How To Truly Let Your Guard Down & Really Start Living Life

Like it or not, we all know that emotional intimacy (of any kind) requires letting out guard down. But for many of us, that’s a real challenge because we feel exposed, scared, insignificant, in danger, or some fun mixture of all of those. Ultimately, when done in the right ways with the right people, letting your guard down will strengthen your relationships and by default will also strengthen you as a person. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Own your vulnerability. For some reason, we think that being vulnerable is bad thing, but allowing yourself to be in such a scary space from time to time is often when you’ll find yourself truly connecting to someone. It’s a big gamble, and there is always the chance of getting hurt, but there’s also a chance of things turning out amazing.
  2. Make a conscious effort. If you’ve been screwed over in the past, it can be hard not to go into every situation with a negative attitude and the thought that you’re going to be hurt again if you don’t stay on your toes. Try to shift your perceptions and believe that every person you meet has the potential to be a friend, if not a romantic partner.
  3. Try something new every day. Our entire life is interconnected, so while getting the guts to finally try indoor rock climbing doesn’t sound like much, it still builds your resolve on one level and you never know when that will help you out. Trying something new doesn’t have to be extreme, either. Maybe you’ve been avoiding a certain coffee shop lately because you once ran into your ex there. Take a deep breath and go back again. You know they make better lattes, anyway.
  4. Ditch the defensiveness. Try to pay attention to what you take overly personally. Most of the time, people are worried about themselves and aren’t actually trying to offend you. On the occasions someone is being purposely rude, write them off as the jerks they are and move on. One bad apple shouldn’t spoil the bunch, and not everyone is a bad person.
  5. Take baby steps if you must. When you realize that you want to change something about your life, it can feel like you have a whole lot of work to do get there… and you probably do. But don’t discount the tiny changes along the way. They’re what make it possible to wake up one day and feel like an entirely different person.
  6. Hang out with good people. We all want good people in our life, but too many of us hang out with judgmental energy draining people that make us feel crappy anyway. That however, is always a choice. Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with people who are positive, open, and encouraging in every way.
  7. Get familiar with your feelings. Some of us don’t like to let our guard down because we don’t have the slightest clue about what will come out when we do. Being in touch with how different emotions feel can cut down on some of the surprise factor. Take some time to really think about what you’re feeling and why that might be. This will help you better understand your reactions to the things that happen in your life and how you interact with the people you encounter.
  8. Stop judging yourself so harshly. We tend to hate the things that are different about ourselves and see them as shortcomings, until we realize that our differences are of the best things we’ve got. If you own them, then everyone else will as well.
  9. Know that boundaries are healthy. Walls and boundaries are different. Walls keep everything out, while boundaries let everything good in and let you know when it’s time to bounce if something not so good is making an entrance. Learn the difference between the two and be mindful when dealing with other people about which you’re using.
  10. Express yourself. There are lots of things that are best kept to yourself, but the things that matter should never be kept in. If someone doesn’t respect what you need to say, then they probably aren’t respecting you enough in general. You’re a valuable person with things to say, and you should feel confident in that.
  11. Ask for help when you need it. There’s no use in pretending to be a one woman powerhouse if you’re not. People are going to assume you don’t need anything, and then you’ll just resent them for it. There’s no harm in admitting that you can’t do everything alone. You’re a human being, not a robot.
  12. Just give people a chance. You can’t completely avoid getting hurt in life, so you might as well have some fun and interesting experiences the rest of the time.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog