People also downplay their feelings for the people in their lives, with regards to speaking about such. Not wanting to risk rejection, feeling embarrassed, or place oneself "too out in the open." So instead, we retreat to the shelter of façade. Pretend. Of hiding behind walls of guardedness.
Why is this a major loss? For many reasons. Sure, its "safer." But ultimately, its a way of half loving. And even, of half living.
First off, lets briefly explore in a bit more depth why people do not say what is truly in their hearts to one another.
--The main reason: fear. Fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of vulnerability and opening oneself up, which is often terrifying.
--Our culture strongly reinforcing the message that aloof is better, "stronger," and cooler, while being open and honest is "weak," and uncool.
--Risk. Opening up and spilling ones heart does entail some risk. Risk of rejection, risk of the person to whom you are expressing such not responding in kind, risk of change in perception between the two people, etc. (Though the actual risks are minor, when compared with all that you have to gain here).
Our culture is all about being independent. One man islands, if you will. The idea of "not needing anyone else," and being able to handle it all on ones own. Being "cool" and aloof, which we equate with being "strong" and able bodied.
Since when is wanting closeness with others synonymous with weakness? That is a sad and strange concept to me, that this has been twisted into such. In fact, the desire for love, closeness and connection with others is a basic human want and even a need. Yes, a need. Its a human thing. Therefore, this has nothing to do with strength or weakness. I'm not sure how it got turned into being such, but that's unfortunate and inaccurate.
What these misperceptions do, much to many peoples detriment, ultimately is separate people. Disconnect them from one another. Prevent further closeness from flourishing. Holding back also leaves much room for regret, for wishing one had told a person what they felt when they had the chance. Playing ones emotional cards close to the chest also leaves others close to them wondering and unsure. It adds uncertainty and sometimes even unease to the relationship, which can potentially add to disconnection between two people. All in all, it just halts the moving closer to one another in any relationship- platonic or romantic.
Imagine how you yourself feel if/when someone you care about, have feelings for, love, like immensely, respect, any or all of the above, says something awesome, complimentary, and real to you. It could be anything positive but to offer a few potential examples:
-"you're special to me."
-"I love your company."
-"you add immensely to my life in this way __________."
-"you're incredible/awesome because _____."
-"you inspire me in this way ______."
-"you've taught me something important, which is ______."
-"I like you a lot."
-"I love you."
Of course, the possibilities are endless. Essentially, its not about just delivering a line but about saying how you really feel for the person, whatever is inside of your heart, whatever it might be. Finding the courage though, to actually say it. Why is this so important?
Expression of affection builds bridges. It warms hearts. It can even change lives. These can be some of the most emotionally moving, heart rending, most marvelous parts of being human. Some of the most memorable moments of our lives can be hearing something true, meaningful and awesome that someone has decided to say to us.
So why not tell those in your life what you feel for them? What they mean to you. How they have added to your life. Something you love or admire about them. What you have learned from them. How their being a part of your life may have changed it. That you like someone deeply, or maybe even love them. Dare to express your affections. These are some of the most integral building blocks of love and close relationships.
Being honest and vulnerable is about as brave, beautiful, awe inspiring and stellar as it gets. Its the opposite of weak. Its easier to hide behind walls. Its harder to speak up. To swallow the lump in your throat and take the risk. Therefore, being vulnerable, open and honest is the far more difficult, braver and ultimate stronger action. Vulnerability is beautiful. Your words can stir hearts, change lives, become some of a persons most memorable moments. Ones they will cherish and recall as some of their own life's most awesome treasures.
Dare to be honest. Say what you feel. To be real, and yes, vulnerable. You'll see, both in watching the other person alight at your genuine words, as well as in feeling your own heart swell in the moments when others dare to do the same with you. Want to make your life far richer and emotionally fulfilling? Speak up.
In the words of John Mayer, "you better know that in the end, its better to say too much, then to never say what you need to say. Say what you need to say."
For another, similar article on this topic called "The Power of Vulnerability," check out this blog post.