Sitting at the table, you listen to everyone’s chatter floating around you. You are fully engaged in the conversation, but either you don’t know what to say or how to say it. You don’t want to be the odd person out. Yet, you have some trepidation with speaking to others comfortably about what is going in your life. Fears of being judged for being different abound.
You keep quiet and keep your head down. Your work is done well but often times others are getting the credit simply because they are more likable than you. You have all these opinions about what to do next on every subject but you say nothing. You feel hurt when others describe you as a quiet person because in your mind you are talking all the time. But you know in your heart of hearts that no one is going to want to hear what you have to say or will be surprised by it if they do.
Oftentimes, we are afraid to be ourselves in new situations or around new people that we just aren’t used to being around due to possible perceptions of being judged poorly. Though, most of the time, what we think we are going to be judged poorly for is not the case and will simply go unnoticed. Part of learning to be vulnerable with others is learning to confront our shame and how we have experienced it in the past.
You are a long way from home and you don’t have anything to be ashamed of now. Let’s talk about a few different steps that could make you feel more comfortable opening up to others.
At the beginning of a new journey, you need to feel centered. To feel centered you need to love and accept all of yourself. This means all of it. There are always parts of us that we wish were different or that we feel we need to change. So, we deny these parts of ourselves and don’t talk about or reflect on those aspects too often. All of it belongs. No matter what adjective you use to describe those aspects of yourself, it is all a part of you. And who you are is important and needed in this world.
When you accept and love yourself in that way, It will make it easier taking that next step forward in opening up to others. It may not take all the fear away but it will allow you to feel rooted in yourself to put a foot forward.
Know Your Why
It’s always easier making the first step when you know the reason why you are doing it. Before going into a social situation that you would like to open up in, visualize how you would like it to be. Why do you want to be open with these people in this social setting? What do you need or want from them? How would you like to show up as? What is the top word that you would want to embody? Write this down before the meeting in your journal. This way it sticks in the back of your mind how you would like to show up in this situation. Then after it, reflect and write in your journal again about what you learned from the interaction good and bad.
If you are able to have a mission or a greater goal, it will make it easier to give yourself the courage to be vulnerable. We are able to externalize to some extent why we are forcing ourselves to go into more intimidating situations, have uncomfortable feelings, and then having to manage those feelings.
It can be exhausting, in the beginning, to open up consistently because of having to manage these uncomfortable feelings so knowing your “why” is important to be able to have the endurance to keep moving forward. Over time it will feel more natural. There may be some excitement before entering the situation similar to that of an actor right before stepping on stage but the important part is that it will feel more exciting than nerve-wracking eventually.
Pro Tip: Journaling
Journaling, in general, is a great tool to help you visualize how you want a situation to go and what outcomes you would like to have from that situation. It helps you get clarity on your “why” and what steps you will need to take to get where you want to be.
Learning From Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
Opening up means that you take a certain amount of risk with others. This means sometimes the risk is going to work out and sometimes it will not. You will learn from all of this. It will help you to learn to read people and will allow people to be able to read you. You want to attract positive people in your life and sometimes that means repealing the people that are going to waste your time.
If you want more positivity in your life, you need to display that same positivity. This means taking a chance on the unknown. You do not need to reveal all your deepest darkest secrets. This means that if someone asks you how your day has been, you give them something more than “good” or fine.”
It also does not mean that you have to only talk about sunshine and butterflies. You can admit to your mistakes and shortcomings. Laughing about them. Humor, additionally, brings people closer together.
When you begin to open up, you will soon find that others will feel more comfortable opening up to you. You will also find that people will remember you more when you need them to more often.
When you learn to get out of your comfort zone, you further develop yourself. You become a better you. Sure, there will be growing pains. But in the long run, it will be of more benefit to you to do it than not.
And By the Way!
My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!