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The Danger of Talking About Your Problems

“Why did I have to open my mouth?!” I was already depressed enough and her words felt like a fierce stab to my open wound.

I know better than to just blurt out my problems. I would have had better luck posting it on my Facebook page or sharing it with you. I hate to admit it sometimes, but you are my safe place. I can tell you things I don’t tell people I see and talk to face to face all the time. I tell you things I wouldn’t share with people I’m related to. People.

Given that I don’t follow football, I had no idea who Lou Holtz was, but I have always resonated with something he said:

“Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”

The danger of taking about your problems

Early in my life I found that to be painfully true. So I was closed, careful, and guarded. My boundaries made up a wall that kept me falsely safe… and truly isolated. I wouldn’t trust anyone so I couldn’t connect with anyone.

[tweet “When you don’t trust anyone you can’t connect with anyone. #elaynaquotes #motivationformoms”]

And the issue with that is that I crave connection. Yeah, we all do. But I do more. Connection is my number one passion, connection is my highest value, connection is my strongest need. Every self-discovery journey – both the ones I’ve embarked on and the ones I’ve been pushed into – has led to connection.

So okay, I surrendered. I jumped into the connection train, fear and all. And it’s been a bumpy ride.

But this bump really hurt. It was more like a fracture. Nah. That doesn’t do it justice. I’ve broken 19 bones before and it didn’t hurt that badly. Elisha shattered her elbow and she recovered faster. I’m still in inexplicable pain. And I didn’t even want to write about it – or I did, but kept putting it off. And now I’m crying.

I keep playing her words in my head. I keep wishing I hadn’t opened up to her. I keep hearing a voice telling me I knew better. I keep consciously choosing to forgive her and I’m struggling to forgive myself.

When you don't trust anyone you can't connect with anyone. Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

I blamed myself for being naïve. I imagined going to my friend, telling her of my sadness, my shame, my depression, and my friend responding with empathy, understanding, and compassion. I would feel her love and it all would be warm and fuzzy, making me feel so much better.

Instead, she embodied “the six types of people you don’t open up to” that Dr. Brene Brown talks about in The Gifts Of Imperfection (aff link):

  1. The friend who actually feels shame for you, gasps and confirms how horrified you should be. Then there’s an awkward silence and you feel the need to make her feel better
  2. The friend who responds with sympathy (saying “I feel so sorry for you. You poor thing. Bless your heart!”) rather than with empathy (like “I get it, I feel with you and I’ve been there.”)
  3. The friend who needs for you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. She can’t help you because she’s too disappointed in your imperfections.
  4. The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds, “How did you let this happen?”
  5. The friend who is all about making it better and, out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually make terrible choices (“You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.”)
  6. The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you. (“Girl, please! That’s nothing. Listen what happened to me…”)

I knew these types. The theory resonated with me. Yet I often see the signs only in hindsight, and I had dismissed my own intuition, calling “the benefit of the doubt.” Does doubt really have a useful benefit?

Now I know she’s unable to support me in meeting my needs, and I couldn’t learn it in any other way, because she’s the best friend she can be. It’s not that she doesn’t deserve to hear my story or she hasn’t earned the right to witness by vulnerability; she’s simply not equipped to handle the burden of my story. She’s still my friend… and that gives me peace.

[tweet “Every friend is the best friend she can be for you. #elaynaquotes #motivationformoms”]

I’m learning to accept her friendship and not to expect it to be something it can’t yet –or ever- be. You know what? I just felt more connected to her!

I don’t want to go back to making decisions out of fear. I don’t want to avoid being open, being vulnerable, being myself. I want to make decisions out of love… love for myself and love for humanity.

And from that choice, I am committing to find balance in sharing my issues, my problems, and my shame stories:

I don’t want to tell everyone everything. Although when I post about menstrual cramps on Facebook people may get the idea I do. LOL

I don’t want to tell no one anything… because though I risk discovering devastating news, they are valuable to me. I risk being judged, being dismissed, or being left hanging. And when I risk, I have some chance to get what I’m seeking.

I guess it’s time to quote another athlete, of yet another sport I don’t follow or know anything about:

We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

We miss 100% of the shots we don't take ~ Wayne Gretzky

So you bet there’s danger in talking about your problems, but it’s worth taking a shot. Plus I’m learning to learn the difference between hope and fantasy.

My disappointment in my friend came from the latter. My expectations were so high and that’s from where I fell. I love her for doing the best she could and I forgive her because she didn’t know what she did. No wonder that’s what Christ said in the cross… I guess I never really understood it or maybe I doubted he really meant it. There’s doubt again… and still not useful.

[tweet “Learn the difference between hope and fantasy and you’ll avoid much suffering. #elaynaquotes #motivationformoms”]

I’m feeling so much lighter and I am so grateful you are listening reading. I choose to tell you my sorrows, my pains, and my struggles.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my chest, I’ll tell you the lesson I’ve learned: it’s easy to demonize my friend, to take it personally, to deem her toxic, but it’s more empowering to evaluate my sharing:

Can she help? Am I sharing my problem because she’s factually someone who can help solve it or is she going to feel uncomfortable and powerless?

Can it help her? Am I sharing my problem because I’m a step or two ahead of her and it can help her navigate her own issues?

Can I heal? Am I sharing because I’ll heal if I share, whether she’s supportive or not? Have I let go of the illusion that my healing has something to do with another’s approval? Am I sharing because I am choosing to be authentic and true to myself?

I’m giving myself permission to do this before OR after I’ve shared. Knowing a list of bullet points, no matter how brilliant, doesn’t make me a perfect decision maker. I’m a human being driven by emotions that cloud my judgment – and the gifts of that outshine the chaos by far.

Think before you share. Can she help? Can it help her? Can I heal? - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

I don’t want to be a careful sharer. So let me tell you what I do want:

I want to be a conscious, compassionate, and connected sharer… because that’s more in alignment with who I am at my core. And as I share openly, bravely, and authentically, I want to detach from the outcome, because I may not have one of those move-the-body friends Dr. Brene Brown talks about, and that won’t hinder my healing. I want to forsake the exchange mindset. I want to strive to be seen, understood, and comforted by myself and let that be enough, while being willing to receive what is offered.

I no longer feel betrayed, resentful, and disrespected. I feel free. I feel lovable. I feel worthy.

As I take a long deep breath, I can genuinely say I am happy my friend doesn’t understand how she hurt me. I’m happy she hasn’t been where I’ve been and I’m crying happy tears because I’d rather be unnoticed and misunderstood my entire life than know that someone shares my story and has suffered the same tragedies. That’s why I opened my mouth…If I hadn’t opened my mouth, I wouldn’t realize this beautiful truth.

Whoa… would you share your thoughts with me about this? What is, in your perspective the danger of talking about your problems? Who do you go to when you have problems?



Sunday 24th of September 2023

May I add a seventh type: the friend who responds to your troubled situation by saying we shouldn't talk about it and then tells you great her situation is.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Monday 25th of September 2023

You are so right, Jo!


Monday 3rd of July 2023

I have a question because I don't understand a lot of things, why have friends then? what is the point on having them if you can't tell them your problems without them going away?


Friday 12th of August 2022

I'm here because I'm trying to figure out how to be a good friend and how to listen well.


Sunday 16th of January 2022

I got in trouble for not sharing my problems with my guardian. The problem is that when I do tell her my problems, she says it's not that bad, or I could do that, or a baby could do it better. I have hidden my problems from her since then, and now she peggs me as being disrespectful.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

I am sad to hear that, John. Many people are not emotionally aware or intelligent, but that doesn't mean that your feelings are not valid. They are. I hope you have a different person you can go to that you trust and can validate your feelings. What I have done when I have believed that I am completely alone and can't tell anything to anyone is that I talk to myself in the third person, and if it's safe and no one will read, I will write it down in a journal or diary. I will be praying for you!


Thursday 9th of September 2021

I use to be a very open person, I always liked to talk to people about my problems until it backfired today. People mostly judge you if you got problems like I remember I had a friendship with this girl and every time I told her my problems she seemed happy like "Omg I wish you told me your problems more." but when I told her my happiness she tries to shade me etc, It's so true there are people who are glade yourself got a problem. Honestly just trust God and yourself and your family and those close to you! you can't give ur heart easily to mfs and these are some people who try to emotionally one-up you once you tell them your feelings. its better to fight it within than to fight it with words that are useless!


Thursday 21st of December 2023

@JayseeTheQueen, yep. Most friendships seem to be some sorts of transactions anyway. Commiseration, partying, killing time, feeling better than someone, feeling less bad about yourself because your friend is more miserable, gossiping to feel good about yourself, enhancing your image because you're popular, having someone to borrow money from etc. I don't know, psychology says I'm paranoid and negative, I say, what else is there to friendship? No one has been able to answer me.