Ironically… as I begin to write this article my mind wonders back and forth between my actual thoughts and the thoughts I think I should put down because I deem them to be more acceptable or popular! So, as is often the case writing this also serves me, in that I will be forced to dissect and understand my own self-expression. How much of ME that the world sees is authentic and how much is tailored, sensored and adjusted to be something more comfortable for the rest of the world to hear?
In each day of our lives we go through an assortment of self-expression. From the obvious such as conversation, fashion choices, Facebook posts and arguments to the less considered such as what we choose to do for a living, our body language, the subtle ways in which we form our sentences and the music we choose. The ways in which we interact with the world are endless. We have a sizeable need as human beings to see and be seen, to interact and to be understood. So how good are we at this and how aware are we of the importance of this substantial part of our experience?
"We are becoming walking PR experts at publicising a version of our lives that we want the world to see."
Since this has shifted into my awareness I have noticed, to my surprise, that firstly I am completely unaware of what I put out there and how. I do not prioritise honest self-expression as one of my major needs. Secondly most of the time when I think I am expressing myself honestly I am in fact not….not even close! With the burst of social media, iPhones and apps we have more opportunities to express ourselves than ever before but rather than using that stage to fulfil our need to be heard and understood, we have become so scared of rejection that many of us express a version of ourselves that is not the real us. We are becoming walking PR experts at publicising a version of our lives that we want the world to see. Its self-promotion and it feels good. This is not something that was born when Facebook arrived; we have been editing our words, clothes, opinions and choices to fit in with those around us for lifetimes.
What Authentic expression is not…
Posting a photo to Instagram captioned “Chilling by the pool at our resort, life is good #happyholidays” when in fact you have spent the past hour struggling to switch off and relax and have checked your FB newsfeed roughly every 2 mins……. (#youbigfoney)
Laughing at a joke you find offensive
Agreeing with your bosses opinion because you don’t want to upset him.
Picking an outfit for date based on what you think he/she would like or an image of yourself you want to portray
Choosing a career to gain a parents approval.
Doing things for your family when you would actually like some you time.
It can be down right scary to reveal our true selves to the world, whether that be to strangers, existing friends and family or on a larger stage to many. Let’s get one thing straight, no matter how good we are at it, it scares all of us! But whether we like it or not, every time we negate our need to express our truth we suffer on some level. The good news is that every time we do express our truth it feels fantastic. This brings me to my next point….
How do we know if we are being truthful in our expression?
Nice and simple this one. Honest expression of our truth feels great; when we stifle it and get in the way it feels horrible. As with any personal development or growth we must first become aware of the problem, we must become The Watcher. This means that instead of unconsciously moving through life and reacting without awareness to our world, we become aware of and watch our reactions, thoughts and feelings. Put simply you need to understand yourself and how you operate in this world if you are going to express yourself in and honest and more fulfilling way. When you get to know your own thoughts and fears, they will no longer be in the driving seat, you will.
Being loved and accepted is of paramount importance to us so it’s hardly surprising that we hide who we really are and become who we aren’t. We tend to accommodate others rather than be our true self. Fear of anger, criticism, rejection, or abuse from others are our motivation to become more acceptable and likeable. Good call, in my opinion! A completely logical and intelligent decision and one that we all make. We rely on the people in our lives for friendship, love, food and shelter (in our formative years) and physical and emotional nourishment. We need them to like us.
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up. - Pablo Picasso"
Then one day we become aware that we’re not happy and we don’t feel fulfilled, we are lacking in true honest connection and we feel unheard and lonely, our life doesn't reflect who we are. Its time for change we have a decision to make. We can carry on playing it safe or we can open up to the opportunity of a more authentic existence….
Padma Healing, Leigh on Sea, Essex