You’re sitting in class and your neighbor hastily asks to copy answers from your book. You open your mouth to speak but you find that no words are coming out, and before you know it she’s already replicating your work with tremendous speed.
It is not surprising to find out that many of us are like this. What we lack is the art of self-expression.
What is self-expression?
It is the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas through words, choices, or actions.
Some emotions are hard to verbalize but if we learn to express ourselves honestly then we would be in a better position to understand, acknowledge and deal with our emotions rather than denying them and bottling them up.
How to express yourself…
- Know yourself
Self-awareness is the clear discernment of your personality, including your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. In order to be more self-aware, we need to practice self-evaluation or self-introspection and mindfulness which means being present and aware of yourself and your surroundings rather than daydreaming or being lost in thought.
Another way to be more self-aware is to ask the people you love. Yes, being self-aware is centered on one’s inner self but getting external feedback is very beneficial.
Being self-aware allows us to be more dynamic, enhances our acceptance, and stirs up positive self-development. It helps us to better understand others’ points of view, practice self-control, and work more productively and creatively.
Example of self-awareness: Susie at school
Susie struggles to study for her tests causing her to produce results below average. She notices the difference between her standards and her performance so she undergoes a self-assessment to identify the problem and how to improve.
She asks herself what makes studying so difficult for her and she realizes that it is the way she studies. She reads large chunks of information from her textbook without taking breaks. She experiments with different styles of studying and realizes that rewriting the notes in small chunks while taking breaks is the most efficient and effective way for her to study.
- Know what you’re about
What do you stand for? What are your beliefs? What do you represent? What do you like/dislike?
- Find the type(s) of expression that suits YOU!
Types of self-expression
Intellectual: psychology, philosophy, business, economics, science, etc.
Physical: yoga, dance, gymnastics, sports, modeling, etc.
Voice: sharing thoughts and feelings, podcasting, seminars, motivational speaking, etc.
Other forms are humor, written, musical, religion, artistic, home and garden, fashion and beauty, machinery, and new age spiritual practices.
Self-expression is all about providing and sharing a part of who you are with the rest of the world. Many of us hide our true selves out of fear of judgment and being excluded but we have to realize that our quirks are the very things that make us unique. You can start small by trying mini social experiments, post ideas, thoughts, or opinions on social media and then just say what’s on your mind. The more you practice the easier it will be.
What you need to self-express
Resilience: It is not all the time that when you honestly express yourself that you will receive positive feedback but it is necessary to have thick skin and not personalize the words/actions of others.
A positive attitude: Being optimistic will help you endure the face of rejection and misunderstandings.
A channel for self-expression: You have to find your form of self-expression e.g. spoken, written, artistic, etc.
Bravery: you need the courage to face rejection, confrontation, etc.
Self-love: In order to unapologetically express yourself, you need to love and accept yourself first before others can.
Importance of self-expression
The importance of self-expression is subjective to your location and the type of culture you are a part of. In some countries, individualism is not very important but nonetheless, it has many advantages. Self-expression provides fulfillment in our lives, it allows us to reach our full potential, helps us develop stronger boundaries, enhances relationships with yourself and others, and can help you conquer your fear and anxiety.
When you honestly and openly express yourself you will then be able to reflect on your core inner self and make valuable contributions to the world we live in.
How to improve self-expression skills
Just like with any other skill, in order to improve you need to practice. Practice makes progress, not perfect hence signifying the fact that no one is completely self-aware or self-expressive.
Self-expression skills include, but are not limited to the following:
- Body language
- Artistic ventures
Learning to be more self-expressive helps us to understand ourselves better and is a fundamental part of being human. Take advantage of the fact and begin self-expressing!
“Everyone is talented because everyone who is human has something to express” – Brenda Ueland
“Everyone has their own ways of expression. I believe we all have a lot to say, but finding ways to say it is more than half the battle” – Criss Jami
- “What Is Self – Expression and How to Foster It? (20 Activities + Examples).” Courtney Ackerman, MSc, 12-10-2020.https://positivepsychology.com/self-expression
- “5 Benefits That Come From Expressing Yourself on a Daily Basis.” BONVITA, NOVEMBER 28,2016.www.bonvitastyle.com/5-benefits-that-come-from-expressing-yourself-on-a-daily-basis
- “How to Authentically Express Yourself for Power, Confidence, and Influence.” The Master Philosopher, Oct 24,2017.https://medium.com/@MasterPhiliosopher/how-to-authentically-express-yourself-for-power-confidence-and-influence-7c16bd848ff9
- “What is Self-Awareness and why is It Important? [+5 Ways to Increase It].” Courtney E.Ackerman,Msc,16-10-2020.https://positivepsychology.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/
- “Self-Expression and Creativity: Managing Feelings.” Smart Recovery.https://www.smartrecovery.org/self-expression-and-creativity-managing-feelings/