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It relieves to talk about your challenges! But how do you do such a thing?

Daily life | 4 Minutes

We all know moments when we feel less about ourselves, no one can escape that. Still, we prefer to keep our inner world to ourselves, while it can be a great relief to share our thoughts and emotions with others. The question is: how do you do that, and with whom?


Your head is working overtime, you worry, you feel emotional... It is completely normal and human to feel this way from time to time, yet most of us have great difficulty showing this to anyone else. "Hey, how are you?", "I’m fine!".


How nice would it be if you didn't always have to pretend to be okay?


It always seems to be going "well", especially if you can believe all Instagram and LinkedIn feeds, but of course that is an illusion. How nice would it be to be able to honestly talk about your concerns now and then, to not always have to pretend everything is okay and to gain appreciation for who you really are? Your heart will be relieved. And the great thing is: you can train yourself to do this.


Why do we find it so difficult to share our feelings?

We all have our struggles, no one can escape from that. Then why do we have so much trouble expressing ourselves and confiding in someone else? “The main reason for this is that we simply haven't learned it,” explains OpenUp psychologist Zoila Knel. “It is not like we had lessons about it in school and most of our parents didn’t teach us either. In our Western society we are used to keeping our feelings and emotions to ourselves and resolving our issues ourselves. ”


"In fact, we don't get enough incentive to share our feelings"


In addition, you see that there is usually no room for our feelings, for example at work. “For behavior that we do not know or do not regularly perform, we need an 'invitation' from our environment, but that is often missing,” says Zoila. "We don't get the stimulus in adult life to break the ice and open up more." So we prefer to keep our feelings inside.


“A negative experience of sharing your feelings can also cause a blockage,” Zoila continues. “Suppose you have ever chosen the wrong person to express your feelings, to someone who, for example, has not taken you seriously or has let you down. You will not be vulnerable again soon. ”


Why is it so important to be vulnerable?

The trick is to avoid getting stuck in repeating thoughts. We all know that if you are concerned about something and you start thinking about it, you quickly end up in a worrying circle. “Just worrying is normal and completely okay, but if you linger in it for too long, it can have a major impact on your emotional state,” says Zoila. She also sees this in practice. "When you are not able to express your feelings, this can lead to feelings of fear and gloom, but also to burnout complaints. For example: grinding thoughts can take away all your energy."


"It sounds so cliché, but it really works: speaking your mind relieves"


So it is important to break the circle. A walk, a warm shower or an hour of exercise can help very well, but if the same worrying thoughts keep coming back, it is good to express your feelings. It sounds like a cliché: speaking your mind relieves. However, it really works like that. By expressing your feelings, you literally let go of them. Another person can also help you broaden your outlook and shine a new light on the situation.


However, making yourself vulnerable does not mean that you have to share everything that goes on in your emotional life with everyone. But when you notice that you are spinning around in your head and you cannot figure it out yourself, it is important to break this pattern by confiding in someone else.


Break the worrying cycle: how to open up?

If you are not used to talking to others about your feelings, it can be uncomfortable and difficult at first. “It sounds like a big deal, but the trick is to do it,” says Zoila. "That's exciting, you have to get out of your comfort zone, but that's where we can change and grow." How do you open up and where do you start? Three tips for a quick start:


Three tips for a quick-start: ‘how to open up’.


1. Start small

We often set very high standards for ourselves and we want to achieve the highest possible immediately, but it is best to take small steps. Make it as easy as possible for yourself and start with something small, you don't have to expose your whole soul right away. Share your concerns with a good friend and see how (well) that goes. By achieving small "successes", you will see that it becomes easier for you to open up. So don't set the bar too high and remember: practice makes perfect.


2. Choose someone you feel comfortable with When you confide in someone else, it is important that you feel safe and secure with him or her. To do this, check with yourself whether you like the behavior of the other person. Suppose you want to confide in someone at work, observe that person carefully. How does he (or she) behave during meetings, how does he talk about others, or about his own feelings? Someone who gossips a lot is probably not the person with whom your story is safe. Of course, this also applies to your private circle: take a good look at who you feel comfortable with and who is suitable to confide in. That increases the chance of a good experience.


3. What would you like to change? Tell the other! Before telling what is in your heart, turn inward to feel what you need and what your expectation is from a conversation. Do you want a listening ear, are you rather looking for advice or do you need a strict mirror? Please let your conversation partner know in advance. If you don't express your needs, the outcome can be unpleasant for you and the other. Turn it around: it is very nice to know if someone asks you to be a listening ear, then you do not have to think about possible advice and solutions. Expressing your needs immediately takes pressure off and ensures that you start the conversation more relaxed.


If you want to learn more about this topic and practice more, look at the How to OpenUp program. You can go through this yourself or together with a psychologist from OpenUp.


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