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How do I open up to someone? What do I say?


As discussed in previous items, it's important to find someone who is a good listener. More and more is being done to raise awareness of the fact there are people who care.

The Samaritans are running a campaign 'Small Talk Saves Lives'  Carnegie UK with the support of many organisations are looking at what can be done to encourage kinder communities. A campaign which started in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to help stop people completing suicide by recognising the signs when someone may be at risk has shared what they learned for others to adopt and adapt.

We have helplines such as Breathing Space, where maybe if you don't know how to start a conversation with someone you know, you could open up to someone you don't know.

So how do we open up?


Okay depending on our nature this may be easy or very hard. Some people have no problem sharing what they are thinking or feeling, others don't.

This can be because we don't want to seem a bother, or we fear what we share is shared with others, or we will be judged, or we may be rejected, or somehow cause others distress and many other reasons.

We will continue to offer pieces on opening up. We know we are all different, so it may take time to find something which works for you. Here are some useful tips to think about to get us started, use what is useful discard what is not, find something which makes sense for you:

  • Decide what it is you want to say and if possible pick a time and place where you can be heard e.g. deciding to phone a friend who is maybe rushing out to take the kids to school may not be a good idea, arranging a time where you can both chat undisturbed and privately may work better.
  • Let the person know what your intentions are. Sometimes people worry they need to fix things and so don't know how to listen as they are thinking about solutions. If you start by saying,'' I don't need you to fix anything or jump in with a solution, I just need someone to listen then help me decide what next''. You are setting the scene and letting the person know you want to talk and what you ask of them is to listen.
  • Practice some relaxation, it's easier to talk about how we feel if we are relaxed, something as simple as a 3min relaxer or some mindful breathing can make all the difference, we have a 3min relaxer on the website and a download on Mindfulness.
  • People aren't mind readers, so you need to take responsibility for being understood. Don't worry if you feel what you are saying is maybe all over the place. Sometimes when we do open up for the first time we have so much to say it comes in a rush. Just be patient with the person who is listening and say ''I know this may not seem to make sense, bear with me'' Sometimes we need that space of just letting it all pour out so we ourselves can start to make sense of what we are thinking and feeling. This is why its important people know we want them to listen not solve as sometimes we just need to be heard, even when what we are saying doesn't always make sense.
  • Be kind if the person listening asks a question, this means they are listening and are trying to understand. Effective communication happens when both parties respect each other, trust each other and feel safe to be open and honest about how they feel.
  • Recognise this is the beginning of opening up. It may be it will take time to work through what is causing you distress. Sometimes things happen which take time to resolve, or, it may be time to come to terms with. But before any journey to a better place can begin, we need to find a starting point, and that can be as simple as letting someone know,'' I am not fine, this is why''. Recognising there is an issue, makes it easier to explore what next and this is easier when shared with someone else.

We will continue to offer tips on opening up in our next item, thank you for reading.

Remember, there are people who care and want to listen so please give them a chance, if you are not fine remember you don't need to go through this alone, even if you have tried to open up in the past and had a bad experience, please don't let that put you off, read the piece on qualities of a good listener and find someone you recognise has those qualities, we are out there.

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Useful/Emergency Contacts

  • Silverline 0800 4 70 80 90
  • Childeline 0800 1111
  • ParentLine 08000 28 22 33
  • Samaritans 116 123
  • Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87
  • NHS 111
  • Gamblers anonymous 0370 050 8881
  • Narcotics anonymous 0300 999 1212
  • Alcoholics anonymous 0800 9177 6506
  • CALM 0800 58 58 58
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