Do you ever feel like you have trouble being yourself in social situations? Do you find it difficult to communicate how you truly feel? Is it like there’s a veil between the person you really are and the person you portray in interactions with others?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with the challenge of learning how to express themselves. But with a little practice, you’ll discover that it’s not nearly as difficult as we make it out to be.
4 Ideas for Expressing Yourself More Fully
The English word “express” comes from the Latin word “expressare,” which is formed using two root words: “ex” (out) and “pressare” (press). In other words, it means to press out what’s on the inside.
As one modern philosopher puts it, “[Self expression is] the outward display of who we are. A creative expression of our personality. An invitation to others into our unique personality. A creative inner spirit.”
Keeping this in mind, here are some ideas to help you express yourself more fully:
1. Acknowledge How You Feel
It’s impossible to express yourself if you don’t know how you feel. So this entire process begins with careful honesty about who you are, what you believe, and what you want for yourself.
If you’re having trouble understanding how you feel, try some of the following:
- Go for a walk and be alone with your thoughts. Avoid listening to music or podcasts. Just spend time with yourself. The combination of exercise and lack of distractions will spark clarity.
- Take an hour and journal. You don’t need an agenda for what to write or how to write it – just let the words flow as freely as the thoughts that enter your brain.
- Whenever you feel an emotion – anger, jealousy, stress, sadness, excitement, fear, etc. – ask yourself why? In other words, why am I feeling this way?
Small exercises such as these can help you acknowledge how you feel, which is the first step in expressing your true self to others.
2. Get Creative
Every person is creative at their core. If you don’t believe this, just spend time with a four-year-old. They’re imaginative, excitable, and have an endless stream of unique ideas. Yet somewhere along the way, most people lose touch with this creative spirit. The world tells them that it’s not realistic or acceptable, so they button up and fall in line.
One of the best ways to express yourself is by returning to those creative roots. Find something that you enjoy doing. This could be dancing, painting, writing, building furniture, doing puzzles, planting a garden, etc. (Bonus points if you’re good at it, which allows you to reach something psychologists call a flow state.)
As you engage in more creative activities, you’ll naturally begin to express yourself more freely. The dividing line between who you are at your core and the person you reveal to others will start to disappear.
3. Update Your Wardrobe
People are highly visual. And if you want to make a statement about who you are, there’s no better way to express your beliefs, convictions, and feelings than through your wardrobe.
It’s time to stop worrying about what others want you to wear and begin wearing the items you want to wear. For example, if you’re a supporter of the first and second amendments, wear patriotic t-shirts that communicate those beliefs. If you have a favorite NFL team, wear their hat everywhere you go. It shouldn’t matter what others think. This is about you – not them.
4. Be Vulnerable With Close Friends
Being vulnerable is difficult and scary. It can feel like you’re putting yourself on display and giving others a license to criticize or reject you. But to be a highly-expressive and authentic person, you can’t live life in a defensive mode. You have to open up.
Start by being vulnerable with your closest friends – the people you’ve known and trusted the longest. Tell them something that you’ve previously kept secret and see how they respond. One of two things will happen. (A) You’ll find out that they probably aren’t a real friend, or (B) They’ll listen and support you. When the latter happens, it gives you the confidence to continue being vulnerable moving forward.
Live Life on Your Terms
Self-expression is simply the act of communicating who you are. Some people will gravitate toward it, while others will be more inclined to gravitate toward people who have other personality traits or beliefs – and that’s fine! The goal isn’t to make everyone happy. The objective is to be true to yourself so that you can live life on your own terms.