Over the past month and a half since I started Braver Than Before, I have had countless people commend me for the openness and vulnerability that I have displayed through this platform. My goal with this blog has always been to write about my life and my struggles with as much transparency as possible, because I believe that openness and vulnerability are fundamental to real, genuine healing.
I’ve just been through a very emotionally draining weekend, as we just buried my Gram yesterday (read about her here). It’s times like this, when the painful realities of life hit me hard and suck the energy out of me, that I don’t feel like being vulnerable and real. I don’t feel like blogging. I don’t feel like sharing myself with others.
But at the end of the day, I know that writing through my mental health journey has been one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. Choosing to put myself out there and be open and honest with my struggles has allowed me grow in so many ways. It has often shown me that I am stronger than I realize.
I cannot advocate enough for talking openly about the challenges you are facing in your life. Doing so not only exposes the hidden lies that try to manipulate you into thinking you are “not good enough”, but it also discredits the fear that people would judge you if they really knew you. My experience is that people almost never judge you for being vulnerable about your struggles. Instead, they tend to stand up and applaud to encourage you along on your journey.
Still, many people struggle with vulnerability. It is hard and scary to let others into the most personal areas of your life. But because opening up about my struggles has been such a beneficial part of my recovery, I am passionate about encouraging others to do the same. If the idea of vulnerability terrifies you and you simply don’t know where to start, here are five simple actions that you can take to help you begin the process of opening up.
1. Realize that you’re not alone.
One of the main reasons that people keep their struggles to themselves is that they feel they are alone in the battle. This is a fallacy. No matter what you are going through, you are not alone. Someone, somewhere has struggled through this same challenge. Even if the details of your circumstances are completely unique, there are others who can identify with the emotions you are facing as a result. Realizing and trusting that you are not alone is a huge step towards opening up about your struggles, and ultimately towards authentic healing.
2. Write about it.
If you just don’t know where to start when it comes to opening up about your personal journey, write about it. It can be difficult to find the words in the moment to tell someone about what you are going through. If you have a hard time communicating your feelings and experiences, consider writing about your struggles first. Don’t worry about form, just be honest with yourself and let the words flow. Writing about it will help you process your circumstances and find the words to describe your experience. Once you’ve finished, consider sharing this piece of writing with another person.
3. Find someone you trust.
Your first step to opening up about your struggles does not have to be posting a public blog online for the world to read! This was not my first step either! Braver Than Before has been over a decade in the making for me, and it all started with finding ONE person that I could trust and open up to. For me, that one person was Ryan. He was just a friend at the time, but somehow I found the courage to open up to him about the daily struggles I was facing (you can read about this in A Story and an Invitation). It changed my life and played a significant role in getting me to where I am today!
4. Let go of your pride.
Pride holds us back from opening up about our struggles, because it causes us to fear the judgements of others. We want to be seen as strong, confident, and well-adjusted individuals, and we fear that if people knew who we really were underneath, they wouldn’t respect or love us. But letting go of this pride, and taking on a willingness to be seen as you really are, isn’t actually an act of weakness at all. It is an act of unqualified strength. Doing so will give you the ability to open up in ways you never dreamed of before, and it will allow you to take massive steps forward in your healing process.
5. Share your story with someone new.
After you begin to open up to people you trust, and you start to realize that these people love you despite your struggles and shortcomings, it becomes easier and easier to share your story with others. Opening up to someone new is always a little bit scary, and can feel like a leap of faith. But the more you share your story with others, the more you will realize that you are met with unconditional love and respect. And the more love and respect you feel from others, the more you will start to love and respect yourself.
If there was only one thing I could urge you to do in your healing process, it would be to embrace vulnerability. Doing so has been an invaluable part of my journey. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it!
Does the idea of openness and vulnerability scare you? Do you have a hard time letting others into your personal struggles? If so, why do you think this is? Send me a personal message or leave me a comment below!