When we tell people to ‘get it off their chest,’ we’re usually advising people to talk. To talk about what’s worrying them, or maybe making them feel sad/anxious/angry/hostile/hopeless. It’s an expression that I’ve heard and used many times, without really appreciating the image it creates.
When we carry worries, problems and concerns around, without sharing them, it can feel incredibly heavy. And lonely.
Having done a hella lot of body scan meditations recently, I’m increasingly aware of how my body reacts (or indeed warns me) to negativity in my mind. So I’m also increasingly aware that refusing to talk about things that are upsetting me – trying to push them to the back of my mind – really can feel like some kind of large, mean Gremlin is sitting on my chest.
It’s always been one of my worst failings, that I often try to take care of things alone, feeling that I should (awful word!) be able to handle it. Or that it’ll go away if I ignore it (it never does!)
Often, I worry that talking about something will make it real. That admitting to the problem will result in rejection or even catastrophe, telling myself that silence is better. It never is.
Luckily, my long-suffering partner, Mr. G, knows this. He often sees the Gremlin before I do. And he’s pretty adept now at getting me to talk.
And for all of my worries that talking will make it worse, it never has.
And it genuinely does feel like ‘a weight has been lifted.’
The Gremlin has jumped off – or perhaps been pushed – and I feel much lighter and springier.
The message here is: your problems won’t get any better if you avoid them; and a key part of the human experience is the sharing of problems and pain. If you’re carrying around a pet Gremlin, give him the push by talking honestly with just one other person. Even if he doesn’t disappear; you can at least keep him by your feet, on a leash.
Desperately depressed but no one to listen? Here’s a link to the Samaritans Helpline/website.