It’s a phrase I hear quite often throughout my work as a therapist in Bethesda MD: “I don’t really want to go there, can we talk about something else?”. “There” can represent many things, from past issues in a marriage to upsetting experiences from childhood to an unacknowledged addiction of some sort. Sometimes it’s said in couples therapy by one partner to the other, sometimes it’s an individual who reports saying it to their partner, and sometimes clients say it to me during a therapy session. Either way the message is loud and clear – “please don’t make me think or talk about that.” Often it might seem as though we say this phrase because we believe that “there” (the topic) is irrelevant or overly-talked about. However, the truth is that most of the time, the feelings underlying the phrase include fear, anger, and generally feeling uncomfortable.
I believe this phrase often comes up in our Bethesda individual and couples therapy because the difficult, often painful topics that we “don’t want to go to” are the very same ones that hold the key to healing, connection, and freedom, yet have been unresolved. We might not want to admit it, but when we “don’t want to go there”, “there” is usually exactly where we need to go. And deep down, we know it. We know that ignoring things won’t help. Still, our gut reaction is to block off that path – it’s too scary to let ourselves feel that pain again, or to worry that someone we love will stop accepting us, or even that we will stop accepting ourselves. It seems easier to keep going, ignoring the elephant in the room, than to find a way to get it out.
Of course, the first step in healing is to acknowledge the fear and pain surrounding the “forbidden” topic. It might be that you aren’t ready to talk about it with anyone else yet, and that’s okay! As your Bethesda MD therapist, I’m here to help you become ready to talk about it again in a way that feels safe, and I won’t push you before you’re ready. If you’re with your partner and this comes up, try giving each other some time and space to think and then reconvene. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about something difficult, you might find it enlightening to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the emotions that this topic evokes in me?
- What am I trying to prevent by not talking about it?
- What do I think or fear will happen if I do?
- What could be gained by allowing myself to open up about this topic, to myself and/or to others?
- What might make it easier for me to explore this topic?
Taking the time to understand and explore your thoughts and emotions might help you to begin to deal with the issue in a new and helpful way. When you can fight off the urge to ignore a problem and can develop the skills necessary to acknowledge and cope with it, you will be rewarded in ways far beyond what ignoring the topic can bring. If you feel you need some support in “going there”, we at Lindsey Hoskins & Associates are here to help!
Have you ever used the phrase “I don’t want to go there”? What are your thoughts?