us awake at night, undermining our balance and well-being.

As a rule, men find it a little harder to open up and explain what makes them anxious, afraid, or worried. It seems that a part of them still thinks that opening up emotionally is synonymous with fragility. Furthermore, they’ve been taught that they’re expected to solve their problems themselves without asking for help.

These stereotypical beliefs are a problem. Indeed, the male suicide rate is increasing. For this reason, we need a culture based on the kind of emotional first aid that derives from sharing our concerns with valid support figures.

Knowing how to talk about our problems is a necessity in which we must empower ourselves.

1. Choose your confidante well

Not everyone around you will be suitable for understanding and listening to your problems. For instance, you might really love your best friend or brother, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best people to tell your problems to.

You need to find someone who, above all else, knows how to listen and emotionally connect with you. Someone who doesn’t judge and knows how to be a refuge and support for you.

2. Tell your story from the beginning

There’s a curious fact about problems. They never come alone and often have many branches and extensions. In fact, almost without you knowing, some setbacks can lead to others and life becomes infinitely complicated for you. This means that, when it comes to talking about what’s happening to you, you never really know how to start. The only thing you can think of saying out loud are phrases like “It’s all really complicated”.

Imagine you’re a narrator who’s going to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Only it’s your story, the one that’s led you to the situation you’re in right now. So, let yourself go and if, along the way, you need to vent your feelings or cry, don’t hesitate to do so.

3. Use emotional labeling

This is the most complicated part. You must express all your felt emotions in words. It’s known as emotional labeling and is really important. In fact, research conducted by the University of California revealed that this resource generates great mental relief.

They observed that whoever vents what they feel in words shows a reduction in activity in the cerebral amygdala. This is the region linked to stress and the processing of negative valence emotions. In these kinds of situations, it lowers its intensity to give us a certain sense of calm.

4. Practice self-compassion

In order to know how to talk about your problems, there are a series of erroneous beliefs that you must banish from your mind. Doing so will allow you to more successfully open up to others.

  • No one is going to judge or criticize you. Before you talk about your problems, talk to yourself with respect and compassion. You deserve to feel better. You’re worthy of support, understanding, and affection. No one has the right to belittle or penalize your own reality.
  • Don’t feel ashamed of anything that’s happening to you. The moment you say your worries out loud you’ll feel relieved.
  • You’re not fallible or weak, and there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re simply going through a bad time that can be solved. Nothing lasts forever. Everything will be better as soon as you’re brave and start to share what’s happening to you.
mother and daughter symbolizing how to talk about our problems
When sharing concerns with someone, it’s necessary to put each of our emotions into words.

Talking about your problems isn’t the solution but it’s a starting point

Obviously, simply talking about your problems won’t solve them. However, it’s a start. In fact, the first thing you’ll notice when sharing, venting, and talking about your problems is a sense of relief. It’ll be a load off your mind and you’ll start to feel protected and validated. Furthermore, you’ll understand that it’s time to focus on what you can do and what aspects are under your control.

Talking about what hurts you makes everything hurt a little less. This is priceless. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to start looking for that special person or professional so you can start putting into words what’s keeping you awake at night. From that moment on, your life will change.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Creswell JD, Way BM, Eisenberger NI, Lieberman MD. Neural correlates of dispositional mindfulness during affect labeling. Psychosom Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;69(6):560-5. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3180f6171f. Epub 2007 Jul 18. PMID: 17634566.
  • Lieberman MD, Eisenberger NI, Crockett MJ, Tom SM, Pfeifer JH, Way BM. Putting feelings into words: affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity in response to affective stimuli. Psychol Sci. 2007 May;18(5):421-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01916.x. PMID: 17576282.
  • Moser, J.S., Dougherty, A., Mattson, W.I. et al. Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI. Sci Rep 7, 4519 (2017).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.