When I think about talking to people about what I am feeling, one thought stops me from going through with it – “What will they think of me?” Will they think I am weird? Will it affect my relationship with them? I’ve realized the short answer to all those questions: yes, they will be weirded out and yes, it will affect the relationship.
Quite simply, any action causes some change in the environment. So, introducing this new aspect into a conversation that would otherwise consist of quotidian chit-chat would be weird at first. Since the other person is not used to talking to you about ‘this stuff’, they might be taken aback or their interest piqued. The probability of one is just as likely as the other. It is just simple math.
Also, once this change is introduced, the other person will re-evaluate their perception of you. It is only rational to do so. For example, If you were to find that your colleague from work is a good singer at a party, you would refresh your view of that colleague as not only of a certain caliber at work but also multifaceted in his/her talents. This doesn’t seem weird because the new information is either positive or neutral to you. It’s just more information and the transition to the new perspective is seamless. However, if you heard something ‘negative’ about this colleague, the transition might not be as smooth.
Two things come into focus from this analogy to our fear of talking about our feelings with others. Firstly, the other person might be well-equipped to handle this new information. Secondly, they might simply consider this as more information and not necessarily negative. In the worst case scenario, the person might consider this information negative and they are not able to process this new information and still maintain the same level of trust and respect with you. Frankly, in my opinion, that possibility sounds more like a problem of the other person than your own.
Everyday, we are challenged with our perception of what we think we know, at work, at home, at school, etc. We are expected to not freak out each time but calmly break down things we do not understand, to the fundamentals we comprehend. Only then, can we take a more rational approach to tackling the unknown. So, why should we freak out when someone shares a little more than we expect from them ‘normally’?
Now, none of this rationale can eliminate the irrational fear, the discomfort or the risk of opening up to someone and having it not go the way you thought it would. For me, all this analysis is a reason not to be too scared of the outcome in a language I understand – science and math. The outcome is just as probable to go well as it is to not. So, there is nothing you can do about it. Hence, there’s no point in worrying.
Everyone is self-isolating during the pandemic and that is new to most, and they feel frustrated about it. But, I have been isolating myself forever. Now, they know a little about how I feel, maybe they are more willing to listen and understand?… I feel this crisis has refreshed our view and opened us to the widespread prevalence of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, mood disorders, and much more. Even if most of the people are facing this acutely, they are now in a better position to step into your shoes if you are willing to talk to them about how you feel.
P.S. Just remember to listen to their problems too, however trivial they may seem in comparison to yours.