Let's Talk About Talking
We must learn to talk!
So today, we will talk about talking... and not just to fill the awkward silence in a room, but to really articulating our thoughts and feelings. Because sometimes our thoughts and feelings sound like "I'm worthless, I'm a bad person, I'm not worthy of love". While these may not be facts, they may have become truths inside us - that no one knows about, and no one can help us with BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT IT.
We have a right to feel what we feel. We also have the right to talk about it.
So, lets start today!
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Hello, and welcome. Thanks for joining today. I’m glad you’re here to discuss something that may seem a bit strange to talk about. Or at least it will seem like it at first but will hopefully make more sense as we go.
I want to talk about talking. And I don’t mean to just fill in the awkward silence that may loom in a room, but to really articulate our thoughts and feelings. And that may be what seems strange to some people listening. Because we do that, don’t we? We have thoughts and feelings, and we talk about them.
If this seems strange to you, then I am very happy for you. But please believe me when I say that many of us are not doing this. For different reasons. And one reason may be that we just don’t even understand our thoughts, to be able to articulate them. They may even be known to us, but not in a way that we really know we are having them, and certainly not in a way that we could tell others about them. It’s an idea that you don’t have words for.
Again, this may seem strange, but here is a very simple example. If I tossed a ball at you, you’d most likely put your hand out to catch it. And not just by instinct. I may give you heads up and say, here, catch this ball I’m going to throw your way”.
But how many of you would have actually thought through the fact and then replied that you are ready and able to catch this ball with your hands out in front of you, because gravity dictates that what is thrown in the air, will come back down again, and you are ready for this to happen.
Not many of us would have had that thought process before catching the ball, nor would we talk about it. We would just “catch the ball”.
But that’s what is going on for us all the time. There are these thoughts and ideas that are just facts to us. Things we learned growing up, things we have told ourselves, things we have come to understand through experiences, even rules we have come to accept as truths and truths that we now live by.
And we normally carry these thoughts and ideas around as unquestioned, and really, unquestionable… because they are facts and truths, aren’t they?
Now, what if these facts, these truths of thoughts and ideas sound like this…
“I am a worthless person. I am weak. I am nothing. My life is meaningless. I am not worthy of love”.
Friends, that is what too many people are carrying around as their thoughts and ideas, unquestioned as factual truth. And they are not thinking about this, and surely not articulating it to anyone, and this is a tragedy.
I know a young man who has struggled with wanting to live. He’s been so convinced of his lack of worth, that redemption seemed impossible. His unquestioned thoughts were that he was a bad person and being here only made the world a worse place.
And he’s been so sold out on these ideas being facts, that it frustrated him for his family, his friends, a significant other to care about him and show him love. He’s tried so many ways to prove his unworthiness, and really show how much of a bad person he was so that everyone who thought they loved him could see him for who he actually was and understand why he thought and felt the way he did.
And maybe, maybe they would then understand and even agree that his not wanting to live was actually the best thing for him, and this world.
But try as he might, the people who loved him just would not even try to understand how awful he was. So, he resorted to being “fine”. He would carry the self-loathing and hatred and all the negative, damaging thoughts and ideas of himself quietly and articulate the word “fine”. That’s all he had to put his ideas into words.
He didn’t understand his thoughts enough to challenge them, they were normal to him. Unquestionable truths. What is there to challenge? He had “behaviors” that tried to convince others of his lack of worth, but still, they were not articulated words.
Now, to add to the conflict of saying “fine” while the thoughts and ideas and behaviors are in a turmoil of trying to stay hidden from the friends and family members, we have pure exhaustion of living a double life, within a life that you have no desire to have at all.
There are no plans for a future in this, there is not even a clear idea of the next moment. There is no ability to think ahead or think clearly at all. There is a web of lying to loved ones and playing a role, which perpetuates the unquestionable truth that he is a bad person.
Years of this creates learned behaviors and neuropathways that perpetuate all these thoughts and ideas as truths – facts – absolutes of who he is, and what the world he lives in is really all about.
There was no contemplating getting better. For one, he didn’t deserve to. But the other fact was, that was not a possibility.
And I know that this sounds very daunting and depressing. But if it feels like that to hear it, imagine what living it must be like. And maybe you don’t have to imagine it. Maybe this has been, or maybe this is your experience.
This is why we need to talk about this. Because you deserve to talk about this. But it hasn’t been cowardice or lack of strength that has kept you from being able to articulate all this. God knows the strength it takes to live like this. Strength beyond measure.
It's been an inability to clearly understand your thoughts and ideas for what they are and articulate them in a way that someone could hear you and really listen to what you are saying.
And I’m so sorry about that. We are having this conversation today because we need to be better and do better at listening, so that you may be encouraged to talk.
And we need to be better and do better at talking, so that until you are ready, someone is doing it on your behalf. Because you are worth it and you deserve it, even if you don’t believe that just yet.
We need to learn to have conversations so that we realize that the people who love you see a whole different world for you, than you see for yourself.
The people who love you see YOU very differently than you see yourself.
And until we can learn to talk, I mean really talk, we won’t be able to articulate this back and forth.
And this might feel like pressure. Intense pressure. Because only you can really explain what you are going through. Because you are the only one going through it. Your power will be in speaking YOUR truth, no matter what it is about all the thoughts and ideas that you carry around with you.
As someone listening, your pressure, and your power, will be in speaking back truth, and realizing that words encourage conversation, or teach someone to say “fine” and go back into a turmoil of silence.
Stay strong, you got this, keep calm and carry on, chin up, man up.
Powerful words. That tell someone that they need to say “fine”. They need to be and say that they are fine. That’s what people want and need from them.
I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. I want to understand better. Can I sit here with you? Can you tell me more about it? Can I help find someone who is really good at listening? You deserve to talk about this with someone who could really understand it.
Also, powerful words. That invites further talking and exploration of thoughts and ideas.
I know there are many tests to depict and diagnose trauma, depression, grief, anxiety etc., but there is something powerful that happens when we learn to articulate our own suffering in our own words with our thoughts and ideas in explanation of where they originate from.
There is something that happens when we personalize what we have come to believe and how it impacts our worth, dignity, and ability to love and be loved. That cannot happen without talking, really talking about what it is that is going on within us.
We have to learn to self-rate our mental health and talk about it. Beyond just knowing if we feel good or if we feel bad. Because measuring our mental health also requires us to measure our ability to talk about our mental health.
There have been studies done where asking about people’s mental health had a completely different outcome than the clinical measures of mental health questionnaires. And that is concerning. Because it shows us that mental health is a great concern for so many, but who we think is most at risk clinically speaking, are just not as able to articulate it unless they come into a clinical setting for evaluation. And those who seem most at risk when we speak to people about it aren’t those being tested and treated.
How then do we focus mental health treatment and funding and research to those most at risk?
We have a societal problem when it comes to not being fine and talking about how bad we really feel. We’ve come a long way, in our attempt to end the stigma on mental health, but we have a long way to go. It is less a stigma to have mental health issues, but we still need to learn to talk about it. And really talk about it.
Most of the talking that is modeled for us is by celebrities and people who have overcome. Who have fought the good fight and made their way back to a place of stability and health. But how did they do it? What did they say? How did they articulate their thoughts and ideas? And who listened?
And what were their responses?
Because going back to this young man, I remember him saying things like “I don’t get it, I don’t even have the right to feel this bad. Other people have it way worse than I do and yet I don’t feel good enough to want to live… and that makes me hate myself even more – seeing where I’ve had trauma and suffering, but also not as bad as others have”.
And I remember hearing this from him thinking while that may be an accurate perspective, it doesn’t matter when it comes to your feelings. People may have had it worse, but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel bad.
The same logic is that we shouldn’t feel good because someone out there has it better. But we aren’t saying that to people, are we? No. We wouldn’t. But we have taught things like “don’t feel bad, others have it worse”. We know we have taught that, because it is a thought, an idea and truth in some people’s minds. And that’s just not ok.
But it needs to be said. It needs to be talked about. We need to hear it… and we need to correct it. Because these are the invalidating statements that have been made that make people turn around and say “fine. I’m fine”.
And any invalidation tells people that their suffering is not genuine. And it certainly is.
Not talking about suffering feels like a coping mechanism, right up until the moment it is not. And then you are in crisis.
We need to normalize talking so that crisis is not when we first learn the true suffering of another human who has the same right as everyone else, to feel validated and of worth.
We need to see that any suffering at all, is crisis, and worthy of talking about.
If we knew that a particular kind of cancer was on a huge rise, we wouldn’t hesitate to advocate for more screening.
We have to look at mental health as being on the rise on every level of suffering and we have to normalize talking as the screening for it.
Not one of us experienced a life absent of suffering. Many of us had the opportunity and ability to articulate our thoughts, feelings, and ideas which kept us from a major crisis of mental health breakdown.
But the truth is that many of us have not had the opportunity or ability to talk. And perhaps we did have the crisis. Perhaps you are on the verge of crisis right now.
Let’s talk about it. Let’s not rely on believing that we don’t need to talk about it because we will be able to see it in a loved one. Remember how quickly they may say “fine”.
My son has an incredibly loving family and many great friends. It’s not that we couldn’t see it in him. It’s that he couldn’t see it in himself, enough to articulate it with real truths through the ideas of what he had come to understand.
We had to learn to talk. Really talk about it. And not allow the answer to be fine.
And we need to keep talking about it.
And if you actually feel fine and feel like you don’t have anything you really need to talk about, talk anyways. For those who aren’t able to yet. Those you want to encourage to talk and show them that it is safe to do so.
Talking about your mental health is not just good for you, it is good for everyone.
I care so much about you and your loved ones. Let's keep talking about everything that is important to us, about us, and for us.
Until next time, good-bye for now,
And we’ll speak again soon.