Try These 8 Tools for Healthy Self Expression
If you have been following my work since the beginning, you know that I used to be pretty angry. (Remember all those Easter eggs I broke in grade school?) I spent years trying to party my way to wellness—aka: trying to do the impossible—drinking, using drugs, doing figurative back flips out of windows, throwing emotional hand grenades, and flipping off the world in general.
But when it comes expressing myself through anger and numbing pain with destructive behaviors, I’m hardly alone.
In fact, adults in the United States today are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated in history. This isn’t a coincidence. A combination of socially conditioned thoughts like: I am not good enough combined with a complete lack of education in emotional intelligence got us here.
But it’s up to us—to you—to fix it.
At some point, the idea that thoughts and emotions are things that just happen to each of us became a pervasive one. So many people believe that their emotions are out of their control—to either muscle through them or to medicate them, one way or another. But just like you can learn to choose your thoughts and harness the power of your emotions, you can choose how you express your emotions [https://positivepsychology.com/self-expression/] as well. (And breaking a third grades’ class-worth of Easter eggs need not be it.)
As a culture, we have stigmatized pain and struggle to such a degree in our culture that few people feel safe enough or learn the skills to express their experience in healthy ways. We are taught that pain is horrible, embarrassing, and shameful and that we should do everything in our power to avoid it. We have been so conditioned to believe that pain is unacceptable that instead of staring it in the face, we act out, living in a place of repressed rage and running off to the mall or the bar—entirely avoidant and asleep.
But the truth is, by learning to lean into our discomfort and suffering, we begin to connect with ourselves on a deeper level and start to heal.
Once you begin to understand how your thought-led emotions inform and guide your behavior, you can start to examine how you want to express them.
While self-expression might be a common way of dealing with human emotions, healthy and healing self-expression is far less common. If you don’t know how to express yourself in healthy and productive ways, chances are it wasn’t taught or modeled to you.
For many of us, healthy self-expression is something that we must teach ourselves.
Check out these eight tools for healthy self-expression, to try the next time you find yourself feeling all the feels.
1. Turn off the noises in your head. Mute the negative self-talk, fear, doubt, and confusion. Ask: Would I speak to someone I love the way I talk to myself?
2. Set boundaries for your emotions and needs. Stand for your “yes” and stand in your “no.”
3. Realize when the story you’re telling is not your story. Claim ownership and authorship of your own life story, not someone else’s or what that has simply been taught to you but isn’t true for you.
4. Do what brings you joy. Discover what will help you get your happy back. It’s okay to start small! Don’t forget, it’s okay to have a sense of humor and everyone needs a little fun in their life!
5. Remember that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are always choices. No one is to blame for your circumstances. You can choose how to create your reality. Say goodbye to being a victim.
6. Understand “commas” vs. “periods”. Commas represent a pause, a breath, the unknown, or the uncertain, where all things new are created. A period denotes the end. Never place a period where a comma should be.
7. Express yourself in a way that feels healing. Self-expression is not just for impressing your point of view on others, or to convince people to do/think/believe what you want them to. Imposing your thoughts and beliefs on others is your ego trying to get what it wants—and your ego never considers what is in the best and highest good for everyone involved.
8. Get creative! Write, paint, dance, scrapbook, journal, knit, cook, throw pots, crochet—whatever it is that raises your consciousness and allows you to express yourself in a productive, healing way! Creativity is the result of having already raised your consciousness—it involves participation and appreciation, which creates connections. Connection, after all, is the highest outcome of self-expression.
Remember: This work has ebbs and flows, highs and lows. You won’t necessarily express yourself in the healthiest and most productive way the first (or the hundredth) time—especially if healthy self-expression isn’t your habit. But you always have the present moment to return to, in which to begin again. Through mindfulness, you will discover the present moment continuously renews itself over and over until eternity—giving you endless opportunities to self-express in new, innovative, creative, and healing ways.
Want to learn more? There’s a book for that! Click here to take the first step towards greater awakening, awareness, self-love and personal transformation.
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