“To be open with another person you must (a) be aware of who you are, (b) accept yourself, and (c) take the risk of trusting the other person to be accepting of you” (Stewart, 2012, p. 211). I realize more than ever before through this course just how shy I am. I am not open, and it is challenging for me to disclose myself to others. Stewart (2012) talks about the impact self-disclosure has on relationships. If you can not reveal yourself to others, you will never build a close relationship or be valued by others (Stewart, 2012). To stay silent is to stay strangers, and that is how I feel about people I have known for several years—they are strangers. I have neglected to take the time to be open around others and find myself distance from others. Stewart (2012) provides several ways that self-disclosure can begin to develop, grow, and maintained in relationships. Self-disclosure or being open allows you and others to get to know each other. Individuals start by sharing small exchanges of information and eventually share more sensitive and intimate areas.
At times there is more information shared then at different times, but there is an openness in the self-disclosure (Stewart, 2012). According to Stewart (2012) common goals, needs, interests, activities, and values are revealed through self-disclosure. He further explains, that there must be effective collaboration in the relationship to achieve mutual goals. Just as self-disclosure develops relationships, the lack of self-disclosure or refusal to acknowledge feelings can hurt the relationship (Stewart, 2012). Self-disclosure requires taking a risk, and one must be willing to trust another to build a better relationship (Stewart, 2012).
Not only does self-disclosure have a positive impact on relationships, but it also provides benefits (Stewart, 2012). The sharing of feelings, confidences, and caring improve the commitment to each other through disclosure (Stewart, 2012). Consensual validation comes about by exposure, and it allows us to validate our perceptions and reactions in comparison to those of others. It also clarifies our understanding of ourselves and fulfills a human need to be known and accepted (Stewart, 2012). The Bible tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up….” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). Self-disclosure is risky when starting a new relationship with someone, but with each conversation, we learn more about who we are and helping someone else do the same. So, therefore, as I study and reflect on the impact and benefits of self-disclosure, I must gradually begin to be open to others. The desire for more intimate relationships is present, and I must take the risk of not staying silent.