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When somebody asks you directly about difficult times in your life how do you structure an answer?

15 Answers
Last Updated: 11/05/2019 at 12:04am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Polly Letsch, LCSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I provide non-judgmental, person-centered, objective therapeutic treatment for individuals of all ages to improve social, emotional, mental and other areas of functioning.

Top Rated Answers
May 23rd, 2015 7:30pm
There are times when we might be asked some questions that make us feel uncomfortable, but curiosity is a natural human state and when people ask similar questions, this can imply that they care about us and want to get to know us better, or want to connect to us and perhaps also share, but it could also be out of simple curiosity. Nevertheless, it is up to us to establish boundaries and decide whether we feel comfortable sharing about difficult times with that particular person, or with others in general. If we feel comfortable, we might prefer to open up completely or share some things that we find relevant in conversation. We can control how much we say and we can always let them ask questions about what they are most interested in and decide whether we want to answer particular questions or share details. On the other hand, we might not feel comfortable sharing immediately and might feel like we need some time before feeling safe to open up or before we establish trust in relationship with this particular person. If this is the case, we might decide to excuse ourselves out of situation and explain that we do not feel comfortable answering that question, but that we might feel fine talking about it another time when we feel different about it, and do not feel pressured. If we do not feel comfortable sharing about these times at all, this is perfectly fine and understandable and we can chose to not answer the question. We might prefer to explain that we do not feel comfortable, but if not, this is also fine and we do not need to justify our choices. So although there is no one best way to handle similar situations, we can always self-evaluate and make sure that what we decide to do is within our limits and comfort zones and that we feel comfortable in situation and do not feel pressured.
November 20th, 2017 3:44am
Answer honestly, even if you're honestly uncomfortable with the question, let them know that. Remember that you have complete control over what you tell this person, and that you're not obligated to tell them your life story. It's okay to say "I'd rather not talk about that," or "That makes me uncomfortable, can we talk about somehting else?" or "Thanks for asking but it's so stressful I almost don't know how to answer that." Otherwise, if you do want to tell them about your difficulties, you can be as detailed or general as you like. You could say something like, "The difficult times in my life have been ___" with an description like "...have been a struggle" or a list of what has been ailing you like "...have been school, finances, some family drama," for example. Answering honestly is a good way to determine which people are worth interacting with and which ones are not. You win either way. If the person sympathizes with your honesty, they are good to keep around. If the person reacts oddly to you either being uncomfortable about the question or to the struggles that you choose to outline, then who cares about that person? They asked. They ought to respect the answers whatever they are and show their support. Good luck!
March 6th, 2018 10:01pm
Well, it depends on whether or not you feel comfortable answering their question. If you do want to talk about it then you start little by little. You don't have to tell them everything that happened but a brief "summary" about it then eventually, with more time, you can go more in-depth about it. Otherwise, if you feel like it wasn't a appropriate time, need some time to collect your thoughts about it, or just don't want to talk about it then be verbal about that.
February 6th, 2015 11:17pm
Practice makes perfect! It can feel awkward to just open up on demand like that without any sort of context for build up. However, if the someone is asking your answer could be just the words or encouragement they need to hear. You never know what kind of impact your own story can have on others. Try writing it out, then shorten/simply it and practice saying it out loud--it really helps!
February 7th, 2015 4:46pm
A lot of factors can change how I'd personally answer this! A few things I'd consider would be how well I know and trust the person, how well they know me, where we are having this conversation, and how these questions came up. I find it's normally because they are going through something similar - and in that case I am willing to talk more knowing the sharing is reciprocal and helpful. But if we're not in a private and safe place to talk about it, I'll let them know that it's not something I want to talk about at the moment - and that gives me the power to choose when I am ready, knowing they intend to listen.
April 14th, 2015 10:04pm
It merely depends on who the person is that is asking you and why the person would ask you. I find it very hard talking about things myself and i am sure i am not the only one. If i am not comfortable in sharing something I would just tell the person I do not wish to talk about it at this moment. If you do want to share, perhaps the best way is to start with your feelings towards those difficult times and maybe how you feel it has changed you in the way you are today.
April 25th, 2015 2:44pm
I have had some very challenging times in my life, however my situation may not be the same as yours. I can not give advise based on what was best for me, since it may not be the best for you.
August 10th, 2015 3:14am
1. Think about what you want to tell them 2. Think about their perspective and sequence items in a manner that will make it easier for them to understand 3. Be honest 4. Give them time to think it over and understand 5. Be prepared for questions
August 25th, 2015 4:58am
It depends on how much you want to reveal. Some parts of our lives are private and that's okay. You could say "I don't like talking about _____". Or you could open up and start from the beginning. Start with your thoughts then your feelings on the issue.
September 29th, 2015 3:35pm
If I am ready to share it, I start from the beginning and give share the details that in the moment I find important. If I am not ready, I start from the end... which probably is the actual situation...
May 30th, 2016 8:28pm
I usually structure the answer based on my knowledge of the individual and the situation itself. It's always case by case for me.
- Expert in Managing Emotions
August 1st, 2016 5:43am
Start by telling them yes I have a difficult time now going and so.....Then tell them that you are dealing with it and need the time and space to do so on your own.
March 19th, 2018 4:50pm
When somebody asks you directly difficult times in your life you can choose where to began like in high school years, middle school years or even childhood or from your present day and working backwards.
May 15th, 2018 4:49pm
I first ask them why they want to know. This helps me see if they are seeking to judge me or understand me. If they are looking for help with their own situation, I make sure that there is a point prior to me telling my story (so it doesn't end up being a pity party). If they want to know more about me to understand where I am coming from, I will share intimate details that offer them a window into how I see the world.
November 5th, 2019 12:04am
I focus on the structure that adheres to 'Compassion-Based Therapy' which targets the following: 1) Historical influences (which past events might have lead to how you are feeling now) 2) External & Internal fears (fears/worries you have regarding yourself and that which is outside of your control) 3) Internal & External Safety/Defensive Behaviours (what you do to protect yourself from yourself and what you do to protect yourself from others) 4) Internal & External Unintended Consequences (what you think as a result of your internal emotions and how you think others might think of you based on the emotions you express when in this state) From there, you can get a good idea of the why and how of your situation.