Learning How To Open Up To People

Updated March 1, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It can be difficult to be vulnerable, and stigma surrounding mental health challenges can make people more likely to minimize, deny, or ignore their feelings. Despite the fact that 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point, there is still a fraught cultural narrative that mental health challenges are a sign of “weakness.” Talking genuinely and openly with the people you care about can build trust, strength, resilience, and a sense of community. A licensed mental health professional can help you work to embrace your feelings and invite people into your life.

open to new people

It’s Not Always Easy To Talk About Feelings

How To Have Deep Conversations 

When you face social rejection and ostracization, the same regions of the brain responsible for physical pain are activated. Vulnerability leaves us exposed to potential rejection, judgement, humiliation, and the pain that can come with it.  

However, while cultures can sometimes stigmatize talking about our feelings or associate it with “weakness,” vulnerability provides a space for authenticity, innovation, and creativity. While small talk can be a healthy part of social life,  it’s also important to have outlets for deeper emotional support. 

If you’re finding it challenging to open up with friends and/or family, you may want to use some of the following tips to get a conversation started: 

  • Find The Right Person

Not all relationships feel deeply trusting or safe for vulnerability, and some studies estimate that it takes 340 hours of face-to-face interaction for most people to develop close friendships. You may want seek out open discussions with friends who demonstrate consistency of character, compassion, respect, courage, honesty, fairness, and generosity.

However, you do not have to limit open conversations to best friends. One study determined that people are very social beings and will often tell something meaningful about themselves after someone else does, leading to deeper and more enriching conversations—even with strangers. 

  • Focus On How You Feel

When you’re having an open conversation with someone (such as a friend, colleague, romantic partner, or family), it’s a good idea to emphasize “I” language. “I” statements can be used to discuss your experiences and help you navigate conflict, plus they help develop self-awareness. Bellevue college has a free worksheet that may help you differentiate between “you” language and “I” language. 

open yourself up

  • Find The Best Communication Format

If you’re finding difficult to initiate a face-to-face discussion, you might want to consider talking on the phone, video conferencing, or writing a letter. Note that texting may lead to misunderstandings because body language and tone of voice are not communicated, so it may not be the best choice for serious conversations.  

  • Write About It

Some people find it helpful to write about how they’re feeling before having a difficult conversation. It may help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to clearly communicate what you want to tell. According to Kaiser Permanente, journaling can improve communication skills and improve self-confidence. 

If you’re not sure exactly how you feel or how to write about it, you might want to try stream of consciousness journaling. During this practice, you write down your thoughts as they cross your mind, which may provide more clarity

  • Set Aside Time

Setting aside time without distractions can make serious conversations easier. Most people prefer to have intimate conversations one-on-one, without other people present or immediately nearby. 

  • Be Honest 

Being open and honest about how you feel can build stronger social connections and increase self-reported happiness. While many people may be tempted to sugar-coat difficult conversations, it can be misleading and counterproductive. 

  • Ask For What You Need

When you reveal something personal, some people may not know how you want them to respond. Consider letting them know what type of help you’re looking for from them but be prepared that they may not be able to provide you with all the support you need. 

Some ways they may be able to help include regularly checking in with you, helping you find resources, offering advice, or running some errands. 

  • Understand That Opening Up Can Be Uncomfortable At First 

Sometimes, difficult conversations may feel uncomfortable. If you’re disclosing something you haven’t talked before, they may have questions about it or they may need some space to process what you told them. 

  • Return The Favor

In addition to asking for support, you can provide support. Dr Anna Akbari, a sociologist, recommends scheduling consistent time to spend with close friends and being available when they need help from you. 

learn how to open up
It’s Not Always Easy To Talk About Feelings

Talk To A Therapist

If you’re finding it difficult to open up about mental health challenges with friends and family, or if they cannot offer you the support you need, you might want to consider reaching out to a licensed professional. 

One type of talk therapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be effective for both people aiming to improve their overall well-being and those with diagnosed psychiatric disorders. During CBT sessions, a therapist can help you explore the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By reframing negative thoughts, they can help relieve emotional distress and guide you towards healthier communication skills.  

A 2017 study demonstrated that online CBT can effectively address the symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, and it’s often more affordable than traditional in-person therapy. Additionally, online CBT, which is offered on sites like BetterHelp, can be done from the comfort of your own home. If opening up to others is challenging for you, then this may be a good option. 

BetterHelp Counselor Reviews

"Dr. Boring-Bray has been instrumental in my recovery from avoidance and social anxiety. She is both supportive and informative. She has helped me navigate my emotions to have a better understanding and control of them. Anything is possible with a strong therapist and hard work."

a counselor can help you open up

"As someone who struggles with talking to people and emotions, I was extremely hesitant to start counseling let alone do live sessions. I was able to open up immediately on my first session with Jessica. She was patient and calm with me which gave me the sense of trust I was looking for. She has a gentleness in her voice and empathy in her eyes that could put anyone at ease. She asks questions in a way that gives her the info she needs but allows you to open up as well. I'm so thankful I was matched with her and would highly recommend her! Thank you Jessica for being amazing."


It can be hard to talk about your emotions. Writing about your feelings, talking with close allies, emphasizing honesty, and asking for what you need can help. If you’re finding it very difficult to open up to the people in your life, you may want to consider trying therapy. Online cognitive behavioral therapy

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