When someone asks how you’re doing, it can be almost automatic to say, ‘I’m fine’, even when there’s much more going on inside. Generally, we prefer to show others the ‘best’ version of ourselves, hiding our inner thoughts and feelings for fear of judgement. Or we might fear rejection, afraid of what people will think if they see what’s really going on inside.
Support with drinking
How to feel less ashamed and open up to people you trust
Confiding in someone can help if you’re going through difficult times or perhaps you’re worried about your relationship with alcohol. While it can be daunting, there are ways to make it feel possible, says Dr Jessamy Hibberd.
When things go wrong, it can feel easier to stay quiet about what's happened. Too often, we try to cover up these experiences and conceal the parts of ourselves we’re unhappy with – and this creates distance from the people who care about us. Yet sharing challenges and admitting that life can be tough are the characteristics that make us more relatable and likeable. After all, it’s hard to feel close to someone when they project an image of being strong and invulnerable.
Showing vulnerability is not something to fear, but something to embrace. Unique traits and flaws are what make us alive and human. It’s only by accepting all of yourself that you can become comfortable with who you are.
Show yourself compassion
The first step to feeling less ashamed is to look at how you’re speaking to yourself and to find self-compassion. If you’re not being kind to yourself, it can be harder to open up to others. A compassionate approach means treating yourself kindly and taking a warm, non-judgemental approach. It means recognising specific examples of our strengths and progress, and identifying areas we need to improve. It means taking responsibility for our behaviour – even when it’s bad – and accepting ourselves as human. This allows us to see things clearly and stops us from getting stuck in repeated destructive behaviours.
See your vulnerability as a strength
When you’re going through difficulty, it can feel like you’re the only one. You might presume that because other people look OK from the outside, they must be keeping it together. In reality, your fears and doubts are likely to be very similar to theirs. Not feeling good or on top of everything at all times doesn’t make you incompetent, it just means you’re human. Knowing this can make it much easier to open up yourself.
Find the right person to talk to
Think about who you’ll feel most comfortable with. You don’t have to be open with everyone you know, but it’s important to trust those closest to you. It’s important for your outer world and your inner world to be in sync with each other. Talking through your thoughts and feelings allows you to process what’s going on and to gain support.
Consider how you feel when someone opens up to you
It can feel daunting to open up to someone else or you might worry that you’re a burden, but stop and think about how you feel when others open up to you. Do you see them as weak or brave? Do you judge them if they’re having a difficult time? Sharing challenges builds a stronger connection in your relationship as you show you can trust and rely on the person in whom you’re confiding. Sharing our experiences can also help us feel less alone.
Keep at it, it’ll get easier
The first few times you open up to others, it’ll probably feel hard and really uncomfortable. If you’ve never done it before, it’s natural to feel awkward at first, but give yourself time. Like anything new, it’ll take practise. The good news is, the more you do it the easier it’ll become. It will also have the added benefit of meaning your friends become more in tune with you and will be more likely to check-in or follow up on previous conversations. If you’re finding it hard to find the right words, try taking some time each evening to write down how your day was, as well as any thoughts and feelings. This will help you understand yourself and spot any recurring patterns.