Why Sometimes It's Easier to Talk to a Stranger

It's good to talk.

Cliche as it may be, it's definitely true.

Getting stuff off our chest is such a relief, and if you've got a good support network, then sharing problems can help you find better solutions, and also bring you closer together.

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And let’s not forget the good stuff too; being able to celebrate with friends and family makes life all the richer.

But, while friends and family are an amazing resource, the truth is that there are some things we simply don’t feel comfortable telling our nearest and dearest, and that’s perfectly normal. The trouble comes if we don’t have anyone to tell it to, and it’s why having someone slightly removed from our life to talk to can be essential.  On the surface it seems nonsensical – why would it be easier to tell a complete stranger all about your life? 

But talking to a stranger, especially a therapist or counsellor, really does have benefits, here are a just a few:

They don't know you...

Obvious as it sounds, a counsellor, therapist, or even that stranger on the bus doesn’t know you, they don’t know the company you keep, they don’t know where you live, or what you’ve been up to until now. All they know is what you choose to tell them, which can be incredibly liberating. Being able to tell your story without anyone else’s point of view getting in the way means you can really focus on what’s important to you.

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They listen...

Ever had a ‘conversation’ with someone who kept interrupting? You’re not alone, and it’s an incredibly frustrating experience. Even the ones who do listen often aren’t always able to fully pay attention to what we are saying. They might be distracted by their own problems or thinking of what to say next. In everyday conversation this isn’t really a big deal. But, it you’re trying to tell someone something deeply important to you, then there is nothing worse than feeling like they’re not listening. A therapist or counsellor, on the other hand, is paying full attention to you; despite being a stranger, they are there to listen to you, and only you. Sometimes just being listened to can be transformational in itself.

They ask sensible questions...

There is nothing worse than opening up to someone about a problem, and them turning around saying ‘have you tried this?’ While it’s usually good intentioned advice, when bearing our souls, most of us aren’t looking for someone to tell us what to do; we want someone to listen. A therapist or counsellor, on the other hand, typically won’t tell you what to do, instead they ask questions, and help you figure out what to do yourself, and when you then come to realise how best to address your problem it’s an incredibly empowering experience.

They don't judge...

This may be the very best thing about speaking to a counsellor or therapist, you can speak openly and honestly about anything and everything that you may be thinking, feeling, and experiencing and  they listen without judgement. And this simple fact means you can really speak your mind without hiding any part of yourself away. It doesn’t matter if what you say sounds nonsensical, you can say it freely, your counsellor or therapist will absolutely not care. They want you to be honest, and it’s frankly freeing to be able to say whatever you think and feel with carefree abandon.

Those are just some of the reasons we think talking to a stranger, especially a mental health professional, is so valuable, and why it’s sometimes much easier than speaking openly to people close to us.

Ultimately, though, we all need a variety of people to talk to in life – we need that friend who we just talk nonsense with, we need the relative who’s always at the end of the phone to offer advice, and we need someone we can open up to completely, and sometimes that person will be a stranger.

And the best thing is, if you do need someone outside your network to talk to, there are so many options. You can book a session with a trained counsellor or psychotherapist, you could contact a charitable service such as The Samaritans, or you can talk to your GP about local support available in your area. 

Remember that you’re never on your own, if you need to talk, there’s always someone to turn to.