Talking about our inner feelings is easier for some than for others. After all, everybody in life goes through painful experiences, and we can’t be blamed for wanting to bury those things away and forget about them. Sometimes new experiences bring up past traumas or grievances, causing us to fall into a similar pattern of behaviour that we repeat throughout our lives. If we break this cycle, we can be freer to express ourselves with those close to us and be calmer in facing the crazy world we live in. For the sake of yourself and for those you love, learning to communicate effectively is absolutely key. In this blog you’ll find a guide on how to start opening up to better communication; just know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take your first steps today.
Why Opening Up Is Important In 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health struggles have increased around the world due to isolation. People have been quarantined for almost nine months – that is three quarters of the whole year – and the pandemic isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Although this has been a terribly hard adjustment period for all, we need to figure out how to live in a more reduced world in the coming months. Despite being somewhat separated, we can all use technology to help us maintain our social relationships, keep in contact with loved ones, and continue sharing our feelings with those we trust. There has never been a more important time to hold people close than now.
Although we are able to talk more easily through technology than we ever have before in the history of humanity, are we more connected? Psychologists seem to be concluding that although we can communicate more easily, we are more disparate and separated than ever before. This might be due to a higher awareness of global events, polarising politics, or simply that we have become so accustomed to the constant noise that we can’t recognise real communication anymore.
So how can we effectively communicate in a world of noise? Here are just a few tips provided by psychologists on how to begin the process of opening up and communicating better.
- Notice how others communicate.
One of the best ways to become a better communicator is to notice how others communicate. Often in our current culture, we are preoccupied all the time; perhaps we are scrolling through our phones, preoccupied by the news, or just lost in our own inner monologue. Whether you are at work or at home, being constantly preoccupied by your own thoughts leads you to stop noticing the cues that others are giving you in their own mode of communication.
For example, if you are at work scrolling on your phone and refusing eye contact with those who greet you in the office, you are missing out on the “vibe” they are giving out to you. The “vibe” is just the aura that others give out when they communicate with you; when you notice how others are communicating with you, you will be able to open up and match their energy more easily, thereby creating a more meaningful relationship with them. Noticing how others communicate also helps you to take your awareness away from your own thoughts and out to the wider world, alleviating stress and making you a more open, caring individual.
- Work on your body language.
Whether you like it or not, sometimes your body language is a better communicator than your voice. Even if you are in shutdown mode, not wanting to actually speak about your feelings or acknowledge any issues that are arising, your body will let others know that something is wrong. Many people are what is described as “high functioning” – meaning they are better at appearing totally fine and functional, even if they are experiencing a crisis. Others let things show more easily. Whichever version of existence you fall into, your body language is likely to be a dead giveaway to people that you are repressing something.
So why is it important to work on your body language? You might find that you struggle to open up verbally – so one way to work on undoing those knots you have tied yourself up into is to start with your physical demeanor and work towards the verbal side of things slowly. If your body language is curved in, eyes to the ground, tense shoulders, and hands in your pockets, you are likely to be shutting down those who try to reach out to you.
One way to open up your body language, other than simply becoming more conscious of your current body language and trying to change it, is through practices such as yoga. Yoga is a practice that combines mind and body to open up your posture, as well as bringing inner peace and confidence in yourself.
- Try; fail; try again
Nobody ever woke up one morning and suddenly became a wise, calm communicator. These things take time and practise. If you feel you are struggling to communicate effectively with those around you – particularly your partner or spouse – this will not change overnight. The best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship is to try. Trying your best to communicate with the person you love might experience some growing pains at first, but with persistence, you will get better at it, just like anything in life.
- Focus on the success of your wellbeing, not your material success
Many people find they are poor communicators because they have never realised just how closed off they are. If you seem to have everything – a big house, a nice car, a good job, a spouse, children – then you might start feeling like there’s no more work left to be done. This is dangerous territory to fall into. Just because you have material success, it does not mean that you are your best self. This might sound cheesy, but once you feel you are done discovering who you are, you will shut down and communicate badly. The success of your well-being, however, is an entirely different journey to the success of your material life.
If you can think of the Top 10 Biggest Spenders you know, and then try to picture the top 10 happiest people you know, it is unlikely that this list will match up. Why? Because many people go their whole lives focusing on material success without looking inward even for a second.
Why is self-examination important? You might find, once you look closely at yourself, your relationships, and your behavioural patterns, that you have a lot of work to do. If you have a pattern of pushing people away who get too close to you, this should be addressed; your communication style might be ruining your chances of lasting happiness. Self-examination is difficult and sometimes painful, but once you get through the tunnel, life on the other side is more peaceful, open and full of happiness.
At the end of the day, effective communication is a process. If you attempt to better your communication skills like a sport or work project, you are missing the point entirely. Opening yourself up to more open communication will help you breathe more easily, and aid you in solidifying your relationships at work, with your friends, and in your romantic life. Allow yourself to discover the reasons why you have fallen into a pattern of bad communication, acknowledge, and work towards a change. You won’t regret it.