It doesn’t matter how private a person you are. Eventually, you’ll want to share the intimate details of your life with someone. Doing so can seem terrifying.
Confessing what’s on your mind could bring you tremendous relief. If nothing else, it allows you to stop feeling uncomfortable and it could set the stage for unconditional love. are five tips for opening up to someone about something painful.
1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Despite what romantic comedies would have you believe, the right place to declare your undying love for someone probably isn’t at their wedding to someone else. Choosing the appropriate time and place for your discussion is critical.
For example, set an appointment if you plan to talk to HR about using your company’s substance abuse counseling resources — walking in without one could result in the wrong ears overhearing your private business.
If you want to open up to a loved one, like a prospective mate or a family member, please pick a day other than the scheduled family reunion or big graduation to discuss your issue. You protect your feelings. It hurts to spill your guts only to have the other person hurry off to attend to something else.
Asking to speak at another time also shows respect for your listener. You don’t want your pronouncement weighing on their mind as they walk their daughter down the aisle or celebrate the birth of their first grandchild.
2. Be Honest
If you want your listener to respect what you’re saying, show them the same courtesy by telling the truth. Please don’t worry if you feel nervous. You can transform your vulnerability into strength. It’s okay to admit how your insecurities about sharing your secret might have made you behave badly toward them in the past. Apologize sincerely for making them uncomfortable if you did.
Remember, you control how much you share. It’s one thing to talk to confidantes in private about your battle with alcohol. It’s quite another thing if someone demands to know if you’re pregnant when you refuse a beer at a party. You don’t owe anyone your secret.
3. Use “I” Language
When you open up about something painful, it’s natural to want to blame something or somebody else. However, doing so can make it sound like all you want to do is complain, negating the importance of your message.
Instead, practice using “I” language. For example, instead of saying, “You always abandon me when I need you most, driving me to drink,” say, “I struggle with feelings of emptiness when I feel abandoned and in need of help. It triggers me to drink. How can I let you know when I need extra support?”
If you have a therapist, they can be a valuable resource in helping you open up to someone about something painful. Ask them to role-play your conversation with you before it takes place. That way, you’ll feel more confident in what to expect and how to broach the subject.
However, you can still use this technique without professional help. If you have a family member who already knows about your painful secret, they can play the role of the other party. There’s always the tried and true route of rehearing in front of the mirror.
5. Plan a Reward
Having challenging conversations takes considerable moxie. You deserve a reward after facing this conversation regardless of how the other party reacts to your information.
Plan a nice reward for yourself. This also helps to encourage you to follow through with your plan. It can be as simple as relaxing in a hot bubble bath with a novel or taking yourself out to a nice dinner.
The most important things are often the most difficult to say. Use these tips to make the process of opening up to someone a little easier.
Featured Image by Alexander Popov for Unsplash.