Q&A (10): When is the right time to open up?

Dear Sarah,

Can you advise how, when living with an incurable condition with symptoms that are not always visible, to be open and honest without making people feel uncomfortable or isolating myself? it's a very lonely place to be.

All the best, Annalise*


Dear Annalise*,

Thank you for your honest and vulnerable question. We all need people in our lives who get us and know what we are going through whether we are well or whether we are suffering in some way from a physical, emotional or mental condition.

It can be tempting to compare our insides to other people's outsides but the truth is none of us are perfect inside. The challenge is to allow others to see who we are on the inside and to spend time getting to know and accepting them on the inside too.

So, how can you do that? If you are worried that people might feel uncomfortable because of your condition - you might not want to mention it on your first meeting. Get to know them gradually and start by revealing small things about yourself and discover things about them. If and when you decide they are a kind and safe person, then maybe you'll feel ready to tell them more about yourself and your condition.

People often feel uncomfortable about conditions they don't know about so it might help to explain a little bit about it and how it impacts you. Maybe don't bombard them with too many details but allow them to ask questions if they want. Also, keep up the interest in them. If you can keep discovering more about them and who they are and what they are going through - it will help to keep the relationship two-way.

You might also want to find others who are living with the same condition as you. Is there a support group on-line or locally you could join? People going through something similar will be able to relate to what you are going through and will be able to discuss the details of your day-to-day struggles and offer support. And you'll be able to do the same for them. 

Whatever you do, please don't isolate yourself. There are many kind, trustworthy people in the world and there will definitely be people who would benefit from your friendship and from having you in their lives.

Keep on being brave, being bold and being yourself.

Love Sarah

*Name has been changed

And don't forget, if you have a question about how to live, love or lead more authentically then use the contact form here and we will try to include it in a future Q&A. If we use your question we will send you a free copy of my book "Inside Out – how to have authentic relationships with everyone in your life"