Ask the experts: How can I feel more comfortable expressing myself?

When it comes to building confidence, there are many factors to consider. One of those factors is self-expression, feeling happy with who we are and what we have to say. If this is something you struggle with, you’re not alone.

Here, wellness and personal development coach Emma Humphrey tells us more about self-expression and how we can get more comfortable in our own skin. 

How to feel more comfortable expressing yourself

Self-expression seems to come naturally for some, but less so for others. Can you tell us what may hold us back from expressing ourselves?

Wholehearted self-expression is synonymous with living authentically; feeling aligned with the words we speak, our opinions, our clothes and how we show up in the world. For people who find self-expression challenging, more time will be spent showing up to impress or to people please; doing the things we think we ‘should’ be doing, rather than what our heart really desires.

Low self-esteem can hold us back as we are less self-accepting and don’t believe we are good at many things worth showing to the world. Our upbringings will have had a big influence; if your parents/caregivers gave you messages about being ‘too loud’ or ‘too quiet’, you may still hold those limiting beliefs. Over time, we layer these messages to create a box we feel unable to step outside of. Similarly, if you have experienced previous rejections in life you may have a fear of judgement holding you back.

When it comes to confidence and self-expression, self-acceptance can often be the first step. Do you have any tips to help with self-acceptance?

Self-acceptance can be hard, so it’s crucial to approach it with self-compassion; talking to yourself like you would to a friend. Accept that it’s not a quick and linear journey, particularly if you have historically been very unaccepting of yourself.

Writing a love letter to yourself might sound like an odd and difficult thing to do, but spending 10 minutes to set out all the things you are proud of and the attributes you admire is a great place to start and will give you something to reflect on and add to.

If you have negative self-talk, recognise that your thoughts are not facts, just stories we are telling ourselves. You can take those thoughts to ‘court’ and ask, ‘what evidence do I have to support this belief?’ and ‘how old is that evidence?’. You can choose to re-write your narrative, replacing negative thoughts by practising positive affirmations and gratitude.

Are there any tools or techniques that can help us get more comfortable expressing ourselves?

Begin expressing yourself openly and honestly to yourself. A daily journal can help explore your feelings and the things most important to you.

Take that first step outside of your comfort zone and ask yourself ‘what one thing could I do today to live 5% more authentically?’ Incremental steps will help you to feel safe.

Notice what gives you energy and do more of it; write a list of all the people you see and the things you do regularly. Consider which ones fill your cup and which ones drain you? For those that drain you, how can you create distance and start making ‘no’ a comfortable part of your vocabulary?

Think back to yourself as a child – what did you love to do? Rediscover this and try it to see how it makes you feel. Don’t let the safety of what you’re good at now keep you restricted.  

How can a coach help with self-expression and confidence?

A coach provides a safe, non-judgemental space for you to take the time to explore all the elements that underpin your self-expression and confidence. This may be working together through a values elicitation exercise to realise areas in which you do not feel aligned with your true self.

A coach can support you to untangle your thoughts, define where you want to get to and set goals around your self-expression and confidence that are in line with your personal motivations.

Through open, honest and structured conversation, a coach can empower you to identify and reframe negative narratives that hold you back, as well as supporting you with a range of tools and techniques to improve your confidence and self-expression.

A coach will walk by your side and support you to get from where you are now, to where you want to be, supporting you to overcome obstacles along the way.

Emma’s top tips for self-expression and confidence:

  1. Recognise that we all have a light inside of us that wants to be seen, an innate sense of who we are and what we love. The world needs you and your beautiful self-expression, just as you are. You have so much to give the world. 
  2. Self-expression and confidence feel more difficult when you’re scared of making a mistake. Empower yourself by being prepared to be vulnerable and show up as you are, a perfectly imperfect human. 
  3. Accept that we are meant to grow and change – how you want to express yourself will change time and time again, and that’s okay. You do not have to fit in any boxes and you get to choose how you show up in this world and pursue the things you want in the way that you want.

This article was originally published in Happiful Magazine (Issue 62 2022). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app.

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Senior Writer for Life Coach Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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