I don't Know How To Talk About Myself : The Art Of Handling A Conversation

I don't Know How To Talk About Myself : The Art Of Handling A Conversation

© iStock

We're talking about the type of people who do not share  the smallest detail of their private life. They hate to talk about themselves and always divert the conversation, at the risk of cutting themselves off from others. What silences them? And how to teach them to say I?


  1. A lack of self-esteem
  2. Silence as an education
  3. What to do ?
  4. Their solution

She is the one who listens, who comforts, who makes people laugh when things are not going well. At 43, Lætitia feels above all very isolated: “My relationships are distorted because I never talk about myself. My friends don't know who I am. Even my companion only knows my life in outline. His explanation? “I'm always afraid of getting in the way or boring. So I don't say anything, I change the subject when I'm asked questions. And no one realizes it”: you don't see someone who doesn't want to be seen. Or else we attribute our discretion to shyness.

Except that even the shyest of us end up opening up when we feel confident. Laetitia, never. And there are many in his case: “They avoid any face-to-face, so as not to have to tell each other, explains the psychiatrist Gérard Macqueron. Or, on the contrary, they talk incessantly, wrongly and through. But to say nothing and hide better. In both cases, their suffering is as deep as it is concealed. “We are social beings, we need exchange and sharing, underlines the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Alain Braconnier. Which implies a gift of oneself. Not achieving this is always painful, especially in an age that overvalues ​​self-expression. »

A lack of self-confidence

Talk about me, yes, but what for? Why say anything at all ? "Many patients begin their session on this question," notes the psychoanalyst. It's always very difficult to talk about yourself which, requires  sufficient self-esteem and inner security. The more we lack, the less we reveal ourselves. Lætitia speaks of “the fear of being judged, surrounded: if I reveal my weaknesses, I fear that they will be used against me”.

“People who are insecure perceive the other as threatening. The expression “indulging” takes on a terribly distressing meaning. “An anxiety of intrusion, in particular “for those whose private space has always been invaded. The best protection then remains the closed door on what they are”. But conversely, "those in whom we are not interested, children, often become adults who consider themselves unworthy of interest", summarizes for his part the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Pierre Lévy-Soussan. So they give way to each other.

An education in silence

“Some were brought up in a culture of secrecy, and no longer know how to measure the degrees of intimacy. They are afraid of revealing everything if they start talking. Why this overestimation of the weight of words? “Speech is the expression of the relationship with the other, recalls Pierre Lévy-Soussan. If the child grows up in an environment where relations are harsh and suspicious, the word itself will be feared. It is built without learning to play with words, to laugh as to lie. So these words become too heavy, overwhelming, in a way. Their power frightens us, so we silence them. “At the table, when conversations are always limited to the weather or to 'pass me the salt', the child does not learn to express his feelings. Language is only factual, operative. Talking about oneself would then truly be a foreign language. But like all the others, it is learned. And it's never too late, say the psychologists, unanimous.

What to do ? According to a psychiatrist

“Find compromises, to talk about yourself without exposing yourself completely. The theater is a very good vector, since it allows you to express yourself while playing a role. The Internet is extraordinary enough, too, to reveal itself without being seen. But this is only a first step in opening up to others. »

What psychiatrists and psychotherapists say
“Ask yourself why. What, basically, prevents you from talking about yourself: the opinion you have of yourself? Fear of the gaze of the other?? Try to understand what power and what role you attribute to the word itself. This work on oneself is long but necessary. »

More : Timidity: how to overcome it  

Easy tips on how to flourish in relationships with others
Intimacy, a question of balance: how to resist social pressure and preserve one's secret garden .
The Daughters and Fathers : Learning to talk to each other, knowing how to listen to each other: a reflection on this very special bond, based on testimonies collected during consultations  .

How to fit it

Bob, 34 years old
“One day, it just came out. During a family reunion where I was still about to shut up. A silly joke from my brother… And I threw it all away: me, my experience, and my relationship with them. I expected anything but their reaction: they seemed relieved to finally see me say something. Since then, I have learned to balance, between absolute silence and floods of outlet words. »

Isabella, 43 years old
“When I first moved, I had to make new friends. I met a woman, who noticed that I always returned her questions, without answering them. It became a game between us: as soon as I started a “what about you?”, I had a pledge. Laughing about it helped defuse things. And having a confidante taught me to open up to others…”