I have a hard time opening up to people. I have a hard time being honest about my deeper feelings, even in regards to myself. I am only just starting to really admit certain things to myself and the people who need to know so I can start figuring it all out.
Everyone has things they don’t want to talk about. Things about their personality or situation or thoughts that they don’t want anyone to know. This is for those deep, professional level talks. The ones you have with an incredibly trusted friend or family member when you feel like you are going to break or to a medical doctor (psychiatrist/psychologist) or a counselor. Other forms of feeling sharing can be just as hard and will perhaps be addressed in another installment, but this if for those types of conversations.
- Comfort: This will seem innate or silly, but hear me out on the entirety of this explanation. You need to feel comfortable with whomever you are talking to. Of course you need to be comfortable to truly open up, however, this is more about realizing this is a requirement, not a wish. If you want to make real progress and have the person you are talking to understand what you mean you need to have a connection with them. Because of this the only family member I talk to about private matters is my mother. It is also why I have one specific psychologist that I have been working with on and off for years that I keep going back to.
My first psychologist, who I keep going back too even though she is no longer on my insurance, I felt a connection with immediately. My first appointment was still awful and uncomfortable, but I still wanted to see her again. I didn’t really end up talking about anything of substance until about a month in, but I was still able to talk to her about little things until I was finally ready to start opening up. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that it can be like that. I know I didn’t realize there was anything else until I tried other people.
The first different psychologist I saw, I was ready to run out the door fifteen minutes into the session. It is always uncomfortable talking to a new person like that, with them knowing why you are there and at least an inkling of what is going on in your head, but there are levels to that. If you are so uncomfortable that you want and need to stop the conversation, that you know they aren’t going to understand you, then don’t beat yourself up about it or force yourself to go again. You will never be able to open up if you aren’t comfortable enough by the end of your first session with a new person to say “Ok, I can talk to them again. They’ll understand.” If you don’t feel that way then find someone else. You don’t have to be trapped with that person.
I never went back to the women who made me feel that way and I could not have been happier about it. The things that you go deep with, that you talk to and admit to in sessions are hard enough when you are comfortable and like the person you are talking to, don’t make it harder on yourself by speaking with someone that doesn’t fit what you need.
- Trust: You need to know they will keep what you say to themselves. If you are talking to a friend or family member make sure it is someone you can trust with anything and who you know will stay quite. The advantage to someone like this is they can often offer more compassion and affection than a professional, especially in the beginning.
With a professional they are bound to secrecy unless it is something serious enough that they are worried you will hurt or kill yourself or someone else. Simply, (simply, it isn’t really a simple thing) being suicidal will not necessarily cause them to tell anyone and you should admit to these feeling if you are having them. It is when you get to the point of seriously planning and preparing that there will be an issue. However, if you admit to this before you get to that point no one else has to be the wiser if you don’t want. This is the same for self-harm, if you are not in danger of seriously hurting/killing yourself or others (as in cutting to kill) they will most likely help you work through it and stop rather than immediately getting many other people involved.
- Admittance: You don’t need to accept what you are feeling, but you do have to admit it to yourself before you can talk to anyone about it. If you haven’t realized what you are feeling, yes, other people might be able to see it, but you won’t be able to talk to them about it. You at least won’t be able to talk to them productively.
I had one thing I finally admitted to and started talking about, which the two main people I talk to apparently already knew about. I couldn’t have opened up before I admitted it to myself, but I never had to accept it.
These are the most important things for me when I try to open up about serious issues. There are more, although I can’t come up with them right now. The rest are more of a collection of little things that probably change person to person. I hope these can help.