A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed what is and isn’t considered socially acceptable to talk about.
While 18 per cent of respondents consider the delicate topics of miscarriage and infertility to be off-limits, 25 percent say the same about personal finances.
Similarly, one in five don’t think it’s suitable to disclose their salary in social settings and the majority of those polled believe the subject of money should be completely off limits at work.
Other unacceptable conversations include drugs, sex and parenting techniques, with respondents admitting that discussing these “taboo” subjects leaves them feeling “anxious” and “nervous”.
“Not talking can seem the best short term strategy, but is a negative coping mechanism and at some point it cracks,” said clinical and counselling psychologist Tamara Licht Musso.
“Avoidance is also a classic way of coping to keep anxiety at bay, but we cannot avoid our thoughts, which is where all emotions emerge, therefore pushing back such thoughts may result in them appearing through symptoms such as difficulties with sleep.
“Taking the ‘easy’ route might seem to be the answer because the rational path – talking – puts us in a much more vulnerable position.
“In the short term this may be true, but it puts us in a healthier place in the long term.
“The fear of being judged is based on distorted thinking patterns such as jumping to conclusions and mind reading.
“For example, some people will think that by sharing their salary others may misjudge their ability.”
More than half of respondents fear they would be judged if they were to open up about personal issues.
Others keep quiet as they don’t want to share their personal lives, believe it’s rude to talk about certain things or worry about the consequences of opening up.
One in five are afraid talking about things will break up their relationship and one in 10 even fear losing their job.
However, due to avoiding discussions about an issue, nearly one-third of respondents have experienced loss of sleep and one-sixth have even suffered from mental health issues.
The majority of those polled expressed the wish that society made it easier and more acceptable to discuss these issues openly.
Lowell’s Managing Director John Pears added: “Breaking down these taboos and having open, honest conversations helps understanding, and can pave the way to finding answers to problems.
“Talking to someone is the first step, but it can obviously be difficult and many are worried, aren’t sure who can help or don’t feel they can trust someone,” said John Pears, managing director of Lowell’s, which commissioned the study.
“We know that when it comes to money or debt, people can be particularly sensitive or embarrassed about it, and customers tell us that not talking has caused them to worry more and for things to get worse, which really doesn’t have to be the case – there is help out there.”
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