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Self Expression
Oct 30, 2023

Reading time 7 min.

Expression is about communicating a true aspect of yourself with the outer world and through the medium that works for you. Expressing gives our inner self permission to touch the world slightly, to test the waters of our environment and to observe what comes from that.

Self-expression is a form of release; a venting of one’s inner mind and feelings; the creation of relief. It can take form in art, music, writing, fashion etc. Most times, however, individuals may feel the need to repress aspects of themselves to survive their environment, thus limiting them from fulfilling their fullest potential.

Words such as "Don’t dim to fit in," could be what we tend to hear from time to time and yet still not be sure how not to dim.

How do we know we are dimming when we do not know when we shine?

A good question.

There are many ways an individual lights up and these will include means of expressing themselves in a way that may involve art and other recreational and technical experiences. What matters is that we are being gifted the feeling of release, the ability to decompress and be, without thinking. We are given a chance to breathe.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou

There is a story inside all of us waiting to be told, albeit privately or publicly, it doesn’t matter. The story wants to be brought into physical form, to be acknowledged, to be felt, to be understood and healed depending on the context. It may be your back story, your mental state, the way you realised dancing in the garden at a certain hour uplifts your mood etc. Your story is a feeling that wants your attention. It wants to accompany the exhale that comes with expressing what is on your chest after holding it in for so long. There is a longing for stories to be told, it could be through text or music, through dance or film, or even through baking or carpentry. Your means of expressing are limitless and formless.

The Act of Self-Expressing

Maybe you find it difficult to express. Maybe you find difficulty in sitting with your feelings. These are reasons why we talk about ‘channelling’ certain feelings into productive action.

The simplest way to begin personally is by journaling. Writing down your thoughts gets your creativity flowing, you attract the words your body is trying to tell you, and you begin to get into the flow. This opens up a well inside you, giving room for inspiration.

It is inspiration that leads you to find the appropriate medium for your self-expression. Inspiration comes from within and is something you listen to to know where to go and what to do, it has nothing to do with anyone else.

With self-expression, it is important to know your boundaries, meaning knowing how much you share and what you keep to yourself. There needs to be a line somewhere to preserve dignity and integrity. This is where refining listening to yourself comes in. There are some stories not meant to be shared with everyone.

It is with boundaries that you will learn how to train your tongue and that is always a fun exercise.

Allow yourself to feel and look silly. Don’t expect to get it right immediately. Think of it as learning how to ride a bike, you keep trying until you get a hang of it and can ride freely through the street. We can learn to breathe through our uncomfortable feelings around humiliation when we start something new.

Don’t expect to be perfect immediately!

When it comes to expressing yourself, the feedback you receive may be a polar reaction.

Negative Feedback

  1. Certain loved ones feel uncomfortable with this ‘new’ you.
    This may be shock at your ability to change as well as the lack of awareness that change is constant. Ideally, a community should hold space for others to change and embrace even more of who they are. It is our inability to hold space for others that leaves them either afraid to open up and express themselves further or it leads to estranged relationships where they confidently search for a community that accepts them.

Our inability to hold space for the expansion of others in our community is due to our inability to hold space for the expansion of ourselves individually.

  1. You intimidate others and your expression is resisted.

Naturally, your newfound openness and expression of self will ruffle a few feathers. Pay no mind to the best of your ability. Refusing to engage in passive aggression and such, goes a long way, as it does nothing to take it personally. When you focus more on yourself and your journey, your inability to take things personally increases.

  1. You get people talking, which triggers your sensitivity.

Of course, grasping your sense of self and expressing it freely will get people going. It is a shock to see someone do something confidently that they have only imagined in private. The need to be accepted in our environment may subtly push against our sense of Self, causing us to conform and contort to belong in the place we call ‘home’. As a result, the ones who choose to do things differently will cause an uproar among households, as it is natural for communities to gossip. Think of it as a favour, they are making an effort to inform and broadcast the ‘new’ you. The people around you should be aware of your new changes so you can do your best to avoid points 1 and 2. When people are informed, they know what to expect and it saves you a lot of time explaining, although the cheeky ones may do their best to bait or engage you in conversation about it. You can politely excuse yourself from the conversation.

  1. You attract attention

Attention can come in different ways; positively and somewhat negatively. It may procure a fear towards people’s increased interest towards you. When you express yourself and it resonates with people, naturally they will be drawn to you and want to get to know you how they can. Fear may show up due to weak boundaries that are unable to filter out people with ulterior motives and make room for the ones with good intentions. You are to understand that self-expression is a form of expressing your inner light, this causes people and energies of different forms to be drawn to you. This is why exercising boundaries and having discernment is important.

  1. There may be strong resistance towards you

Pushback, maybe a result of your expression triggering those around you, they may be loved ones or strangers. The reason they are triggered is that, on a subconscious level, a limiting belief of theirs that may be around self-expression is fired up. When we are triggered, the first thing that occurs is our nervous system shifting into fight or flight. As a result, the response people may have towards you may fall under those categories. How you deal with it is up to you but some recommendations would be; to not give any of it a reaction and to stand your ground where appropriate.

Positive Feedback

  1. You are applauded for embracing your identity
    Those who have been subjected to repression find celebration in a kindred spirit finding their voice and expressing themselves. You are met with encouragement, support and acceptance from certain groups of people. You find it is the response you’ve been seeking for most of your life.

  2. You attract your tribe

When you show up authentically through self-expression, you become more attractive, drawing attention towards yourself. This makes you stand out towards like minds and hearts and may lead you to find your tribe. Members of your tribe are people who are similar to you, they feel like kindred souls who are here to support you on your life journey. You will be so happy you found them.

  1. You feel a sense of fulfilment and achievement

  2. You discover your purpose

  3. You get to know yourself on a deeper level

  4. You become more confident

  5. Higher sense of worth

From the points stated above it is clear there are more positives to your self-expression than the negatives. When you express freely, you remain receptive to higher thoughts and feelings that act as a guide towards a greater purpose. The release and the relaxation from expressing your truth builds you up internally, increasing feelings of self-worth. When you know who you are and what you bring to the table, the quality of your life improves in different avenues.

A reason we may feel the need to heed the negative feedback we receive is due to codependency — wanting to be accepted by others or needing the approval of others to survive. The downside to codependency is that you have to shut down aspects of your identity to be accepted. This is never feasible in the long run.

When we take the leap of faith required to express ourselves and be authentic in the way we show up, what accompanies us is a deeper sense of self due to the release of our unique essence into the world. There is a natural cage we may entrap our creative, fun, expressive self into to survive but by taking the leap of faith toward authentic self-expression, we embrace the desire to thrive instead.

To infinity and beyond.

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