Communicating Effectively: The Virtues of Self-disclosure

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Penny had never told any of her new friends about the drug habit she had kicked over ten years ago. She was sure if they knew about it they would think less of her. But she felt like a phony and decided to risk opening up to them. “I can’t believe it!” she beamed, “I thought it might really hurt my friendships, but instead it’s made them better. Now they’ve told me more about themselves and we’re much closer than before!”


There are clear advantages to being more open and transparent. There can be no genuine love or close human interaction without shared intimacies and confidences. Life would be dull and colorless indeed without taking at least a few emotional risks.

Many have discovered that when they disclosed something personal, perhaps even shameful, others have said “I feel the same way,” or “I did a similar thing.” The resulting loss of isolation can be most heartening.

(Obviously, there are times when others are not entirely accepting. If censure rather than consolation follows a particular revelation, review and consider the discussion in, “Receiving Criticism.” click here.)

Too many people carry a guarded attitude into their friendships and other encounters, and they miss the joy that comes from sincere sharing. One of the best ways to acquire self-knowledge is to reveal yourself to trusted others and seek out their opinions.

We are not advising you to wear your heart on your sleeve, or to reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings to everyone. Some people are in fact potentially treacherous, and shouldn’t be given the time of day, but it is usually not hard to determine who is trustworthy, who is for you and who might use information against you.

If you are accepted as people think you are, rather than as you really are, you will feel phony and insecure. It pays to build trust and intimacy by selectively expressing your gcnuine feelings.

Depriving yourself of the richness of intimate and loving relationships, by constantly hiding from others, leaves you feeling alienated from yourself.

• To be loved for who and what you are (including your faults and limitations) instead of for some image you have created, is the path toward personal and interpersonal fulfillment.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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