There are some subjects that seem just too difficult, shameful or embarrassing to discuss. Sexuality is an obvious one. Death is another. And we‘re often really awkward around money and normal bodily functions. Of course, these subjects are deeply personal but they‘re also pretty much universal. Their status as taboos perpetuates our difficulties with talking about them so it‘s very hard to dare to break the rules.

And why would you want to, anyway? Well, what about when things go wrong - maybe you have financial worries, for example, or perhaps your physical relationship with your partner or spouse isn‘t as you would like it to be; or maybe you want to make plans for your funeral or how you are cared for during your dying days. It can be hard even to imagine finding the right words never mind actually say them aloud to another person. And if you don‘t? If you suffer in silence? Is this of benefit? Well, yes, it saves you the embarrassment of raising a tricky subject which may result in someone else feeling equally embarrassed or leaping to judgement. But, if you pick your listener wisely - someone you sincerely trust - it may well go much better than you anticipate.

People are surprising and often, I think, much more generous and understanding than we assume. You might choose to confide in a close friend about the sensitive thing on your mind before tackling the person to whom you really need to speak - a practise run, if you like. Whether you practise first or take a deep breath and go straight in to the main event, it‘s my guess that you will feel very relieved once you‘ve taken that courageous step. Bottling things up isn‘t good for us, we all know that. We feel isolated, anxious and burdened. In speaking up, we appeal to the humanity in the other person because we reveal our own. And we give ourselves the chance to explore the matter, to find a way through we hadn‘t considered before, whether simply through the process of hearing ourselves articulate it or because our listener is able to offer an insight which had eluded us.

Apart from feeling better ourselves simply for having shared our problem, another really amazing thing can happen: you give the other person the opportunity to share their own experiences or thoughts which they, too, have been hiding for shame. You free two people for the small price of a bit of initial awkwardness. Better than any supermarket deal, no?!

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Frome, Somerset, BA11

Written by Caroline Le Vine

Frome, Somerset, BA11

Scary, isn't it, admitting you need some help and then having to find someone to help you?Making contact with a therapist for the first time is a brave step into the unknown and I welcome and applaud you for getting even this far down the track.  Most don't even make it here.  I very much...

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