A small or nonexistent social circle will deprive you of opportunities for meaningful relationships.
This lack of human connection can impact your well-being.
Is it possible that you’re closing yourself off from people?
If so, you’re making it much more challenging to develop friendships based on authenticity and closeness.
Learning to open yourself will go a long way toward solving this problem, but knowing how to open up to people may not come naturally to you.
All is not lost, though.
Techniques for becoming more open are not complicated.
- Why Can’t I Open Up To People?
- How Do You Open Up Emotionally?
- 9 Ways to Open Up to People and Reveal Yourself More
- 1. Really Listen to People
- 2. Focus on the Moment
- 3. Commit to Saying Something Specific About Yourself
- 4. Latch on to Shared Interests
- 5. Be Yourself
- 6. Don’t Be Judgmental
- 7. Adjust Your Body Language
- 8. Nurture Connections With People You Already Know
- 9. Celebrate Your Successes
- Small Changes Lead to Big Rewards
Why Can’t I Open Up To People?
Opening up to people can make you feel vulnerable and insecure. Most of us tend to avoid these feelings because we don’t want to expose ourselves to judgment and other negative reactions.
There are countless reasons why someone might struggle with vulnerability and communication, but we’ve distilled them down to some common barriers. By understanding these obstacles, you can work towards overcoming them and become more open in your relationships.
- Fear of Rejection: It’s natural to worry about how others will react when we share our thoughts and feelings. Fear of rejection can make us hesitant to open up, as we may believe that our vulnerability will be met with disapproval or dismissal.
- Lack of Trust: Trust is a crucial component in any relationship. If you’ve been burned in the past, it can be hard to let your guard down and trust others with your emotions. This lack of trust can keep you from fully opening up and forming deeper connections.
- Low Self-Esteem: Sometimes, our own insecurities can hold us back. When we don’t feel worthy of love or acceptance, it can be difficult to believe that others genuinely care about our thoughts and feelings, leading to a reluctance to open up.
- Unresolved Trauma: Past traumas, such as abuse or neglect, can create emotional barriers that prevent us from connecting with others. Without addressing these issues, it can be nearly impossible to feel comfortable opening up and sharing our true selves.
- Desire for Control: In some cases, the need for control can be a significant factor. By keeping our feelings to ourselves, we may feel like we’re maintaining control over our lives and emotions. This can make it challenging to let go and be vulnerable with others.
- Cultural or Social Conditioning: Our upbringing and cultural background can play a major role in how open we are with others. In some cultures, expressing vulnerability is considered a weakness, while in others, it’s celebrated. This can influence our willingness to open up and share our emotions.
- Lack of Communication Skills: Finally, a lack of communication skills can make it difficult to express ourselves effectively. When we don’t have the tools to clearly articulate our thoughts and feelings, we may struggle to open up to others, even when we want to.
Other common reasons people can’t open up include:
- Fear of embarrassment
- Anxiety about judgment
- A belief that all people are mean
- Previous betrayals in life
How Do You Open Up Emotionally?
Open people don’t overthink what the reactions of people will be when they share about themselves.
On the other hand, you may avoid revealing your inner world and authentic self because you imagine devastating scenarios of rejection or ridicule.
Although we all need to filter what we share somewhat, a moderate expression of your honest thoughts and feelings will not ruin your life.
To start the process of opening up:
- Accept that it’s necessary for making friends
- Go beyond one or two-word answers when people try to talk to you
- Choose a kind person to try opening up to
9 Ways to Open Up to People and Reveal Yourself More
How do you start opening up to someone? These tips will help you pry open the door to your personality instead of holding it shut like you always do.
1. Really Listen to People
Analyzing what you might say and the response to your words could distract you from opportunities to participate in a conversation. When you listen to people, you could hear something that you can relate to.
Then you could say, “Oh, I know how that feels,” and describe what happened to you. This exchange could build a connection.
The person feels heard and learned that you shared in the feeling.
2. Focus on the Moment
Closing yourself off is a way to protect yourself from consequences, like acknowledging your own feelings or risking others’ judgment.
When you stay in the moment, you free yourself from the restraint of predicting every possible outcome. We all need to express ourselves at times, and it’s OK to let it flow out when you’re with someone willing to listen.
3. Commit to Saying Something Specific About Yourself
You’ve sheltered yourself behind the safety of generic answers like “I’m fine” for too long. The next time someone asks how you’re doing, try to say something real.
You don’t have to bare your soul, but you could say something honest like, “I wish I had gotten a better night’s sleep.”
The point is not to bury your reality with little white lies. If your dog died last week and you’re feeling sad, answer the question truthfully and say, “I’m still sad about losing my dog.”
4. Latch on to Shared Interests
Teaching yourself to be a more transparent person doesn’t have to start with revealing your most personal secrets. You transform yourself with small steps, and shared interests allow you to express your authentic views.
If someone likes motorcycles and you do too, it represents a foundation for having an interesting conversation and building a friendship.
The shared interest could be anything, like authors, television shows, going to auctions, or fishing.
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5. Be Yourself
This is the hard one, isn’t it? You guard yourself so closely because you worry people will reject you.
You might assume that no one cares to know anything about you. Some people do care if you give them a chance.
Don’t be fake just to fit in. That’s not opening yourself and making a connection. Say what you honestly think, as long as you’re not hurting feelings, so that people have a chance to get to know you.
6. Don’t Be Judgmental
Connecting with people relies on them feeling accepted and safe. You don’t necessarily have to agree with someone, but you should not make a person feel judged.
Being an open person involves a willingness to be accepting of other people’s views and feelings. It’s supposed to be a reciprocal process. Essentially, don’t give people a reason to shut you out as you try to open up yourself more.
7. Adjust Your Body Language
Are you always looking for the exit? Do you cross your arms or look down when people try to talk to you?
Body language immediately communicates whether you are open or not. Your habit of guarding your inner self will be evident in your body.
Try to shift your body into a more open posture. Face people. Relax your arms. Lean forward a bit when someone talks. You might be surprised how far the mind can follow when the body leads.
8. Nurture Connections With People You Already Know
When you long for human support with a problem, do you hesitate to reach out because you don’t want to bother a person with your turmoil?
To avoid this situation, you should stay in touch with people in casual ways that are low stakes. Invite a co-worker to take a lunch break with you. Talk to your siblings every week if you can.
Regular interactions when everything is fine make it easier to reach out for emotional support when you’re struggling with burdensome feelings.
9. Celebrate Your Successes
Pat yourself on the back when you achieve one of your “opening up” goals. If you shared a genuine feeling with someone, then mark that down as a victory.
Mentally review how it felt to connect with someone. The feeling was probably positive. Hold on to that feedback to stay motivated to keep seeking out the human connection you need.
Small Changes Lead to Big Rewards
Learning to open yourself up does not mean forsaking your privacy. You can take time to contemplate your feelings and decide how much to share, but don’t stay in the phase of thinking things through by yourself.
You should not discount the benefits of opening up to someone. That person might have a perspective that helps you feel better or even solves your problem.
The Psychology of Opening Up to People
Psychologists at the University of Mannheim in Germany have identified through research studies a difference between how we experience our own vulnerability and the vulnerability in others.
Multiple studies indicated that people see their openness as a very concrete threat, but they view other people’s openness as an abstract issue.
The abstraction lessens their perception of it as a problem in others. Overall, the expression of vulnerability built trust between people, increased forgiveness, and deepened relationships.
So it’s clear that being open and vulnerable in the right circumstances can improve your life and relationships.
If you think that you’re just unable to open up to people at all, then maybe talking to a therapist is a good step.
A therapist can help you uncover the issues holding you back from experiencing a rich life with supportive relationships. The effort will reward you if you keep trying.