“WE NEED TO TALK”
How having Difficult Conversations can Save Us Time Unpacking in Therapy.
A lot of people would agree with me when I say that a lot of things can be avoided by simply communicating. In truth, communicating is not always so simple. The words “We need to talk” which are a simple way of opening a dialogue, are so frowned upon; they’re a real subject of contention. Those 4 words can send a person spiraling into anxiety for fear of what lies on the other side.
I firmly believe that if we had more candid conversations with the people in our lives, instead of just talking, but like actually communicating, we would figure out a lot of deep-rooted baggage that most people only get to learn after long periods of unpacking in therapy. Our “Aha!” moments would come from the clarity given to us by another by way of candid, respectful, conversation; as opposed to putting pieces of a puzzle together in therapy for months…sometimes even years. Does this make therapy redundant? most certainly not! I highly recommend seeking therapy for healing; it’s also just as important to do the healing work outside of your therapist’s office.
We are easily starved of many things: Affection, reciprocity, and candid conversation. That’s why we end up in therapy in some cases; as most people choose not to see us or hear us; they’re willing to misunderstand us even before we part our lips to speak, which leads to some unresolved issues from a lack of closure, or whatever else. In an age where we chant the “Nobody owes you anything” slogan, it’s hard to get the reciprocity we crave or even be afforded a conversation when things go sour in any of our relationships: romantic or otherwise.
But we have to at least be willing to try. To try to talk to people and to try to hear them out. A lack of reciprocity can take you on a mind-bender as to why somebody did what they did to create the trauma that has you in therapy or send you on a tangent of feelings of worthlessness. You try to rationalize and often times even find yourself making excuses for the other person when something going wrong was not entirely your fault. “Maybe I should have tried harder” or “I was the problem, I deserved to have that happen to me” “If only I wasn’t dropped on the head as a kid.” starts to go through your mind. We make up all sorts of stories in our heads to try to make sense or justify the situation; It's bananas the stories we’re capable of conjuring in our heads to try to make sense of things. But we don’t go into therapy or set out on a path of healing with all the answers. If we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need to set out in the first place. But we can however, go in with some questions.
It’s easier to figure out something when you ask the right questions and have a decent frame of reference for what it is you want to ask. That’s what having difficult conversations does…It gives us an answer sheet of sorts on which we can write our answers…in this case, our questions. A place where we can read our answers as well as our questions. Without it, it’s difficult to keep track of what it is we want to heal from, or seek closure from, and can keep us going in circles for a while before we pinpoint what the actual problem is and where it stems from.
If you’ve ever written an examination, you probably left the exam room fairly confident of what you wrote. You probably remember each answer you gave to each question. This is all true until your teacher/lecturer hands you your results, with a big red “F” circled at the top, or a score that wasn’t what you calculated in your head, even if it isn’t a bad one; suddenly every answer you were sure you wrote doesn’t seem so sure anymore. “I don’t remember writing this! how could I have written that? I was sure I circled B!” you tell yourself, as you slap your face in disappointment at your lack of wits.
That’s exactly how you feel when you don’t have a frame of reference. Things feel unsure, cause you had no page to read what you wrote off of, after you handed in that paper. That’s why the conversations need to be had! To help us remember, or easily pinpoint where things went wrong. Why things went wrong. It’s much easier to begin a healing process when you’re aware of what it is you want to fix or heal from.
I’ve found myself in situations where I ask questions years after something has passed, and I’m like “Oh! Why didn’t I think to ask that?” By then it’s already too late to ask any party involved if that truly was the defining point; either from the fact that they’ve passed on, moved on from it, or simply don’t remember…or just don’t care to have the conversation.
I remember receiving a rejection email for something important I applied for, and after a week of mopping around, I typed an email asking why I didn’t make the cut. I also asked for pointers on where I could improve the next time around, and within 2 days, I received feedback.
The 2nd time I applied for the same thing, I was picked, easily. I struck while the iron was still hot, and it paid off in a big way. Had I written to the same people months later asking why I was not picked, they’d probably not remember me or the discussion they had at the round-table as they sorted through the credentials of the different applicants that had submitted their papers for the same position; by then they would have moved on from that particular set of entries and thought I was mad for seeking this information much later.
I feel like that could be the case when we allow too much time to pass before having some difficult conversations in our lives. Some situations are salvageable until they aren’t. And every waking moment not spent remedying the situation only exacerbates it.
If ever you find yourself in a position where a difficult conversation is presented to you by someone who feels you’ve hurt them, the least you could do is hear them out and have a conversation; get to the root of it. Aid their healing. And if ever you feel hurt by somebody and you feel that hurt stuck like a lump on on your throat, allow yourself the opportunity to speak on that hurt; it’s a much healthier than carrying that burden with you for years .
There’s a sort of peace that comes from knowing that your thoughts and feelings are neither unreasonable nor irrational. One way we can attain this kind of peace is by having the difficult conversations; silencing the voices in our heads that have us asking “why?”, making it imperative to indulge in the difficult conversations whenever we can.