“Alina has been struggling with night terrors for a while. She tried to explain to her sister that they were not just bad dreams, but she did not understand. Since then, Alina has been keeping her night terrors a secret to avoid being misunderstood, and it’s been weighing her down. She wished she had someone to talk to, who would understand.”
Disclosure, also known as self-disclosure, is an essential component of human relationships. It refers to the process of sharing information about yourself with other people, either intentionally or unintentionally. People share a variety of information when conversing with others. This information can be superficial, such as your favourite food, or very personal, such as your deepest fear. Your body language, posture, clothing, and attitude also tell other people about you.
Disclosure allows you to build trust, rapport, and a strong relationship with other people. When you keep things a secret, it affects the quality of relationships you can build with other people, and you suffer alone through problems that could be shared.
Disclosure can help you in various ways. Here are some examples:
Developing a support system
There are few things as nice as having somebody who understands exactly what you are going through, who won’t judge you for it. In order to earn this kind of acceptance, you have to open up to someone about your challenges. When you disclose important information with other people, they are able to understand what you are going through and will be more likely to help when they can. For instance, if you disclose that you struggle with moderating your alcohol use to a friend, she might also reveal that she also has the same problem. She might share the resources she uses to stay sober and might say you can call her whenever you are struggling. She, thereby, becomes a key source of support for you.
Relieving the burden of guilt and shame
You are often more critical of your struggles than other people tend to be. Keeping certain aspects of yourself secret can be stressful, tiring, and it may induce feelings of shame and guilt when others open up to you. Disclosing thoughts and events that have been burdening you can be a cathartic experience. You feel free, loose, and relieved. You will also find that the things you struggle to forgive yourself for may become trivial when you share them with someone else.
Building self-worth and confidence
When you feel like you have something to hide from others, it affects how you behave. You may isolate yourself to avoid anyone getting too close or refuse to speak about yourself when other people are sharing stories. Over time, these actions can negatively impact how you feel and think about yourself. However, research has shown that people who self-disclose tend to be more confident and happier. As you share thoughts that burden you, you come to terms with difficult emotions, and you gain acceptance and understanding of yourself.
Disclosure, or self-disclosure, is the act of revealing personal information about yourself to others. Disclosure is important when building relationships with friends, co-workers, intimate partners, and even family members. However, it can be difficult. Don’t rush into it, and make sure you disclose very personal information only to people who can be trusted. Start with superficial information such as your favourite food, colour, or hobbies. As with everything else, just keep practicing until you are perfect.