Conversations aren’t threatening or scary when everyone agrees. But what about those conversations when you don’t agree? Maybe a group of friends decide to get together at a certain restaurant. The restaurant is very far from where you live and you would rather meet someplace closer. Do you speak up?

Maybe a group of co-workers are talking about the boss. You don’t agree with their descriptions. Do you express your opinion?

A friend asks for a ride to the airport, a neighbor wants you to watch her children, or your boss asks if you can take on a new project. You don’t want to agree with any of these and there’s no reason that you have to. Do you agree to do them anyway?

Sometimes emotionally sensitive people have difficulty expressing disagreement or saying no. While sometimes keeping differing opinions to yourself may be the best choice, habitually not expressing your opinion can cause you stress and lead to loneliness. Not allowing yourself to have a voice can lead to feeling overwhelmed, emotional exhaustion, and resentment. It can also lead to feeling powerless and negative about yourself.

Even when people don’t agree with your views, expressing your opinions allows others to know you. Open expression of what you think and feel gives others a sense of safety. It’s also the way people connect. When you hide what you are thinking and feeling, that creates distance.

Not every situation is one in which you should openly express yourself. The context matters. When you are invested in a relationship though, allowing others to know who you are is key to building a connection.

If you are an emotionally sensitive person who hides who you are, think about what the costs are. Consider being more open with people you want to be close to. Visualize yourself saying no when you need/want to or disagreeing with a friend’s opinion. Practice saying no and expressing yourself openly. Allow your identity to be clear to those around you.

Allowing others to know who you are is a step out of loneliness.