But guess what: the let-it-all-hang-out approach is not as great as it's cracked up to be. In fact, overtelling your stuff - your problems, your issues, your struggles, your challenges - to anyone usually just backfires, and ends up making you feel a whole lot worse.
Why is this?
There's a few reasons:
1) It's embarrassing to tell other people stuff.
Even if the stuff actually isn't about you, and is about your spouse, or your kid, or your husband, it still feels pretty icky to dive into conversations about other people's faults. There's a time and a place for it (ie, usually with your therapist), but otherwise, hanging your dirty washing out for all to see is only going to cause you embarrassment and shame, long-run.
2) Other people can't solve your problems.
Often, we can feel so overwhelmed by our issues and heartache, we start holding out for 'Prince Charming' to show up, and rescue us from it all. And sometimes, someone who's trying to be Prince or Princess Charming shows up, and starts telling us a whole bunch of good advice, or tips, or ideas, to get us out of our hole.
But even when that help and advice is coming from a good place, it's still going to end up doing more harm than good.
Because no-one can solve your problems in your place. God sent you - and everyone - problems for a specific reason, and until and unless you take responsibility for your own life, no advice, help or cash is going to make your problem disappear.
Sooner or later, the penny drops, and even Prince Charming gives up trying to rescue you, which normally doesn't do a whole lot of amazing things for your mood and self-esteem.
3) Concentrating on the 'bad' in your life only strengthens it.
Here is a newsflash: Every single person on the planet has flaws, issues, problems and character traits they need to work on. That's the point of being alive - to work on all this stuff, acknowledge it, and clean it out.
But the place to look at your 'inner bad' is only when you're talking to God, in your regular personal prayer sessions.
Because God doesn't judge you negatively; He doesn't permanently label you; He doesn't gossip about you behind your back; and He doesn't make you feel ashamed, guilty and 'defective' every time you see Him.
Unfortunately, people do.
It's human nature to concentrate and hang on to the 'bad', and to tell other people about the 'bad' in your life, and to focus on the 'bad' in others, and occasionally, even in yourself.
But it's not helpful!
If you really want to feel better, start looking for all the good in your life and in yourself, and save the 'bad' strictly for your conversations with God.
4) Most people only confide in others because they want sympathy
Again, this is human nature, and it's not even wrong - if it's an occasional cry for help. We all have our bad days and our miserable moments when a kind, encouraging word from a friend can truly help to turn it all around.
The problem comes when you become reliant on other people's sympathy and empathy to help you feel good. If you don't watch out, you can very quickly morph into a manipulative 'suffering martyr', continually playing the victim in order to squeeze as much T&C out of others as possible.
This is not healthy!
So what's the answer? It's actually pretty simple:
- Talk to God on a regular basis, preferably every day.
- Tell Him all the 'bad' stuff that's going on in your life, and ask Him for advice and sympathy.
- Do your best to avoid indulging in pity parties with actual people.
- Take responsibility for your life and your problems, and don't blame anyone else for your issues.
I know it's not Oprah, but it is the way to live a much healthier, happier life, and to build lasting, warm and genuinely caring relationships.