On a scale of 1-10, how open are you?
The first number that came to your mind before you started over thinking the answer is your honest answer. No, not this one you’re now thinking of and trying to rationalize.
When was the last time you genuinely opened up to someone about your feelings, emotions or just how life is treating you in general? When was the last time you said something along the lines of “You know what, I’m not doing so great?” when a trusted friend or family member sought to know how you are doing. When was the last time you felt light after having purged yourself of any deep-seated emotions that linger within?
I will definitely be the first to admit that it is not the easiest thing in the world to open up or bare your soul to anyone. In fact, it is easier and faster to just mutter a simple “fine” when asked the usual “how are you?”.
Here are some reasons why opening up may not be your most favourite thing in the world:
1 . Fear of Being Judged/Genuine Intentions: You may be scared of being judged if you open up about what you’re going through or some of your thoughts and feelings. You may also be scared of people rejecting you if they knew parts of you that are not so visible. This may be because you have maintained some level of reputation in your immediate community and you may be concerned that opening up would get you judged. you may also be concerned about the intentions of people who asked you if you are okay regularly.
2. Personality Type: Perhaps you are more of an introvert or a “keep to yourself” kind of person who is usually on their own. You probably do not have much practice opening up or speaking about your feelings. You may have even assumed a certain “personality” to box yourself in so you don’t have to open up to people.
3. Upbringing and parental influence: Another reason why you may struggle with opening up is because maybe growing up, you were not encouraged to talk about your feelings or show any form of emotions considered as “weak”. If you cried or showed sadness, you were probably encouraged to “be strong” or “be a man”. In adulthood, you have therefore subconsciously associated speaking about your feelings or emotions/being expressive with weakness.
4. Fear of uncovering old emotional trauma: You may be terrified of opening you to people about how you’re feeling in the present moment which may be as a result of a trigger of certain traumatic experiences you’ve experienced in the past. Perhaps you’re trying to erase those experiences from your mind and you’re scared that opening up will uncover them.
5.Fear of being vulnerable: Another reason could be that you are scared of being vulnerable or baring your soul to another person. You are scared of someone else having access to your thoughts or emotions and are very guarded. Perhaps you are a very independent person and are not used to being vulnerable emotionally. Or perhaps have opened up to trusted friends or family in the past and they have betrayed your confidence and trust.
The truth is that people who struggle with opening up sometimes crave the positive feelings that come with pouring out thoughts and feelings to a trusted friend or family. If you belong to this category for any or a combination of some of the reasons listed above, here are some practical tips to help you open up. It’s not a guarantee that you’d start opening up immediately, but if these simple tips are practiced with time, there could be some positive results:
If you can learn to embrace the vulnerability of being open to others, regardless of how it turns out, you will feel more secure and satisfied in life.
“One way to become more comfortable with vulnerability is to separate your action from the outcome. You can control what you say and whom you open up to, but you can’t control their reaction or what they do. Once you realize that you aren’t responsible for how others behave or react, you may feel more free to open up.”
Vulnerability is not weakness. Seeking help is not weakness.
Remember that you’re not a burden
Often times, we resist opening up to even trusted friends or family members because we do not want to “burden them with” our “problems”. Yes, everyone has what they’re going through at different phases of life, but you are not a burden. Your “problems” are not a burden to those who love you and care about you. You are amazing, special and loved. You do not have to have everything figured out at once and this is why you need to be open to being open (see what I did there?), especially when going through a hard time.
Remember that your feelings/emotions are valid
Whatever you feel at any given time is valid. Society pressures us into having certain feelings/emotions to different phases/experiences in our lives. Remember that your thoughts, feelings are valid and just because someone else might not understand or resonate with them does not make them any less so. Remember this when next you want to shut down the idea of opening up to someone because you feel you might sound “too sensitive” or “too emotional” or like “you’re complaining”.
Be as specific as you can when communicating with others
This may be hard to do at first, but with practice, you can get positive results. When you’re communicating with others, be specific. When someone says to you, “How was your day?” don’t respond with, “Fine. Yours?” Be more open than that. Give details. Provide examples. Share stories. People will feel more connected to you (and will probably share some of their own stories) if you open up to them. Don’t be afraid of details.
Find ways to connect
If you feel that you have a circle of people you cannot open up to for a myriad of reasons, find ways to connect with others. If you take the time to learn about the world, and about others’ views of the world, you’ll have more opportunities to connect with others. Don’t be afraid to share what you know or bring up unusual topics. You’d be surprised how much you might have in common with someone else.
If you struggle to open up to others about your thoughts and feelings, allowing yourself the freedom to write your thoughts and feelings as the come to you, with no filter, can be very freeing and help you see the benefits of expression.
Journaling is an amazing way to articulate your thoughts more clearly and helps you understand in-depthly how you are feeling at any given time.A short while back, I wrote about how journaling is changing my life and some great benefits of journaling.
In time, you’ll be able to express yourself more clearly to others.
Most importantly, remember that if you’re not used to it, being open with others takes time. When you first begin opening up to people, there will probably be a lot of fumbling and bumbling and trying to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it.
It is not easy for some people open up and it may take an entire conversation (or many conversations) to really begin connecting with someone on an open level.
Be patient with yourself. Every time you’re open with someone, the door opens a little bit more.
Every little creak of the hinge is progress.
“Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset.”
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