“Sharing is caring.” We were taught to share when we were younger, whether it was our toys, food, friends, secrets, feelings, opinions, frustrations, etc. When we were young, we didn’t hold back who we were or what we were thinking; we said what we thought and felt and we shared ourselves and our opinions with everyone around us. Yet as we get older, we tend to share ourselves, our opinions, our ideas, our thoughts, and our feelings less and less, especially in our intimate relationships or with people in our lives. We may become concerned about what others will think of us, how they will react to what we say, think, feel, or do, if they will judge us, or we may share less of our time, emotional availability, and/or support with others. Many of us may become more concerned about what others will think, that we end up not being who we are or true to ourselves, which can often lead to negative feelings or emotions.
When we meet someone new or are in the early stages of a romantic relationship we can have moments when we do not share our true selves. Often times we want so badly for the other person to like us or to think positively about us that we will say what we think they want to hear rather than what we truly feel or believe. This automatically sets us up for failure down the road and possibly the end of the relationship. Say the person you are talking to expressed that they enjoy golfing or antiquing. If you respond that you feel the same in an attempt to make them happy or have them like you more, even though you detest golfing or antiquing, you either have to keep that secret for the rest of the relationship and pretend to enjoy the activity when it happens or if the truth is found out it could be viewed as deception and cause harm to the trust in the relationship. If this attempt to connect and please the other person happens frequently enough in the beginning of the relationship and is later discovered, it could be detrimental enough to cause the relationship to end. In the same vein, if you start a relationship under a significant number of pretenses and aspects that are not true to you, how can you really know that the other person is even really interested in you and not just the person you are pretending to be? It is far easier to share our true selves with others and find people who truly like us for who we are and what we think rather than have to keep up an act and never have true meaningful relationships or connections.
We may also have a habit of not sharing ourselves when we are feeling angry, hurt, or upset with ourselves or someone else. We may keep our feelings or our thoughts to ourselves and withdraw or avoid others, choosing instead to wallow in our negative mood or “punish” ourselves for how we feel or for something negative that may have happened. Instead of sharing how we feel or what we are thinking when we perceive something negative by another person, we may withhold physical and/or verbal affection, social invitations or interactions, physical intimacy, praise or gratitude, or other acts or emotion, as a way to punish the person we view at fault. it is not fair to both ourselves and others to act in this way and withhold what we are thinking and feeling. It may be difficult to express yourself when you are feeling angry, hurt, or upset, but it will prove time and again to be much more healthy and positive for your mental health and the relationship.
In any of these instances, we are doing a great disservice to ourselves and those in our lives when we do not share who we really are and what our true feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and ideas are. If what we are seeking in life is to form deep and meaningful connections with others and in our relationships, we need to be open and honest about who we are. As Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” If you are having difficulty sharing yourselves with those in your life, please contact Symmetry Counseling today to schedule an appointment with a therapist who can help you.