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Hiding Our Problems

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by , 08-14-2010 at 02:14 PM (1153 Views)
This is something that I've thought about for a long time, and it's something that is just kind of hard to bring up with most people I know. I almost made this as a post, but it's personal enough that I think a blog entry is more appropriate.

Basically, it seems to me in life that except for close friends and family members, everyone seems to hide their problems. I do this too. It seems like everyone is happy and enjoying life, and when they do talk about problems, it's little things...things that you say to joke about to ease tension, or maybe even blow off some stream...but rarely is it serious.

Of course, some problems are private and just feel awkward to mention in casual conversation. But I was wondering why in general we hide our problems so much.

I think really, the main thing is we're afraid how other people will react. We're afraid they'll they won't want to hear us complaining, maybe. Or maybe they'll think there's something wrong with us. Or maybe they'll think we're being negative. Or maybe we're afraid they won't want to hang around us. Or maybe they can't relate to our problems. Or maybe they'll think ours arent' a big deal compared to theirs. Or maybe they just won't care.

I don't know how much of this is an ISFJ thing. I think the average person I know probably only sees the happy, good side of me. They might think I'm always carefree, always goofy, always nice, even if I am pretty quiet. I think most people that know me think that I bring a calm friendliness and happiness to them.

And for most people I know, I see the same thing.

But...I definitely have my own problems. And sometimes they eat away at me. A lot of times I feel weird, or lonely, or alone. I feel like I can't relate to a number of people, or that they don't take me seriously. I feel like I can't be completely myself around anyone but myself, because I care too much what people think of me and don't want to run them off. It's like I'm scared that people will stop accepting me if they know everything about me. And I think that's where a lot of my self-confidence issues come from, even though people tell me great things about me often.

(It's funny, and it has helped that a lot of these are typical ISFJ things. :) Recognizing that helps me to feel better a lot of times, too)

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, my problems are small. I have a good job, one I can do, one that is enough for me to support myself. I'm not poor or starving like a lot of the world, and I have many material comforts. I wasn't abused, don't have any diseases, have a loving family, have never been addicted to drugs, don't have credit card debts...I mean, sometimes I feel like my problems are miniscule.

But I think it's just frustrating how we can't talk about our problems more. Because I know....I just know...that people I know that seem totally happy and wonderful and perfect...probably have problems that I have no idea about, and might even be shocked to find out. Every now and then that happens...I find out sometihng about someone, and it just reminds me that there's so much I don't know. But sometimes it's still so hard to shake the idea that some people seem to be so happy and don't seem to have problems, becaues I never see them. (Though of course, they probably don't see mine either). But that's what I hate so much...us not communicating it.

I think for me too I'm afraid of people trying to tell me what to do to fix things. A lot of times, I just need to express my issues and let them out...I don't need someone to try to solve them. I just need to talk about them.

I remember I heard in a conference once that if someone tells you about a problem, you should never give advice about it unless they ask you to. And I've found for me that's extremely true...a lot of times I don't want people to solve my problems, I just want to talk to someone about them. And that's what I'm doing right now in the blog entry, actually.

There is one quotation that does always help me with this, though, and I try to remember it and go by it, even if that's not always easy:

"If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back."
FreeSpirit, WickerDeer, Aquamarine and 1 others thanked this post.

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  1. Rowan's Avatar
    Good quote! I will try and remember that one.

    I think you are right-it is the fear of others' reactions that can hold us back from sharing problems.

    The easier one to solve is if you want to talk and not receive advice, I think most people will understand if you tell them you 'just' need to vent.

    Thank you for sharing.....about not sharing.....
  2. jamescarrolls's Avatar

    You hit the nail. Each and everyone of us go through problems. Some things we just do not wish to share or we feel too scared to share. Especially not knowing the end result. Or how it will all come out. Teddy... there are people out there that will accept you for who you are and be there for you. Someone who will understand you and care. I for one do. Within a short amount of time, I have grown to respect you and think of you as someone I would like as a friend. All it took was time......

    Teddy, you have helped me much more than you will ever know. We do not even know one another physically, and yet you took your time and gave a damn about another human being. And for that Teddy, I thank you.

    Your friend,
  3. snail's Avatar
    Thank you for posting this. I just got through posting something in a thread about this topic.


    You're not the only one who feels this way, even if we are probably in the minority. I think the world would be a better place if people were encouraged to talk more freely about their problems without having to be so afraid of how others are going to judge them for it or be inconvenienced by it. It is good to support each other, to need and be needed.
  4. teddy564339's Avatar
    Aww, thanks Johnny, I appreciate it.

    And thanks for your comment too, snail. It's always nice to know someone else feels the same thing sometimes.
  5. Nonconsensus's Avatar
    My apologies that I forgot to address this part in the other thread. There are times I seem to not address things. I do not know if it is an introversion issue or any other issue, but there are times I thought I'd addressed it and later realize that I've never said it.

    The very interesting thing is that I believe the reasons why you hide your problems are not unique to you - I do have the same concerns. We start our lives not knowing what's happening, and are extremely confused by the clashing of values. And because we are limited by our perspectives and perceptions, we don't realize that others have the same concerns as us.

    I read a book. I forgot the title. It was on the subject of forgiveness. Midway through reading, I had a huge suspicion that he was an INTJ, with very strong Ni-Te-Fi preferences, and he had the tendency to ignore feelings until after an ordeal was over. I'm not discounting my personal bias; it's just his very unemotional approach to an emotional subject that made it all the more emotional.

    The book was inspired after the writer met with an accident. I forgot the name of the condition, but he was handicapped from waist down. What struck me as interesting was how he openly and rationally discussed with his wife whether he should kill himself. Very surprisingly, his wife understood his wish to die, but negotiated with him to keep himself alive for two years and see how life went.

    His greatest challenge was to realize that he was as fallible as any other. The thought of being wheelchair-bound frightened him, and he felt that he was no longer a part of society, isolated and forgotten.

    He wrote about his reflections for the times he kept to the deal. What struck me as very interesting is that he went through the things that stuck out to him in the past, and reopened cases about the past. His mother was stabbed to death. He hated the murderer. He struggled with feelings of resentment, of victimhood, etc.

    But now as a crippled man, he began to think about how he was injuring himself with such feelings. And he started to recondition himself. He gave reasons to forgive the murderer. He came up with possible explanations why that murderer had to do it. He tried to replace the feelings of resentment by thinking in the perspective of the murderer. But he never excused the murderer's actions. He didn't think it made sense to condone murder. Yet this self-talk that he went through allowed him to stop the hurt, and begin the healing. And he admitted to failing, from time to time.

    While crippled, he began to feel like a mirror as he watched the reactions of those who found out about his ordeal. Some avoided him, some pitied him, some tried to cheer him up, some tried to belittle his problem - and there were those who did not judge, and those who felt safe in his presence and opened up to the same vulnerability as he did.

    Through that experience, he began to realize just how deeply connected everyone was - by this same fear, same insecurity, and same need for recognition, love and safety. That despite the differences we all have, deep down, most people are the same. But we forget, and feel alone.

    At times, I feel like that, like a mirror. That you do see and feel the hurt of another, but have no voice to communicate that. That having a monotonous voice, an expressionless face and a talking style like this makes it all the more difficult. That people deny that I have ever tried to understand, and deny that I can ever hope to understand, and not realize that that is possibly what they are saying of themselves. Perhaps it is arrogant to think that I do understand. No, of course I probably don't have feelings that match the outer world as I simply cannot manipulate my feelings to be in tune with whatever's out there.

    Perhaps trying to understand is not worth it, perhaps it is.

    But I do think it is a matter of personal choice whether one wants to be the one who's reactive, or the one who takes initiative. The consequences are only ours to bear.
    teddy564339 thanked this post.
  6. FreeSpirit's Avatar
    I hide my problems/don't like to talk about them because it makes me think about them.
    Since no matter what you do, you are going to have problems, I really really avoid thinking
    about them because then my whole life will be depressing/worrisome. I just push through
    things. (Only to have those things replaced by new things).

    Anyway, I know no one can or wants to help me with them (and even if they did, I
    might reject their help) so talking about them becomes doubly useless.

    But I know a couple of people who, (like you seem to) benefit from talking about their
    problems, that is, it makes them feel better (which is opposite of me).

    This is fascinating, though difficult for me to understand.

    Sometimes I fall into talking about my problems without realizing it (talking
    before speaking) I always regret it. It makes me feel like shit.

    But, anyway, still fascinating..... though my skills at listening to peoples'
    problems or the advice I give may not be what people want.... FAIL.

    When people start telling me about their problems now-a-days, I mostly
    give a disclaimer up front, "You don't want my advice. Look at me!!!! Do you
    want to be like me?!!!" Answer: "Hell no!"
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