The importance of self-expression for successful living…and mental health in general.
What is meant by the words “self expression”? The dictionary defines self expression as “the expression or assertion of one’s own personality, as in conversation, behavior, poetry, or painting”.
Practicing self-expression is a basic desire of our heart and is something few people practice regularly; for the most part this is because many people think that if we saw the “real” them, we would not like them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s fix that shall we?
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
The Benefits of Self-Expression
When assessing the importance of self-expression, there are three great benefits that will assist you in the rest of your life. It may feel strange at first, even unnatural, but the benefits outweigh the strangeness.
The skills you learn along the way will help you in all areas of your life.
1. You learn to listen to your intuition.
Gavin DeBecker, in his book The Gift of Fear, thinks that we should encourage our children to meet strangers…often.
Through these encounters, children will naturally tap into their inherent intuition to decide if the person is good or bad.
Children usually follow their own intuition until forced out of the habit. Forcing children to hug relatives that they are wary of causes intuition to be squashed.
Because of that, we learn to not trust our own instincts.
If you wonder how so many people are getting scammed these days, there is your answer.
Without the benefit of our guiding inner voice, we tend to make decisions based on expectations, fear of missing out (FOMO), and trusting strangers to be honest and trustworthy. A good scammer uses that against us.
It’s time to stop doing things that suppress the best indicator of right and wrong…our intuition.
An important quote from that book states “The inner voice is wise, and part of my purpose in writing this book is to give people permission to listen to it.”
The first step is to start listening to that still small voice that is trying to guide you.
Try going to a shopping mall, or place with lots of people. See if you ‘feel’ anything around strangers. Your first instinct may be to mentally run away from those feelings but try not to do that.
Feel each emotion, no matter what it is, without any self-judgment.
Your emotions are simply what they are, and there aren’t any wrong emotions, only wrong ways that we’ve learned to react to them.
So, quiet yourself and allow yourself to feel because you can’t express yourself if you don’t know what you’re feeling.
2. You acknowledge your feelings.
By self-validating and honoring your feelings, you learn to seek answers from within yourself, rather than always looking outside yourself for solutions.
In reality, all we need we already have inside of us.
Acknowledging your feelings might seem very frightening at first because you feel vulnerable. That’s okay. That feeling of vulnerability will go away once your mind realizes there isn’t really any need for fear.
3. You learn to tune in to how your body reacts to your emotions
Body awareness is very important in learning to express yourself, as it is one of the best ways to gauge your comfort level.
If you tense up in response to an emotion, show your body and brain that everything is going to be okay by doing some deep breathing.
Close your eyes, acknowledge the feeling, and then let it go. If a part of your body tenses up, consciously relax it.
Use your new awareness to find what works for you in terms of expressing yourself, both emotionally and physically.
Forms of Self Expression
Not everyone can adequately express themselves from the get-go. In many cases, practice makes perfect.
It’s important for you to be able to express yourself and express your wants, needs, and desires. As well, you want to feel safe expressing things you don’t like.
Being able to express yourself is necessary to live an authentic, fulfilling, and healthy life.
If you want to create the life of your dreams, practice tapping into your innate creativity.
Being creative is an excellent way to tap into living in the moment and intuition. It’s difficult to focus on anything but the present when your brain is actively involved in creating.
This is one of the ways you can live a healthier, more balanced, more fulfilling life overall.
There are a so many ways to begin expressing yourself through creativity:
Go outside and be in nature
If you know of a spot near the water (ocean, lake, or river) go there, close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature.
Walk barefoot in grass; stick your fingers in sand or dirt and feel how it feels; touch trees to feel the leaves, branches, and bark.
Look for and find beauty in all places – beauty that will inspire your creativity
Say what you mean
Learn to express yourself effectively. Try to practice thinking before you speak, and try to boil down your thoughts into key points.
If you are like me, a chatty Cathy, this takes serious practice! But listeners will appreciate it.
Learning to communicate effectively is huge and many people don’t. But we can learn.
Find or make a creative spot for yourself.
If you have the room, create a space to be creative. Use a quiet corner of your bedroom, a spot in the garage, or your back yard or patio.
Decorate the area with fun or sacred objects or gifts that really warmed your heart. Use items that will inspire your creative side, like a thoughtful card from a good friend.
Be the way you want, not how society dictates
Practice the fine art of being yourself. Not the employee, not the parent or sibling, and not how you think you should.
- Wear mis-matched socks and clothing items. Or…
- Pick out random items of clothing at the thrift store and wear them when you’re with friends (I saw that on Bob’s Burgers. It looks fun)
- Dance around your home with the music cranked and “dance like no one’s watching” which may or may not be true at the time. Go for it!
- Turn up the music in your car and sing it out!
- Take your musical instrument downtown and play for free
Keep moving forward.
Momentum only works as long as you are moving, so try to practice an aspect of being creative every day.
Like a snowball moving downhill, it’s slow to start. But once it gets going it picks up speed and becomes unstoppable. Just like you will!
Journal Your Self Expression
Journaling can be a powerful weapon in your self-expression toolkit. Journaling is great for clearing mind clutter and setting goals. As you set your goals, consider making a Vision Board to visually represent your ideal life.
If you are not sure what to do next, try a brain dump. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write anything you can think of. When you are done look for any gems of wisdom.
Braindumps are great for giving you clarity because many times our true feelings come out when we are under pressure. Stream of consciousness writing helps you solve a problem or get your worries off your chest. It’s a therapeutic and inspirational.
Related Post: Journaling For Beginners
Write down your goals for the next 12 months.
- Where do you want to be in 12 months?
- What will it take to get there?
- How will you feel when you attain your goals?
Describe it in a way that makes you feel excited about what your life will be like when you achieve your objective (more on goal setting below).
Know Your Why
Your ‘why’ is the big reason why you want your goals. If you want to understand yourself better, keep asking yourself ‘why’ when you make plans or set goals.
Sometimes we do things because we’ve been programmed to, like working in the family business. But if that really works against your personality or skills, you will likely be miserable.
Instead of running in the opposite direction, search your heart for it’s true desires. Then keep asking why until you are satisfied with the answer.
Don’t forget Gratitude!
Gratitude is a great way to get inspired for self-expression. Read more below.
Prioritize Tasks and write your to-do’s
Get your tasks out of your head and onto paper or your favorite mobile calendar. Don’t waste precious brain space on soon-to-be-completed tasks; let you phone ping you when it’s time.
It’s freeing when you don’t have to remember everything.
Write out your great ideas
It is said that you have 5 seconds to write a great idea down before it’s forgotten. Get in the habit of grabbing paper and pen when inspiration strikes.
You might just be the creator of “the next big thing”.
How to Keep a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journaling is a popular tool used by coaches and consultants helping people to improve their health and lives. Studies have shown the benefits for mental and physical health.
If you are considering whether this could be something that could help your self-expression, then here are some tips to get you started.
You will need:
You could use a pen or pencil but why not increase the fun and creative aspect of your journaling by adding color and even texture.
I use different colored pens and colored pencils as well as stickers. Express yourself on paper.
You can use a plain notebook or buy a fancy journal. Whatever you use, enjoy it. Make your notebook another item to be grateful for. As a journal and planner addict myself, I adore dressing up my gratitude pages if I feel especially joyful.
If you want, you can try bullet journaling, which really lends itself to this type of creativity.
A quiet place to reflect
By taking time out away from disturbances you are giving yourself space to think, relax and write. You’ll also find that you enjoy the experience of being alone and celebrating those things you are thankful for.
How to journal
Collect your journal and whatever you’ve chosen to write with.
Find somewhere quiet and that you know you won’t be disturbed. Your journaling time should be a time for reflection and celebration free from outside distractions for the best results.
Ensure you are committed to gratitude journaling and that you want to feel happier as well as more grateful as a result. There is no point in just going through the motions of journaling without creating a positive meaningful emotional experience.
When you write, instead of creating a long list of things you are grateful for put some real thought into it.
Take time to write about a particular event and describe in detail why you are thankful for it. Remember to record how you felt and why.
Try to include people you are thankful for as much as you can, not just events. By including specific people and the reasons you are thankful for them you will create a greater emotional impact. It becomes more personal.
Include surprises and unexpected events as these will create a stronger sense of gratitude and more significant emotional impact.
Set yourself a weekly date to write in your gratitude journal. While you could journal every day it may be more beneficial to create a habit of writing in your gratitude journal once a week. This will allow you to plan for it and enjoy it.
There are no right or wrong ways to keep a gratitude journal. Everyone’s will be different.
Set Goals To Boosts Your Success
Setting goals is an important part of life. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know if you’ve arrived?
Setting goals tells you what you want to achieve and why it’s important to you. While not all goals are equal they do all deserve the best chance of achievement.
We all have dreams, ambitions we want to achieve.
It’s in your power whether your dreams remain dreams or whether you make them reality.
I wanted to set goals, but had no idea how. I had never really tried and didn’t know the difference between wishes, dreams and goals.
- Wishes are desires and most people don’t think about them for very long. When you buy a lottery ticket, you may briefly wish to win.
- Dreams are wishes we allow ourselves to ponder longer; a wish not yet fulfilled. You spend time imaging spending your lottery money.
- Goals are creating plans to earn that lottery money by putting systems into place and working to achieve them.
Writing your dream down can help increase the chance of it becoming a reality.
The very act of committing it to paper makes it more real and concrete. You can see it.
Turn dreams into goals by creating a plan…or roadmap…on how to achieve them. The difference between dreams and goals is action. By turning your dream into a goal you are committing to its achievement.
Your goal is the end-point. It is what you want to achieve and how you will know you have been successful.
The key to success is to writing down the steps you will take to get there.
It is important to know why that goal is one you want to achieve. So you need to write down what achieving it will look and feel like to you.
How will your life change? How will you feel when you have achieved your goal?
It is important to make the visualization of your success as descriptive as possible.
By writing it in the present tense as if you are living it now, you create a connection with your sub-conscious mind.
Additionally, writing is a right-brained activity. It is part of your logical and analytical mind.
The act of writing keeps the right-brain occupied and allows the more creative left-brain to be accessed.
This will let you begin to create and visualize the future you want.
Writing your vision down on paper is a record that you can refer to again and again.
It will remind you why you want to achieve the goal you have set and how you will know you have achieved it.
Adding the steps to achieving the goal provides you with a to do list.
You can tick off each step as you complete it and see your progress. This can be very motivating especially if you find yourself struggling.
Acknowledging how much you’ve achieved can strengthen your resolve and provide motivation to continue.
Alternatively, by having a written record of your goal and the steps needed to achieve it you will be able to see if your mind has changed.
Often you’ll find that your actual goal changes. That is a good thing! It means that you are shifting perspective away from past influences.
Tweaking your goals means you are moving into real self-expression.
It is fun to look back on our goals to see how we may have changed direction. Things that we thought were important to us have drifted away as our self expression improves.
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Write them down also, as a record of far you have come!
I hope that I have inspired you to seek out more help from your intuition.
As you actively work on expressing the real you more authentically, don’t be surprised by changes that happen in your life. New people will be more attracted to you, while negative or toxic people leave your life.
Enjoy the positive changes that come from making self expression important to your daily life.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!