Dollar Gill

18 Therapists Discuss Something People Tell Them They’re Ashamed Of, But Is Actually Normal

Perhaps the main role of a therapist is to identify a client’s problems when they’re either avoiding them or in complete denial about them. But often the opposite is true—someone is shame-ridden about, or reluctant to even discuss, a problem which is common and perhaps even healthy. Here are 19 cases where a therapist has had to advise a patient that what they feared was a problem isn’t really a problem at all.

1. “Doing Better Than Their Friends”

Improving their life when people around them are still not doing well. It’s easy for people to feel ashamed or guilty when they start making positive changes but see their friends and family not doing the same.


2. “Doing Worse Than Their Friends”

I’ve gotten a lot of clients complaining about how their friends and acquaintances have ‘passed them by’ in terms of career, romantic relationships, etc. The reality is a lot of people feel that way but also can become successful at any point.


3. “Mixed Feelings When A Loved One Dies”

“Mixed or even positive feelings when a loved one dies after a protracted illness. Especially someone who hung on for a long time, very sick and suffering, or an older relative with dementia. There’s often a feeling of relief, of ‘at least that’s over.’ It’s perfectly normal and it doesn’t mean you didn’t love the person.”

4. “Impostor Syndrome”

I’ve had patients describe their impostor syndrome in great detail and are genuinely surprised when I say everyone feels like that, myself included sometimes.


5. “They Don’t Know What They Enjoy Doing”

“That they do not know what they enjoy doing. Often they have people in their life, including therapists, say, ‘Try to do something fun today’ or ask, ‘What do you like to do when you have free time?’ Many people I work with do not know what those are.”


6. “Feeling Conflicted When Their Abusive Caregiver Faces Consequences”

“Feeling conflicted when a caregiver who abused them is exposed/faces consequences. Many express feeling bad for them because this person abused them, but they also took care of them, provided for them, etc.”


7. “Refusing To Talk About Their Strengths”

“I’ve had many clients who hate/refuse to talk about their strengths or what they like about themselves.”


8. “Intrusive Thoughts”

“Having intrusive thoughts (thinking about steering into oncoming traffic is a popular one). Also, when they’re talking about inner dialogue, people fear I’d consider them psychotic.”


9. “Making Things Up”

“I think when people admit that they sometimes make things up, and they’re not sure why. Sometimes this spirals into stories they have to ‘keep up.’ Especially teenagers, often in the context of talking about negative mental health. Then, parents ‘catch them being happy,’ and they feel they must feel down to ‘keep up appearances.’”


10. “They Regret Having Kids”

“They regret having kids or weren’t instantly attached to their child when they were born. It’s a lot more common than people think, but the subject is extremely taboo and is not often is discussed due to the shame and guilt that comes with it.”


11. “Relapsing Into Addiction After Quitting”

“When you’re recovering from an addiction, it’s nothing to be ashamed of if you lapse or relapse. It’s a part of quitting. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and it doesn’t mean it’s hopeless to try.”


12. “Running Away From Home”

“Running away from home. It’s a common fantasy to have as a teenager.”


13. “Debt”

“How much debt they have and the anxiety that it creates it for them.”


14. “Shame About Fighting With Their Partner”

“Most of my experience is with married couples. Almost everyone is ashamed of fighting, but everyone fights. In fact, conflict can be very healthy for a relationship provided that both people know how to process emotions and work towards resolutions.”


15. “Suicidal Thoughts”

“I get the impression that suicidal thoughts are common, explained as ‘then I won’t have to suffer anymore.’ Fear and anxiety are two monsters that shape themselves to fit the person experiencing them, but both are also common.”


16. “The Pandemic Blues”

That things have gotten worse for them over the pandemic. People are still holding themselves to pre-pandemic standards for stress, loneliness, and frustration (on top of already personalizing ‘failures’ that are actually societal problems like wage stagnation, inflation, civil rights erosion, etc.)


17. “Being Angry At Loved Ones”

“Being angry at loved ones….I get A LOT of people who feel like they’re a bad person for being angry with friends or family, so they just try to hide it.”


18. “Wasting Their Free Time”

In the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of people ‘admitting’ that they’re not ‘productive’ with their free time. They say things like, I should be cleaning, exercising, taking a second job, or doing some kind of income producing hobby during their free time….IT’S OK TO WATCH NETFLIX WITH YOUR FREE TIME.