Learning To Open Up Emotionally
Howdy! A Portland, OR native, I currently reside in the northern San Diego County area as a freelance writer. When I'm not sipping coffee, soaking up some rays and writing or playing guitar you can find me at the hot yoga studio.
Every time I get together with my friends, my heart feels a little lighter.
Even if we’ve only been together for a short time, we leave feeling like we’ve just spent the day with family.
I’m talking about our friends. We’ve shared something special.
Now we don’t have to try to act cool or hide the depth of our own feelings.
Our relationships have progressed from superficial to solid.
But what are the reasons behind this relationship change?
A lot of it has to do with the physical, mental, and emotional support I get from my friends.
It’s easier to share my own experiences with these people. They know me. They know my stories.
I don’t feel like I need to explain myself anymore.
My friends don’t have to pretend to be interested in what I’m doing. My friends know that I know.
They don’t try to get involved. They let me live my life the way I do.
I’m also better able to express my own emotions with my friends. It’s not that I can’t be sad or lonely.
It’s just that I’m more comfortable admitting it to my friends.
You, too, can have a similar experience
This may seem obvious, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people start the process of growing emotionally and relating well with others by not sharing anything personal with their friends and loved ones.
But that’s exactly how you kill relationships. By keeping them vague, avoiding your true feelings, and keeping everything bottled up.
Sharing a few deep, personal stories can help you build emotional intimacy with those you love.
The more emotional, personal things you share with your friends, the better.
You’ll develop a deeper connection because you’ll no longer be concerned about what they will think of you. You’ll know they love you unconditionally.
The more you open up emotionally, the more you’ll love, feel loved, and have deep, meaningful relationships.
How do you learn to open up?
A few ways:
1. Sit with and reflect on your emotions
The key to opening up emotionally is awareness. It’s something you can’t avoid, but you can work on.
That awareness can come from being self-aware, reflective, and vulnerable.
When you begin to consider your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, it can help you connect with your thoughts.
And, as you do so, you begin to feel.
That’s why it’s a good idea to do a daily practice of journaling.
A journal is a great place to examine your thoughts and see where your thinking goes wrong. It’s a place to practice being self-aware.
The more you allow yourself to observe your thoughts and feelings, the more comfortable you’ll become sharing your authentic feelings.
This can take time.
As you work at self-awareness, you’ll learn about your thoughts and feelings, and begin to feel more emotions.
However, if you want to change your emotional state, the first step is the most important:
2. Practice having difficult conversations
This is one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life.
It’s the thing that changed me the most, the thing that helped me build my emotional intimacy with those I love.
It’s the thing that helped me build deep, meaningful, and intimate relationships with my friends that I love.
This lesson taught me a few things about myself, my friends, and my own personal growth.
I started having difficult conversations with my friends and loved ones.
I started examining myself, my life, and what I really wanted.
I started learning how to ask questions about what I wanted, and what my friends wanted.
I started learning how to share my feelings.
For me, the biggest part of the hard conversations was learning how to voice my emotions.
Learning how to find and express those emotions, and asking for what I wanted.
Learning to be vulnerable, and putting myself out there.
Learning to be vulnerable.
And asking for what I wanted.
In other words, this wasn’t easy. It wasn’t something I could learn overnight. But, the biggest difference was in me.
I had to learn to be vulnerable.
You may be in a difficult situation. It may be that you are thinking about someone in the wrong, that they don’t like you, and so on.
Rather than avoiding the conversation or trying to hide it, try this exercise:
- What are you afraid of saying?
- What’s holding you back?
- And what do you think you need to know?
- Are they going to hate you, or be angry with you?
- What are you afraid of?
- Have you created a negative story about the other person, and what you are afraid to say?
- What questions are you asking yourself?
- What are you afraid of hearing?
- What will be the consequences?
- What if they say no, or don’t want to hear it?
- How will that affect your happiness?
- Do you care?
- What will you do?
- What are the stakes?
Your fears, your regrets, your grief, and your anxiety.
All that will be out there.
You can’t pretend to see it.
And that’s okay.
The discomfort is there, but it’s important to know how to navigate through it, and through it, you’ll find your answers.
I’ve had to do this with my family members. I’ve had to do this with my best friends.
I’ve had to do it with my close partners.
And I’ve had to do it with many of my colleagues.
And I’ve been fortunate enough to have colleagues, and friends who let me, and were there for me when I needed it.
Here are a few books on this topic:
- Acknowledging Your Fears & Embracing Change
- Listening to Your Body and Embracing Change
- You and Your Emotions – The Ego is Not Enough
- Practice Makes Perfect – When to Break the Silence
3. Create an emotional community
Emotional intimacy isn’t just the ability to be vulnerable with our friends.
It also means to be connected. To feel and share that.
To be vulnerable with someone, you have to be connected to them.
Some of my favorite people in my life aren’t the people I’ve known the longest, or have the best job, or have the coolest, hottest car.
They are the people who never judged me. They’re the people who saw me before I was perfect.
They’re the people who saw me struggle and taught me to rise.
They are the people who laughed with me and cried with me.
They are my tribe.
You have to have an emotional community around you.
You need people around you who will embrace you, give you the space to get vulnerable, and accept you where you are.