“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” Erma Bombeck
How much of yourself do you share with other people? If you don’t share much, what fear prevents you from doing that? Why do you feel you must hide a part of yourself?
Hiding or Not Hiding
I met a woman some time ago who seems to be a very nice person. We’ve been in several discussions; yet I know nothing really personal about her except for her political beliefs. Her emotional life remains hidden.
I have also recently met a man who is so open that I continue to be amazed by the depth of what he is willing to share. Instead of practically pulling teeth like I’m used to doing with many men, communication with him is so easy. He just says what he thinks and goes deeper without my asking him to.
Trust Is at the Core of Openness
There are so many things that affect our willingness to be open. At the core of it is trust, the two-fold kind. We have to feel we can trust the person with whom we are sharing our stories, and we also have to trust ourselves and believe we have something of value to share.
While it is true that we must use discretion in what we reveal to others, our ability to share deeply with others enriches our lives. There have been times in my life when I felt no one understood me and no one really wanted to know what was going on inside me. Those were barren, lonely times because I was surrounded by people who were not comfortable sharing much of themselves, so they really didn’t want to hear about my deeper thoughts and struggles.
However, most of my life I have had at least one best friend with whom I could share anything and who would share anything with me. Sometimes what one of us thought or did shocked the other, but we were always there for each other whether we approved of the other’s choices or not. Our trust in each other created an incredible intimacy and richness to our lives.
Openness Requires Discretion
Of course there are times when it isn’t wise to be open. Sharing too much about one’s personal life in the work place can be distracting and inappropriate. If a friend or partner has misused the information we have shared, we need to reconsider the wisdom of sharing so much with that person. Sometimes we just have to set boundaries in order to feel safe enough to be open.
Once, when my relationship with a man I loved was breaking up, I shared this with a friend, never dreaming she would pass the information on to two women I hardly knew. They then shared with a neighbor. Soon afterwards, I walked into the ladies restroom at my spiritual community and a woman I barely knew told me how sorry she was that this man and I were splitting.
I was shocked. I had told only my closest friends who I thought would be discrete. When I tracked this back to the source, I told that friend how upset I was, and she was very sorry. Her perception of how close I felt to her two woman friends was different than what I felt, and when we sorted it out, she agreed not to share my relationship information with anyone without asking my permission. With this understanding in place, I felt comfortable sharing with her in the future.
Being Who We Are Creates Connections With Others
While we have to be wise about our openness, we also miss so much in life when we are afraid to show others who we truly are. As I’ve said many times, when I decided to publish my memoir, I had to overcome the fear of being open. Being that open felt vulnerable, but I couldn’t tell my story in a way that would benefit those who read it unless I was transparent. It took quite a while to find the courage to do that.
I’m glad I made that decision because my being open has allowed others to open up to me, to share their deepest thoughts and tragedies, to share things with me that they would never have shared with me had we not had the book to connect us. When we understand that others have had similar experiences, it often helps us to stop judging ourselves and just know that our “failures” are only human.
I like what Tony Schwartz says: “Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”
Openness Enriches Us Spiritually
When we truly accept who we are and love ourselves, we can also accept that we make mistakes. To be open to living life at its fullness, we have to interact with others, explore our thoughts and lives together. We have to be open to the idea that it is often our mistakes that teach us the lessons we really need to learn in order to grow and become who we truly are.
When we show our dreams to someone else, they may know exactly what we need to make those dreams come true. Openness allows us to connect, explore, and discover “the buried treasure” within each of us. When we do that and open our hearts to each other, life can be oh, so sweet.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5