The idea that people have of wealth is often associated with money, with material things. Our society, based on a capitalist economy, teaches us to associate acquisition and possession with success. And without this materialistic success, many people think they have no access to happiness. However, there is a wealth that does not cost a penny and that is much more rewarding in the short, medium and long term. It is social relationships.
Knowing how to open up to others is not given to everyone. Shyness easily takes over and leaves us with our cell phone and its seductive applications as our best friend. However, closing ourselves off to new encounters, and even to the people who already surround us, limits our personal development and deprives us of a great wealth (even makes us unhappy).
So the question is: how do we open ourselves to others?
To begin with, we must understand that opening up to others has two aspects. The first is to listen, to give (attention, time, love…). The second, perhaps more complex to conceive, is to accept to receive. Accepting to confide in others, to listen to their advice and to trust them. These two aspects are inseparable and do not go together.
But what can we do in concrete terms to open up to others? Here are a few tips:
- Stop thinking and act: before approaching a person, before starting a conversation, we are often full of hesitation. We think about the best possible approach, we wonder if it’s really a good idea to speak, what the other person will think of us, if we’re not going to look like a fool… The problem is that while we’re thinking, the opportunity to act fades away. So, in order not to let overthinking block us in communication, we have to cut the grass under the foot of our thoughts and speak as soon as an idea comes to us. Because there is no right or wrong way to open up to others. What matters is to get started.
It is always difficult to trust others, especially when you have experienced disappointment or betrayal in the past. However, one should not close in on oneself and decide not to trust anyone. By deciding not to give new people a chance, you run the risk of missing out on great relationships. Remember that each new encounter involves a different person, and therefore a different story.
- Dare to be vulnerable: it is common not to dare to share your difficulties with those around you. Fear of disturbing, modesty, shame (I have no reason to complain). However, very often the people around you will be happy to help you. This will bring you closer together and your friend will also feel more comfortable confiding in you about his or her own problems. It will create an emotional bridge between you and the person you are presenting yourself to. An authentic relationship.
And then remember that if a person doesn’t accept you as you are, it’s probably not a big loss to let them go.
- Actively listen: since a relationship goes both ways, it is important to listen to the people around you. But listening is not just responding instantly or bouncing off a story of our own. Listening is also about asking questions, showing interest and making it clear that you are not indifferent to what is being said. The important thing is not so much what you answer or advise, but the interest you have in the person in front of you. Indeed, afterwards, we remember more how the person made us feel, than what he/she told us precisely.
- Don’t judge: as it may be hard for you, it is probably hard for others to confide in you. Remember not to judge someone who may not have the same views or opinions as you. Listen sympathetically and just be there for them. This will be rewarding for you as well as comforting for the other person.
- Check in regularly: a relationship needs to be nurtured. Like a beautiful plant, it needs regular care. So, whether it’s your friends or your family, force yourself to take and give news regularly. A message or a call doesn’t cost much but it can make a big difference.
- Seek professional help or advice from someone who has experience (a relative, a teacher, etc.): if opening up to others is really too difficult for you, you can go see a professional whose job it is to help you talk and listen to you. You can also learn to open up more easily and understand why it is so difficult for you.
Knowing how to open up to others is something essential for our balance. It can be natural or not so natural. But if it is not, don’t panic, it can be learned! And above all, being introverted does not make you less interesting or less “likeable”. Every aspect of your personality contributes to who you are and defines you in your uniqueness. Just remember that being open to others is a true source of love, given and received.