Self-Disclosure

July 06, 2018

Learning to gently reveal who we are is how we open ourselves up to love and intimacy in our relationships.

Many of us have hidden under a protective shell, a casing that prevents others from seeing or hurting us. We do not want to be that vulnerable. We do not want to expose our thoughts, feelings, fears, weaknesses, and sometimes our strengths, to others.

We do not want others to see who we really are.

We may be afraid they might judge us, go away, or not like us. We may be uncertain that who we are is okay or exactly how we should reveal ourselves to others.

Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have lived with people who abused, mistreated, manipulated, or did not appreciate us.

Little by little, we learn to take the risk of revealing ourselves. We disclose the real person within to others. We pick safe people, and we begin to disclose bits and pieces about ourselves.

Sometimes, out of fear, we may withhold, thinking that will help the relationship or will help others like us more. That is an illusion. Withholding who we are does not help us, the other person, or the relationship. Withholding is a behavior that backfires. For true intimacy and closeness to exist, for us to love ourselves and be content in a relationship, we need to disclose who we are.

That does not mean we tell all to everyone at once. That can be a self-defeating behavior too. We can learn to trust ourselves, about who to tell, when to tell, where to tell, and how much to tell.

To trust that people will love and like us if we are exactly who we are is frightening. But it is the only way we can achieve what we want in relationships. To let go of our need to control others—their opinions, their feelings about us, or the course of the relationship—is the key.

Gently, like a flower, we can learn to open up. Like a flower, we will do that when the sun shines and there is warmth.

Today, I will begin to take the risk of disclosing who I am to someone with whom I feel safe. I will let go of some of my protective devices and risk being vulnerable—even though I may have been taught differently, even though I may have taught myself differently. I will disclose who I am in a way that reflects self-responsibility, self-love, directness, and honesty. God, help me let go of my fears about disclosing who I am to people. Help me accept who I am, and help me let go of my need to be who people want me to be.

From the book: The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series

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