Are you fully open or vulnerable with your family or friends?
If you’re not, guess what? You’re pretty darn normal, and there are reasons for that.
But have you ever worked on figuring out why you’re not more open, and what holds you back?
Oftentimes, people blame the other person in the relationship. Perhaps you’ve thought or said something like…
- “I’d be more open, if they’d be.”
- “If they treated me better, I’d open up.”
- “Anytime I try to be open, they respond in a way I don’t like… they try to fix it, tell me to get over it, or I end up hurt.”
If you’re guilty of any of these, brace yourself because here comes the painful part…
Do you see how there’s no personal ownership or responsibility in any of those statements?
When we take a victim stance or blame someone else, we eliminate any chance of changing the situation, and we stay stuck in it.
We put it all on the other person, and because we “can’t change them” or “they just won’t change,” we build up walls and become guarded to protect ourselves.
And when we guard, other people will, too, and now we have two people cycling against each other, instead of pouring into each other.
This destroys relationships.
Here are 5 steps to overcome guardedness and live more authentically and freely.
1. Pray for God to change you, and the relationship.
I firmly believe that God changes us from the inside out, and heals relationships, especially when we’re diligent and ask for His help.
Pray for His peace and help, and surrender it to Him.
2. Start with you.
Diligence starts with learning to be more open, and discovering all of the pieces in your Root System that are causing you to guard and protect.
This is something we go super deep into
For right now though, it’s critical to understand personal responsibility is where to begin.
3. Gain perspective from the other person to understand more.
Ask questions to understand why they respond to you like they do, and ask questions to learn how you contribute to their guardedness.
Now here’s the thing. It’s super important to not be defensive or frustrated when they share.
Responses like these also come from your Root System, and until you’re able to overcome them, do your best to manage them.
Caution: If you’re talking to a very toxic person (i.e. controlling, abusive, very negative and judgmental), this step will be very difficult because the other person won’t be healthy enough to have a conversation like this.
If that’s the case, healthy boundaries are a must, as well as pouring into your relationship with God.
4. Be honest about how you feel.
Right now you may be thinking, “But wait a second, Chris, this takes being vulnerable! I can’t do this step!”
You’re right, it does mean being open and vulnerable, but note that it’s not step 1 or 2.
If steps 2 and 3 go well, you’ll feel more open to sharing because you’ll have a better perspective about why they respond like they do, and how you influence them.
Perspective provides understanding, and understanding is power.
5. Love them.
When we understand each other better, we respond with more patience, acceptance, and grace, and judgment and frustration get sidelined.
That’s when our more authentic self comes out, and we can be more free to love well.
Love is the key. Love will end two people’s cycle against each other because when the other person feels loved, over time, they’ll love you better.
And when you both feel loved, unified, and trust, you have little reason to guard and protect.
Depending on what’s going on today in your relationships, this step may feel like the last thing you want to do, but in relationships, someone must go first to change things.
Someone must lead toward healing, and remain committed to reversing the cycle of guardedness.
With God’s help, you can do this!
Question: Has guardedness held you back from having greater relationships? Comment below!