My top tips to help you open up to the peo­ple around you

Gloucestershire Echo - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE - ■ You can fol­low Dr Ellie on Twit­ter: @drel­lieharper and In­sta­gram: drel­lieharper Dr Ellie Harper is a coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist WITH DR ELLIE HARPER

THERE is some­thing in­cred­i­bly mean­ing­ful about open­ing up to oth­ers emo­tion­ally and shar­ing our thoughts and feel­ings. Show­ing our true selves, say­ing “this is part of me” and trust­ing the other per­son to un­der­stand and ac­cept us can lead to deeper con­nec­tions and in­ti­macy in our re­la­tion­ships.

How­ever, the thought of open­ing up to the peo­ple around us does in­volve risk and can be highly anxiety-pro­vok­ing. What if the other per­son dis­agrees with what you have to say, doesn’t un­der­stand where you are com­ing from, mocks you or out­right re­jects you?

A re­cent study found that two thirds of peo­ple feel lonely at least some of the time. Our un­der­ly­ing fear of re­jec­tion is likely partly re­spon­si­ble for pre­vent­ing us from seek­ing out the mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions we crave.

When open­ing up to oth­ers, it’s im­por­tant to be mind­ful of the spe­cific sit­u­a­tion so you share per­sonal in­for­ma­tion ap­pro­pri­ately and get the bal­ance right. Here are my top tips for do­ing just that:


ASK your­self, how well do I know this per­son and how trust­wor­thy are they? A close friend might be happy to talk about your re­cent re­la­tion­ship prob­lems whilst a new ac­quain­tance might find this un­com­fort­able. If in doubt, start off small and build up grad­u­ally to shar­ing more per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. Re­mem­ber that prac­tice makes per­fect. If you’re not used to shar­ing your in­ner ex­pe­ri­ences with other peo­ple then this will feel odd and maybe even wrong at first.


START by prac­tis­ing shar­ing in­for­ma­tion that is rel­a­tively “safe” emo­tion­ally, such as what you have been do­ing dur­ing the week. Or if that feels too hard ini­tially, start by re­hears­ing in front of the mir­ror to give your­self prac­tice at get­ting the words out.

Fi­nally, pre­pare some ques­tions to ask the other per­son ahead of time. That way, if shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about your­self starts to feel like too much, you can ask your ques­tions and tem­po­rar­ily put the spot­light on them while you take a step back and re­group.

You can find more of my tips for open­ing up emo­tion­ally in my blog at drel­liepsy­chol­

Shar­ing can be nerve-wrack­ing

Prac­tise shar­ing your thoughts in the mir­ror

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