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We Really Need to Talk

by Paul J. Donoghue, PhD, and Mary E. Siegel, PhD

Wellness image

Whether you have cancer or love someone who does, you need to talk. You have to voice your feelings of fear, discouragement, and anger, as well as feelings of relief, appreciation, and concern. You have to state your needs for attention, understanding, rest, and companionship. You have to express what you feel, what you need, what you think, and what you believe. When you don’t allow yourself to let out what roils inside your heart and in your brain, you isolate yourself, and you permit feelings and thoughts to overwhelm and depress you.

Author of Article photo

Dr. Mary Siegel

You need to talk to be heard and to be understood. So why don’t you?

You probably don’t say what you are really feeling and thinking because of fear:

  • fear that no one will listen
  • fear that no one will care
  • fear of being misunderstood
  • fear of being judged
  • fear of sounding self-pitying
  • fear of burdening others


Author of Article photo

Dr. Paul Donoghue

Fears check you from talking. Often they lead to unproductive thoughts that ensure you won’t talk about what matters most to you.

We all really need to talk. Our mental health and the quality of our relationships demand it. So ask yourself, what feelings, needs, and thoughts are you keeping from people who matter most to you? Then be open, be candid, and talk.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Dr. Paul Donoghue and Dr. Mary Siegel are the authors of Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired, Living With Invisible Chronic Illness (WW Norton 1992, 2000), and Are You Really Listening: Keys to Successful Communication (Sorin Books 2005). Their latest book is We Really Need to Talk: Steps to Better Communication (Sorin Books 2010). They are both psychologists in Stamford, CT, and as international consultants, they teach communication skills to corporations and organizations of all kinds.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2011.