The art of self-expression: 8 ways to embrace your creativity and individuality

Self-expression is so important to not only the relationships we have with others but also with ourselves.

It’s how we communicate what’s inside — our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.

The better we get at it, the more understood we feel and the easier it is to live a life that stays true to who we really are.

Self-expression comes in many shapes and forms. But it all comes down to how and what we share with the outside world.

Luckily there are some practical tools we can turn to in order to nurture our individuality and creativity.

This article will explore them, so let’s dive in.

1) Play around with your wardrobe and explore new styles

“I like it, but I’m not sure if it’s me.”

Many of us when we’re trying on clothes are more subconscious than we may realize.

It might not seem like a big deal, but the clothing we choose to wear is a representation of part of ourselves.

It can boost us or bring us down. Whether we like it or not, people will judge us for it. So we may as well wear the things we love.

When we choose a particular style or item of clothing for our own self-expression it can be incredibly empowering and even freeing.

Become mindful of when you avoid certain clothes you like because you are worried that you “can’t pull it off” or are too unsure “what others may think”.

You never know until you try something, so have some fun and play around with your image.

You may just discover one that feels far more of a true reflection of you.

You don’t need to be on-trend or in style, just as long as you like it, that’s all that matters.

2) Say what you really think

Public speaking can be a great way to discover or strengthen your unique voice.

That’s because, for most of us, public speaking demands that we push our comfort zone. It puts our own voice on a platform for others to hear.

You may decide to sign up for a debate team or give a talk on something.

For example, in my city, there are dedicated groups offering discussions where regular people (not necessarily experts) share information on a certain topic they are interested in.

It’s a bit like mini Ted Talks.

If that feels a step too far for now, then just learning to speak up for yourself is incredibly valuable.

It can be as simple as committing to sharing your own views, opinions, and ideas more in group settings.

If usually you would keep quiet, try offering your thoughts up to friends, family or colleagues.

Contribution is a way of self-expression.

But this way of embracing your creativity and individuality, like so many others, will require some inner confidence and even risk-taking.

That’s why the next thing on our list is so important to master…

3) Practice vulnerability

There’s no getting around it, self-expression is vulnerable. It demands that we reveal parts of our true selves to the world.

That can feel scary.

So the better you get at vulnerability, the easier you may find it.

There is no authenticity without vulnerability.

Until we feel comfortable with the thought of people seeing “the real us”, we will always hide behind masks. Sadly this can be incredibly isolating and lonely.

If we want healthy relationships, we need to get better at laying ourselves bare.

As well as telling people what you really think, other ways of strengthening your vulnerability can include:

  • Being kind to yourself, showing self-compassion and self-acceptance
  • Try to drop perfectionist tendencies
  • Let people know your preferences, needs, and wants.
  • Don’t focus on what people think of you, focus on staying true to your values and beliefs
  • Try to stay in the moment rather than dwell on the past or future
  • Rehearse difficult conversations in front of the mirror
  • Take responsibility for your own thoughts rather than trying to put them on others

The more you get to know yourself, the more you may be confronted with some confusing contradictions. But it’s important to embrace these things about ourselves.

4) Accept your contradictions

We love to categorize the world around us.

It can help us to create order in perceived chaos. But unfortunately, life isn’t as binary as we would try to make it.

Contradiction is all around us. Contrasting truths can simultaneously exist together. That goes for inside you too.

You are more than one thing at once, and that’s ok. Self-expression becomes easier when you allow this messy self.

We are all complex. You aren’t this OR that. You can be both.

For the same reasons, neither should you seek to narrowly define yourself. Stay as open as possible to new versions of yourself emerging.

Who you are is not static, it is something you are responsible for constantly creating.

When you insist on seeing yourself in a narrowly defined light you are usually closing yourself off to:

  • Unexplored talents, gifts, passions, and interests
  • New experiences
  • New emotions
  • New opportunities

With that in mind, whenever we seek to broaden our self-expression, we should try to look to new things.

5) Seek out new hobbies, interests, and experiences

Creativity lurks in so many places that we don’t always expect. For years I assumed I wasn’t creative because I am not a musician or an artist.

I narrowly defined what I believed it meant to be creative.

But we are all creative, it is in our very nature. Because at its root, creativity is simply inventiveness and expressiveness.

It can be found in so many pursuits that you may well have overlooked:

  • Gardening
  • Cooking and baking
  • Photography
  • Dancing
  • Crafts
  • Origami,
  • Magic
  • Cosplay
  • Scrapbooking
  • Reading
  • Poetry
  • Computer coding
  • Singing

The list really is endless.

But a great way to get those creative juices flowing and find new ways to express yourself is simply trying new things.

Rather than have defined expectations of yourself allow yourself to be playful and curious.

This childlike approach can help to connect you with parts of yourself you never knew existed.

6) Use writing to explore and express your feelings and thoughts

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Growing up I never kept a diary. I had a preconceived image that it was just a boring log of uninteresting things you did that day.

I even wondered whether keeping a book all about yourself was a bit conceited. Boy was I wrong!

As an adult, journalling has become the most useful self-help tool I have. Journaling is fantastic for self-expression and self-exploration.

It allows us to consider parts of ourselves that we cannot necessarily access through thinking alone.

Experts believe the key to its success is having it all laid out in black and white in front of us. This helps us to see things differently.

It’s been scientifically proven to have a variety of mental and physical benefits. You can use it in a variety of ways:

  • To lay out your dreams, ambitions, and goals
  • To understand and express your deepest emotions
  • To count your blessings and look for the good things in your life
  • To learn more about yourself and the way you think (and why)
  • To discover what is most important to you
  • To practice self-acceptance

You can try writing a daily journal, writing letters to people, or answering journal questions.

Journalling and writing help to combine awareness and communication — both of which are vital aspects of self-expression.

7) Become more mindful of expression through your body

We’re constantly sending out signals to others, often subconsciously.

Your body language reveals so much about what you may be thinking or feeling to others. But it can also be a vehicle to get to know yourself more deeply too.

Pay attention to your body. Notice things.

For example, How do you stand? Are your shoulders slouched or pressed back? Are your arms crossed or your chest exposed?

Does it tell you things about how you are feeling?

Can you sense any tension in your body? How does it feel and where does it manifest itself?

Aim to create a better connection between your body and your mind.

We all too often overlook our bodies, yet they’re an important part of self-expression.

You might try:

  • Doing body scans throughout the day to “check-in” on how your body feels
  • Breathwork
  • Exploring your sensuality and sexuality within the body
  • Using dance and movement as a way of letting out emotions

8) Learn to talk about your feelings

For some people, opening up seems to come more naturally. For others, there is a tendency to bottle up their feelings.

But the truth is that however well you deal with them, emotions can be tricky things for all of us to navigate.

Communication is a learned behavior and so it’s something we can all get better at it.

Finding the right words and being able to use them is clearly important to our self-expression.

Some tips for us to feel more at ease can include:

  • Don’t try to deny your feelings, accept whatever they are and acknowledge them
  • Try to recognize the difference between emotions and thoughts
  • Don’t just focus on expressing negative feelings, learn to vocalize happy ones too
  • Choose the right place and time to talk, as well as someone you trust
  • Let go of any specific desired outcome or response and focus instead on being honest
  • Cut yourself some slack and know it’s not about being perfect, it’s about trying to be more expressive
  • Practice — push yourself to try and know that as you do, it will feel easier

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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