How To Let Your Guard Down
One of the easiest things to do after a trauma is put up walls. This never seems like a bad thing at first. After all, you’re protecting yourself from future hurt, which is good. Right? Well, there’s a difference between boundaries and putting your guard up. When you put your guard up, you prevent yourself from letting hurtful people in, but you also prevent yourself from letting loving people in as well.
These trust issues will keep you from true happiness. They lead down a path of loneliness and inauthenticity that’s totally unhealthy. So, we’ve written this post to help you learn to let your guard down. It’ll be so good for you, trust us. We know it might seem hard now, but with these actionable tips, you will see a big difference in your relationships.
How To Let Your Guard Down
What Does It Mean To Let Your Guard Down?
When you have walls up that prevent people from seeing who you really are, you push out both potential toxic AND healthy relationships. Though you don’t deserve to be hurt, you DO deserve to be loved. This is what makes putting your guard up so hard! Though the notion of a love relationship is exciting, the fear of a negative relationship is totally debilitating.
Letting your guard down means being unafraid to be yourself, feel your feelings, have your goals, and set your boundaries. Truly, it means being honest with yourself, and being honest with everyone around you, so you can achieve happiness and community. This involves accepting the risk of more hurt, but realizing it’s well worth the chance.
Reasons To Let Your Guard Down
We said it’s worth it, but why? Why should you let your guard down? Regaining your sense of self is the main reason to let your guard down. Stop walking around with a mask and show the world who you are. Here are all the reasons to let your guard down: You will . . .
- Be loved and feel loved.
- Combat loneliness and become a part of a community.
- Open yourself to new experiences and memories.
- Free yourself from the past.
- Gain strength and confidence.
- Free yourself from other people’s expectations.
- Achieve happiness and contentment.
- Learn to trust others again without fear.
- Allow your needs to be heard and met.
- Love yourself again.
How to Let Your Guard Down in a Relationship
Once you accept that it’s time to let your guard down, you’re probably paralyzed with the thought of, “How?” To be honest with you, it’ll take some time. You’ve had a ton of years to develop these bad habits of pushing people out and guarding yourself. So, it’ll take some time to retrain yourself to be confident with who you are and ready yourself to take the risk.
Commit to honesty.
First, you need to commit to honesty. You’ll feel exposed when you start dressing, acting, and feeling true to you and your personality. But, if you tell yourself you will not lie, and you will not mask, you can start showing yourself and allowing people to accept or reject you. Not everyone will love you, but when you’re honest, you’ll achieve much deeper relationships.
Stop thinking and be happy.
Caroline Stanbury said in her podcast Divorced, Not Dead, you need to stop thinking and be happy. What does she mean by this? She means don’t be concerned about what you think will be perceived as acceptable and right. Instead, trust your instincts, and do what your body told you was right the first time.
Breaking free from the fear of what others think is hard. But, when we start scrolling social media and taking unsolicited advice, our choices become unclear. We go back and forth on what to do, and soon our choices are motivated only by what people say and what we see on Instagram.
Instead of listening and reading all the noise, find a quiet place to listen to yourself. Try journaling or mediating to hear yourself better. Once you have made peace with a decision, don’t waver when the noise returns.
It won’t feel safe to be vulnerable at first. Your body is already telling you you’re going to get hurt from the moment you start being honest. Fight against this, and remind yourself the risk is worth the gain.
Of course, you’ll experience more hurt. You will! Accept that now. But, realize you’ll once again grow close to those that really love you. The relationships you gain will be worth the risk of hurt.
When you want to be vulnerable with people, start by telling personal stories. You can control the story you tell. It doesn’t have to be anything super personal, but the simple act of honesty will be great practice as you dive deeper into the conversation.
Remember, everyone has fears.
You might feel like you’re the only one dealing with fears and walls. That’s not true at all! Everyone deals with fears and risks when stepping into a new relationship. Remember that they’re nervous too, and they’re probably struggling to be vulnerable as well. Bond over this mutual stressor!
Listen to others and learn.
As you tell stories, your new friend or partner will tell stories too. Listen to them and try to learn from the way they allow themselves to be vulnerable. Take note of how you feel when they tell you personal things. Usually, you feel valued and trusted. Then, you grow closer to them! Realize this is how people feel when you are talking to them as well. Speaking of listening, a great way to get to know a new partner better is to listen to some podcasts for couples. Choose a podcast that is meaningful to you and share the experience with your partner. Then, encourage them to do the same.
Accept all outcomes.
Though there is risk involved, you’ve got to give people a chance. When you enter into a conversation or relationship, accept all outcomes right away. Realize that it might not work out. Realize you might not connect. And, realize it might grow into something incredible! Accept all outcomes, so your body is ready if things aren’t as positive as you hoped.
Get help healing.
The reason you have walls is because of past trauma. If you’re struggling to tear the walls down, it may be because you haven’t dealt with your past issues. Don’t be afraid to get help with healing by going to a therapist. A therapist can help you work through these issues, so you can build trust with other humans again.
Put yourself out there.
Once you start being vulnerable to find love or friends, you need to put yourself out there! Head out to a bar, club, library, or park to meet like-minded people, and don’t be afraid to start the conversation. If you really want to meet people and combat loneliness, you’ll need to go where the people are! This can include joining helpful and valuable online forums as well. Helpful and valuable being the keywords here.
Find good people.
While working through the early stages of letting your guard down, try to go places where you’ll find good people. The night scene doesn’t produce the best quality friends and partners. So, instead, try going to places where you’ll find like-minded people, who are less likely to break your trust. Work, church, community clubs, hobby groups, and more are great places to find people with similar goals and values!
Be mindful of other defense mechanisms.
When you bring your walls down this way, you might see them pop up in other ways. Be on the lookout! Dissociating, toying with your new relationships, and disengaging are all ways you could subconsciously disconnect to reduce risk. Instead, keep pushing forward. Remain vulnerable and honest.
Realize not everyone will understand you.
Not everyone is going to be your best friend. That’s totally okay. You’ll have dates that don’t work out and friendships that fizzle. Just like you don’t love everyone you meet, everyone you meet won’t always like you. It’s not personal, and it’s important that you understand that right away.
Find ways to express yourself.
As you grow to accept your emotions and thoughts, find ways to express them. You could do an art project, record a podcast, write a memoir, or journal. As you learn to express yourself, you’ll learn to love and accept your feelings, too.
Being vulnerable won’t come easy for a long while. Each time you converse, put forth a conscious effort to be honest. As you open up again and again, it’ll get easier. But for now, you need to remind yourself over and over to keep trying.
You won’t get it during the first week or even the first month. You’re not just making a mental switch, you’re dealing with past trauma. That’s tough! Be patient, and realize you’ll mess up sometimes. Be okay with the journey and be authentic about where you are on your path to healing.
We hope all the new conversations make you happy. But, whether they make you really excited or really scared, just breathe. Take it slow. Think about what you want to say. Think about how you feel. And, think about how you want your relationship to proceed. You got this. Just breathe!
How to Let Your Guard Down Professionally
Letting your guard down in a relationship is one thing, but professionally is just as challenging! There are few places where you’ll feel more vulnerable than in the workplace. Your productivity and performance is EVERYTHING, which leaves lots of opportunity for humiliation, fear, and even anger. This can cause you to put your guard up. But, when you do that, you stunt your potential growth. Bring those walls down at work, so you can achieve your ultimate potential! Here’s how:
Set your goals and be okay with the rest.
Setting goals is great to keep you focused on achieving big tasks. However, goals have another function: They keep you focused on what’s important. If you’re striving towards a sales goal, there’s no reason to feel ashamed of your lack of organization. If you’re working towards expanding your product line, don’t beat yourself up about your marketing success.
Do you see what we mean? When you strive towards a goal, it gives you permission to say to everything else, “Next time.” Then, move on. Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by what you haven’t done, when you’ve done so much. Be confident in what you’ve achieved. You can hear more about this concept on this episode of With Whit.
Guard your greatness and listen to yourself.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your own success. And, it’s easy to feel the lies from social media that tell you you’re not spending enough time with your family, you’re not spending enough time on self-care, and you’re not spending enough time focusing on what’s important. Social media is only one side of the story, and you have no reason to feel guilty for the greatness you achieved!
When others try to tear you down and convince you to tap out, guard your greatness. Remember what you love and what you’ve felt called to do. Listen to yourself and what’s right, not what others tell you. Listen to our very own Nicole Walters talk more about this here.
Make your values and boundaries clear.
Though walls are dangerous, boundaries are good. Having confidence in your boundaries and values, and clearly communicating those in the workplace, will keep you grounded. You’ll be taking care of yourself primarily, untethered by what others think and what you feel like you “should” do. Letting these walls down not only lets those around you know where you stand, but it also gives you permission to stand firm on those values without guilt.
Use facts and speak truth to yourself.
Again, the lies are easy to hear. Always speak honestly. Not only to others, but to yourself, too. When you start feeling outside yourself and like you’re just a puppet for the machine, remember who you are. And more importantly, remember how you got where you are. Look at the facts of your hard work, results, and talents. You can even go as far as to write them down and read them to yourself when you start masking and guarding again!
Accept risks and what’s out of your control.
Don’t be afraid of losing what you have. We know, this is tough – you have these walls because you’ve already lost things in the past. And, it hurt a lot. Professionally, though, you don’t need to carry that fear!
There’s always another job, another opportunity, and another avenue to happiness. The path where you keep your walls up and hide who you are and what you can do? That’s not one of those roads that leads to joy! Accept the risk, understand things are out of your control, and let whatever happens happen.
Letting your guard down will take time, but when you do, you’ll unlock a feeling of true self and true happiness.
Take time to plan how you’ll let your guard down. Check in with yourself regularly to see how you’re doing and how you can be more intentional. Soon, you’ll find yourself being yourself and people will love it! You’ll achieve deeper relationships, more success, and the ultimate sense of peace simply by being authentically you and dropping those walls.
You can do it! And, if you need more inspiration, check out one of our many podcasts. Almost all of these fantastic female hosts have experienced what you’re going through. Seek guidance and inspiration from them. Plus, come back weekly to read our posts! We have a lot of content on making podcasts, but also on being the best version of yourself. Alright, it’s time to show the world who you are!