Self expression is one of the pieces that is most often left out of anxiety relief programs.
Think about it. And you'll see.
When I was in grad school to be a psychotherapist participation was a REQUIREMENT. I knew I had to raise my hand and speak up once in every class or my grades would be negatively effected.
I set a goal for myself. I would speak in every class. Every time.
This is a really typical technique for working with anxiety called exposure therapy. Sometime I would really be fine. Sometimes the room would grow and shrink, I would shake, sweat and even cry from the physical symptoms of fear. I look back on myself at that time so lovingly.
My nervous system was so whacked out by my choice, but my will to thrive was SO STRONG.
You don't have to go through this like I did.
What I noticed was the following process:
1) I would have something to say or ask arise in my consciousness
2) I would feel my heart start to beat harder and sweat start to pool in my palms. I would start to be nauseous.
3) I would sit on my impulse to share.
4) I would get increasingly physically uncomfortable.
5) I would beat myself up for not sharing and for being anxious.
6) I would raise my hand and say the thing.
7) I would go over the thing in my head a million times after the fact trying to asses if I was okay.
This insanity was HELL for me. It was absolutely awful. But, it was how I discovered that authentic and satisfying self expression is an enormous part of living an anxiety free life.
I started my "Letters to an Ex-boyfriend" series after going through a bad breakup. All I wanted to do was get through to him so he could see and understand the pain I was going through. It was about as satisfying as hurling myself repeatedly into a brick wall. It didn't work. At all.
It was then that I sat down and began to write.
What I wanted was to share myself. I wanted to be seen as me in all my mess and wisdom, I wanted to transmute my pain into connection, belonging and growth. And this is exactly what happened.
It wasn't satisfying to share with him. It was incredibly satisfying to share with the world. I got more comments on my posts, more messages in my inbox, more communication about topics that were interesting and really mattered to me like self love, body shaming, anxiety soothing, and more. I got more phone calls, more opportunities to connect with people who could really see my wisdom that EVER before.
It felt like a miracle.
Weeks later an anxious but highly creative and successful friend went through a breakup and he asked me for advice knowing I had recently had my heart to the fire.
I shared with him my break through, about finding a way to express himself that would ACTUALLY be SATISFYING for him. He tried it out and it WORKED!!!!
For me it's not enough to just create my songs, or write. I want to share it. Then I want to talk about it with people. I want to share resources, and chew on ideas.
What would satisfying expression look like to you? Share below. Feel free to read through the "Letters to an Ex-boyfriend" series. It is a beautiful work of art full of gems on self love and actualization. It is a how to teaching on taking our most painful moments and transforming them into creative growth.
Compassion + Integrity = Powerful Leadership - What's your vision for the world?