Why You Must Stay Open (When You Want To Shut Down)

This post is for those of us that have a tendency to retreat from the world when life gets a bit tough. We like to handle our challenges inwardly and on our own. We find it hard to ask for help. We tend to hide our vulnerabilities and would rather wait until we are ready to show a brave face to the world. We withdraw and at times shut down when we are challenged. We take time out. We get quiet. We process.

This has been my default way of being for several years, and in many ways I actually feel it is a quite a strong and beautiful quality.

But there is a fine line that we walk when we take this approach.

Yes, it can make us self-sufficient and empowered. Yes, it can mean we develop a powerful ability to dive deep in to challenges and grow from them. And yes, it means we show up for the beautiful inner work rather than distracting ourselves with external stimulation.

However, if you are anything like me, the more I do this, the more it becomes a very comfortable way of being. Sometimes we don’t realise that we are actually shutting down and closing off.

Instead of opening up and feeling, we are in fact building walls around our heart. We are creating inner barriers. We are closing ourselves off from receiving the love, support and beauty that is waiting to flow towards us, if we will only let it in.


Stay Open When You Are Challenged 

October has been a tough month for me. Lots of challenges have arisen externally, and seeing I have been surrounded by so much uncertainty, I have found myself retreating to the comfort of my inner world.

The external world has felt scary so I have found safety and familiarity within myself and within what I know.

One of my biggest challenges in October was that a significant relationship in my life came to an end. The beautiful thing about this relationship was that it was the one place I was unable to shut down. 

With this person I was forced to open up, share and connect. He was a phenomenal teacher for me and it was the first place I learnt to feel safe being vulnerable, to give and receive love wholly and completely, and to communicate my truth even when I was terrified of how it would be received.


Don’t Retreat To A Place Of Comfort

So, without him in my life at the moment I have fallen back in to my comfort. I have not wanted to write on my blog, to connect on social media or interact with my community. I have at times not answered phone calls from friends or loved ones. And some days, I have spent the entire day curled up in bed with a book, almost unable to face the world.

I have realised that I now need to be the person for myself who pushes me to open up when I most want to shut down. I have to be the one to call myself out, to stretch myself to speak up, to push myself to connect and ask for help.

And that was the feeling that called me to write this post. To not wait to write until I felt better, but to write whatever I am feeling, right now.


Tear Down The Walls Around Your Heart

There is so much power in being willing to share ourselves with others, in the times when we feel the most vulnerable.

To be willing to admit we need support and we cannot do it on our own. To let people see we don’t have our shit together all the time.

To be real.

I want to keep opening.

I want to keep facing the world no matter how many challenges it throws at me.

I want to find the inner strength to stand in the face of it all and know I will be ok.

I want to be real, authentic, honest and true to myself.

I want to stretch myself to open my heart even when there is fear, so that I can keep showing up as the person I want to be.

Be aware of those moments when the walls come up around your heart. It is a dangerous time.

You close off from love. You close off from support. You close off from connection.

It is in the moments where we most want to close off that we must open. We must do the opposite of what fear is telling us.

We must resist the need to self-protect and instead make ourselves more vulnerable than ever.

Keep opening. Keep sharing. Keep asking for help. Keep showing up, no matter what.

We are all in this together. You don’t have to do it alone.


I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this post.

With love,

Connie x


18 thoughts on “Why You Must Stay Open (When You Want To Shut Down)”

    1. My pleasure Jess. I feel sharing this helps us all remember we are not alone, and that we are often experiencing the same thing even if we think we are the only one x

  1. Yes I identify with this post. I ignore friends and family. Shut down my social media accounts. Push away everything. The world can feel against me, punishing me. But that’s just the negative story I tell myself. I think it’s easier to feel negative when I am sad but it is not. Five months after my break up I still struggle with this from time to time. I have had a few amazing first dates with new guys but I deny them a second because it’s soooo scary – I had a future in my head about how my life should go and I never though I would be here again.

    I love what you had to say in this post. These are the times I need to stay the most open and challenge myself to grow. 🙂 Thank you.

    1. Beautiful Brianna, alot of fear can arise when we really open up. It feels safer to shut down and close off. Keep that heart open beautiful and let love in x

  2. Beautiful girl… thank you for your vulnerability but also for sharing the amazing insights your personal challenges have offered up – they help us all.
    You know that I can be very similar in terms of retreating to my own inner world – and I know how difficult it is to open up to others when you are in that vulnerable state. I am 100% here for you and am honoured that you let me in to support you. We are ALL sending you love + light. So proud of you and love everything about you.


    1. Darling Claire it has been so beautiful to have your endless love and support through this time. I love that I have friends who lift me up and give me the exact guidance I need. Thank you for being patient with me while I found the courage to open up 🙂 Love you x

  3. Oh Connie, thank you for your honesty. I really relate to this and often cannot find the words when I am hurting, so I close up and don’t say anything. Even just yesterday, I posted on my social media I would be offline for awhile as I deal with some “stuff” but maybe I too need to step up and share what I’m going through. Or at least answer my phone! Or have a shower and leave the house! This means so much to me, I am beaming you love honey xx xx xx

    1. Me too Claire. Sometimes it feels too hard to articulate it to others, so I just go back to that safe space within me where I feel understood. We definitely need to take time out for ourselves sometimes, but there is also great power in sharing the not-so-pretty-times with others. Love you xx And ps: don’t worry some days I didn’t leave the house either

  4. Hi Connie,

    I just wanted to say thank you.

    Recently I’ve been going through something quite similar to you in that a significant relationship has come to an end.

    My default setting has been to hibernate, away from friends, away from family and to an extent, away from myself. I go to the health food shop, I drink green smoothies until they come out of my ears and I attend yoga classes almost everyday…in this way I suppose I am trying to convince myself that I’m doing well, that I’m looking after my health, but in reality I’m doing the opposite.

    This morning when saying ‘excuse me’ to someone on the train, I realised that those were the first words to leave my mouth for almost 48 hours due to my self-imposed solitude and rather than feeling healthy and strong, I burst into tears.

    Tonight, your post popped up and reading it was like seeing myself in the mirror. The way you articulated the feeling, the vulnerability of it all and the fear of opening back up…it’s like you were inside my head.

    To know someone else who is in the same place as I am is brave enough to reconnect with the world despite the overwhelming to do the opposite inspires me more than I put into words.

    Thank you, you’ve rescued me from myself 🙂

    1. Oh Zoe, your comment really touched me. Isn’t it funny that we think we are taking such good care of ourselves, but the one thing that often makes the biggest difference is that human connection, the feeling that someone ‘get us’ or simply a hug. Yes, the yoga classes and green smoothies are an amazing form of self love, but embracing the vulnerability and being willing to show it to others is an incredible act of self love too. Hugs xx

  5. Hey Connie,

    Totally hearing you! I broke up with my ex in June and haven’t written a blog post since. Although this for me was perfect as I tend to reach out too much rather than cry, grieve and feel – I get busy, talk too much and distract myself.

    It was so important for me to feel this one out. I needed to have the rug swept out from under me so I could be literally taken down to my knees. My ego was going bananas for a couple of months after and so I really had to be so gentle at observing it and mindful of what I shared and who I opened to. My mum and bff got a daily phone call and a weekly “Mish break down” (haha) opening my heart to them totally helped me heal. I processed loads of past stuff too, parents break up & past unresolved relationships, used the chaos as a time to really strip myself bare. Bring on the heart ache and agony!!

    Even if you choose not to share during your process know that its making a difference anyway, you can’t know yet what new wisdom you’re going to have to share with others at the end of all this.

    I’m almost ready to open up about my process, what I did and what I learnt from the break up gift and the magic I’ve manifested since out of the worst pain of my life.

    Break ups fucking suck!! There’s honestly no way around that! It was so important for me not to judge my truth, no matter whether that was that I felt disempowered, unmotivated, fearful, self loathing, angry, whatevs … Who said those feelings were wrong anyway? (Oh yeah, me!) You’re not fully human if you don’t embrace it all!! And that was my biggest lesson; self love is actually allowing myself to feel shit about myself, not resisting any part of me. Seems kinda contradictory hey?

    I healed most by allowing myself to curl up in a ball, stain my doona with mascara, scream out “why?”, admit my lonliness to my girlfriends, take a friggin day off work to bawl in the bath, and be perfectly disempowered! It was empowering ha!! Go figure!

    Wishing you a tonne of nights on your knees in utterly messy surrender xx you deserve that much healing!!

    Mishy <3

    1. Thank you for your gorgeous authenticity Mish. Yes, break ups totally suck but as you said, there is so much wisdom to be gained whether you share it with others at the time, or later. We all have our own unique way of processing and I totally feel everything you shared. I am walking a delicate balance between diving deep in to my pain and feeling it out, and also finding the courage to share my experiences with my friends, family and my community even if it is messy.

      Sending you love xx

  6. This is so beautiful Connie,
    I think everyone has been there at some point. And you’re right, it is so important to recognize when you’ve done as much healing as you can in seclusion and to have the will to step back into the world to complete your healing.

    1. Yes Sophie, I believe there is a beautiful balance that we must find between our own inner healing and the need to then open up to the world so we can move forward bravely. Thank you for your comment gorgeous xx

  7. Oh darling Connie this is just a beautiful post. I too have been in that place. I love how you have opened up honey and shared what you’re going through with others, which I’m sure many of us can relate to and can learn from your words of wisdom. Sending you so much love and light during this time gorgeous xxxx

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