Speaking your mind can be difficult. The mere thought of opening up to people can freeze you in place and deter you from wanting to talk to anyone. You deserve to be closer to the people you love and make friends without any issues. It can be challenging to expose your vulnerabilities to people you want to get closer to, but trust can strengthen your relationship and make it incredibly worthwhile.

The 5 Steps to Opening Your Heart

You might have plenty of reasons for not wanting to open up to people. Something you’ve seen happen to someone else could have been holding your feelings hostage all this time, or maybe a bad experience you’ve gone through yourself makes you hesitate when you could be sharing more about yourself with new friends.

Whatever may have happened in the past, whether your fear comes from experience or speculation, you should know that your friends and family love you. Anxiety is hardly ever rational, so if your fear of opening up is rooted in it, you should work to dismantle that mindset. Others can help, so long as you attempt to let them in.

1. Find Commonalities

Even if you barely know the person you’re going to chat with, you should still try to find something in common with them. Having a shared interest means you have something to fall back on if you or your conversation partner grows uncomfortable or wants to change topics. You should continually assess the person you’re talking to and remember to express your feelings while being sensitive to theirs.

Once you’ve found a commonality, your fail-safe option, let that person know you want to talk to them. Sometimes, it can be difficult to read the body language of other people when you have anxiety. If that’s the case, you should brush up on familiar cues so you can rely on nonverbal expressions to tell you how the conversation is going. Analyzing your friend’s body language can help you understand how they’re feeling, even if they’re not expressing it verbally.

2. Write a Script

If going off the cuff frightens you, and you’re afraid of saying something you don’t want to say, it’s okay to write a script. Pretend it’s a speech you’ve written for a communications class and put all your feelings down. You can memorize it if you want to, but you may come off as stiff.

Having at least a general idea of what you wish to tell someone will prevent you from potentially oversharing and feeling embarrassed. It gives you a sort of guideline to go off of and reminds you how much you want to share with this particular person. By writing out a speech beforehand and practicing it, you can include the other person as a factor and predict which questions they will ask you.

3. Reaffirm Yourself

Affirmations work wonders. Speak kindly to plants, and they’ll grow better. Speak kindly to yourself, and you’ll know you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s okay to take care of yourself and talk about your accomplishments rather than berate yourself over mistakes and missteps.

Talking can be difficult, especially if you have social anxiety or another anxiety-related disorder that prevents you from opening up. If the situation calls for it, try power posing. Place your fists on your hips, spread your legs, and take up space. If you stand in that position for even a short period, you can appear stronger and more confident, leading you to be more successful at your task.

4. Share What You Should

You don’t need to share the most private details of your life if you aren’t feeling up to it. It’s up to you to determine how much you want to share with the person you’re talking to.

If you’re talking about something sensitive, know that it’s your business, not theirs — even if they try to pressure you into telling them more. You get to decide when you’re comfortable telling your conversation partner things, even if they’re close to you.

5. Let the Other Person Be Open

Trust is a two-way street. After opening up to someone, you may find that they want to share more of their emotions with you. Maybe they’ve gone through a similar experience and can empathize with you. If they want to share their feelings after you’ve shared yours, let them have the space to express themselves.

Friendship and camaraderie are built through trust. Getting to know one another on a personal level can improve your bond and create a lasting relationship where you understand one another on a deeper level.

Build Trust With Deeper Connections

Sharing something close to your heart means becoming vulnerable to a degree. Waiting for another person’s response to the feelings you share about a given topic or experience can be nerve-wracking, but more than likely, if they love you, they will sympathize with you.

You may feel challenged opening up at first, but expressing your feelings will help you feel calmer and closer to your loved ones in the end.

Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with an interest in mental wellbeing and growth! She is also the Editor-in-chief of Body+Mind.

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