Bottling Problems, Does It Help?
Problems don’t discriminate. We all experience our fair share of difficulties and adversity. But in handling problems, at times, it seems that the best, easiest and simplest option is to just “bite the bullet” and keep those problems buried away inside. Why bring about further stress and heartache by talking about our issues? Let’s simply bottle them all up and continue on with life…right?
“When you have a problem, there is an emotion attached to it. So a lot of people think that ‘If I bottle it up, then it’s gone’. The problem is not gone. That is actually the secret about emotions, they don’t go away. [If] you bottle them up, eventually, they will come up, one way or the other, and in most cases they don’t come up in the right way.”
99FM’s MYD Heart spoke to Namibian Clinical Psychologist and University of Namibia Lecturer of Psychology, Eunice Gonzo, who explains that the worst we can do for ourselves is to bottle everything up. She notes that although in recent years, the number of Namibians realising the value of psychological help and intervention has definitely improved, there still remains a large number of Namibians who don’t get the relevant therapy or counselling required. It is, in part, a result of stigmatisation of mental health issues such as the commonly held perception that if one sees a psychologist, then one is simply crazy.
Gonzo explains that Namibia’s high suicide, depression and domestic violence rate are all good examples of the tendency of Namibians to bottle-up their emotions. “Not enough people understand the importance of actually expressing your emotions, and expressing them in the right format and the right way” she explains. “When you have a problem, there is an emotion attached to it. So a lot of people think that ‘If I bottle it up, then it’s gone’. The problem is not gone. That is actually the secret about emotions, they don’t go away. [If] you bottle them up, eventually, they will come up, one way or the other, and in most cases they don’t come up in the right way.”
Covering up emotional pain and distress is merely a delay mechanism, which will result in the mental and emotional distresses resurfacing in one’s life, even sometimes manifesting themselves as physical illness.
“In therapy one is taught to look at the problems as a challenge, an opportunity for growth”
Why then should we invest our time and money into seeking out assistance in our mental health? The benefits are innumerable. Speaking to a therapist doesn’t imply insanity, but simply that one could be experiencing a problem which is overwhelming their coping mechanisms. “The mind is one of the biggest aspects of a human being. You can find someone who is physically ill, but if in their mind they still believe and have the strength, they can overcome, but if you are defeated in the mind then physically you are also defeated.” says Gonzo.
In speaking to a therapist, the mental tools required in enabling an individual to overcome their problems are imparted. Eunice notes, “You are able to openly speak about your problems in a very confidential setting, where someone has unconditional positive regard for you and helps you map out what is wrong and what are the interventions to ensure that you are able, not only to solve that problem, but solve future problems when they come your way.” She added that the real issue is not the circumstance or problem, but the individual’s manner of thinking about it and approaching it. As human beings, we are often times not able to change or control our problems, but what we do have the capacity to change is the way which we think about and regard our problems. “In therapy one is taught to look at the problems as a challenge, an opportunity for growth”.
Therapy and counselling are vital in allowing ourselves and our minds the best environment in which to foster space for mental healing. However, there is indeed much room for awareness regarding mental health and the various methods that improve our mental health. The ultimate hope is that this greater understanding into mental health will better equip the Namibian man and woman to live to their full potential and thrive in their health both physically and mentally.
Article written by Ndayola Ulenga