Spiraling into loneliness and isolation.
- Hiding human vulnerabilities can exacerbate them.
- During a global mental health crisis, the struggle to stay and do well is pervasive.
- Communication behaviors based on modern brain science can help prevent burnout and mental health spirals.
Source: Shutterstock/Nicoleta Ionescu
It feels like day 1 million of the pandemic. The mental health effects are palpable. Depression and anxiety are skyrocketing, with social anxiety and loneliness wreaking havoc. The prolonged trauma, loss, and disruption at every corner call for new behavior strategies that help us stay and do well.
Across generations and cultures, perceptions of oversharing or revealing too much information (“TMI”) are hard to dismantle. Societies have lagged in understanding the human condition and have long shunned anyone who doesn’t stick with the never-let-anyone-see-you-sweat protocol. But now we have modern brain science, and emerging research that shows how beneficial candid connection is to our well-being.
Candid connection is the ability to genuinely reveal oneself through communication behaviors that help us to bond in meaningful ways, moving beyond what’s superficial. This relies on being willing to get more comfortable with the uncomfortable. By valuing real connection, we strive to forge relationships where we can be our fullest selves, acknowledging our struggles just as freely as our successes.
Certain mindsets and behaviors can help us move towards candid connection. We must uncouple from outdated, stigmatized thinking that we’re oversharing or providing “TMI,” and instead place a high value on being seen, heard, and cared for in our truest form. This can feel like a risk, but is worth doing, to avoid falling prey to the traps of under sharing.
4 Traps of Undersharing
- Blocking loved ones from understanding who we really are and what we really need. When we’re in a compromised state, we may become cynical about their capacity to help, or not want to be a burden, when in truth they’d want to know how they could help.
- Spiraling into loneliness, isolation, and the sense we are the only ones experiencing dark emotions. In moments of distress, we worry that we are flawed and incapable of growth and recovery. The more we hide, the more we want to. Rather than reaching out, we stay isolated to avoid being seen when we’re not in a great place, doing nothing to help us chip away and make progress.
- Struggling to identify solutions for what we’re grappling with. Anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress responses can make us oblivious to seeing our strengths, resources, and solutions at hand. This is what makes candid connection necessary, so we can find our way through it with people who get it and care.
- Internalizing shame and letting our toxic inner critical have its way with us. Under sharing can have a cumulative effect, leaving us susceptible to negative internal dialogue that makes us feel embarrassed, weak, unworthy, unlovable, and unfit. New behaviors can help us resist such instincts and build a healthier, more self-compassionate narrative that allows more expansive ways of seeing ourselves in context.
Candid connection can help us overcome the trappings of under sharing during today’s global mental health crisis.
Source: Shutterstock/Zdenek Sasek
4 Strategies for Better Communication and Connection
- Don’t shy away from revealing your varied identities and self-advocating for your needs. Speak your truths and set boundaries. Example: “It would mean a lot if you understood this about me,” or “Right now my bandwidth is too stretched, I can’t commit.”
- See yourself as part of the human condition, not solely as having a mental health condition. When you’re wrestling with difficult emotions and circumstances, avoid self-blaming language and instead be frank about what you are experiencing. Example: “Things are really hard for me right now; still, l I know I’m not alone, flawed, or demonstrating a moral failing. I’m overwhelmed, but this doesn’t mean I’m not resilient or that I can’t overcome with the right blend of support and time.”
- Seek trusting relationships to share problems and brainstorm possibilities. Think therapy or fellow candid communicators that you can trust. This can involve delegation when your plate is too full or asking for ideas on how to approach challenges. Example: “I’m stuck, can you think about this with me?” “What works for you when you’ve been in this predicament?” “Can you offer me some constructive feedback on what might help me given my state of distress?” or “What’s the name of your therapist?”
- Resist primitive instincts to self-sabotage. Instead, work toward greater self-compassion and resolve to stop shoulding and musting yourself. Example: “I know I’m not the only one struggling right now. I feel like I’m letting everyone down, but it’s OK to take a step back and regroup right now.”
Stoicism and hiding our true selves can block us from forming deeper bonds and generating healing experiences. Candid connection helps us resist the trappings of under sharing, where we hide our true identities and emotions in fears we will be judged, rejected, shamed, or misunderstood. Candid connection helps us become franker about who we are and what we’re going through, giving us added protection that can support well-being and generate momentum towards a sense of greater belonging and human solidarity.
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Lee, K. (2018). Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn what it takes to be more agile, mindful, and connected in today’s world. Deerfield Beach, FL: HCI Communications.