We tend to have a much more negative view of ourself than others do – and our negative evaluation is often wrong!
Even when talking to strangers, we are usually too self-critical about the conversation, thinking we talk too much or should have said something differently. Research studies show that our conversation partners, even strangers, enjoy and like us more than we realize. There is a “liking gap” between our own view of ourself and what others think of us.
This is particularly true with those we are close to. When we share our vulnerability – admitting mistakes, seeking help, apologizing first, or sharing one’s feelings – we often fear we will be judged harshly or rejected. So we hold back, make excuses and do not tell the whole truth. Being open and intimate can feel scary, particularly if we are shy or emotionally sensitive. But again, we are most probably misjudging our loved-ones reactions. What might feel like weakness from the inside is just as likely to look like courage on the outside.
Being vulnerable has many proven benefits for the quality of our relationships, our health and even our job performance. For all those reasons, we have to overcome our hesitations and jump into conversation and share who we really are. We may think we are coming across as boring or a disaster but the listener is appreciating our inner spark and seeing us as far more interesting and brave than we believe.