It might come as a surprise to you considering I'm posting these very words on a very public blog, but I'm not always so good at expressing myself, especially not in-person. I tend to be thoughtful in what I say, overly-thoughtful at times, because when I say something I want to really mean it.
Not only does it take me a while to figure out what I want to say and how I want to say it, but even after I've said it, I often immediately think of how I could have said it better.
This blog is easy, because I can edit something for days, weeks, and sometimes months (seriously, there are a few screeds I've been editing since last July and they're still not ready to be posted), I can even edit my posts after they've been published, which is good (I enjoyed rethinking my post about Boyhood last week) and bad (I edit my posts after they've been published ad nauseam).
Real life doesn't give you an edit button. Once you say something, it's out there. That permanence bothers me. All permanence bothers me. I'm fluid, I live on change, or at least I live on the hope that things will always change, eventually.
The digital age makes it worse--it encourages us to self-edit and filter our lives to present a certain image.
But putting your thoughts out there, telling people how you feel, and being your honest self are all extremely important aspects of mindfulness. It's the difference between being present and speaking your mind, or worrying about the future so you throttle your voice.
Honesty doesn't mean you have to be an asshole either, spouting off the first thought that comes to mind no matter how hurtful. I'm certainly not advocating against tact. There are plenty wonderfully caring people who are present and true to themselves and honest in what they say. I'd like to think I'm someone who is kind. but a little more reserved. We all fall somewhere in the spectrum.
More and more, I've learned the importance of expressing myself, openly, fully, outwardly. It can be uncomfortable, but it's oh so important.
This blog is an exercise in expressing myself. I've been writing my thoughts down for a while now in private, and that's another way I express myself. In the last few years I've made more of an effort to foster open dialogs with the people I love, from my family to my partner to my friends. At times I've specifically made an effort to stop and think, "why do I enjoy spending time with this person?" I write down the answer and then I tell that friend in-person so they know how much they mean to me.
I've found that the more open I am with others—the more I express myself—the more true and honest expressions I get back. This might be the biggest benefit of it all, because when I'm honest and tell someone about my anger, joy, anxiety, or contentment, they're more likely to be honest to me, tell me how they feel, and we start a dialog. It brings us closer together as friends, as family, as partners in life.
This is my March monthly challenge to you: EXPRESS YOURSELF
Every morning this month, pause and remind yourself to be more honest—let people into your life, think about how you filter yourself on social media, be honest with yourself, and write down how you feel.
That expression, that acknowledgment of who you are, that's how you grow. It helps you process your emotions and become more mindful.
Write something down that's true about yourself. Right now. Pick up the phone, send an email, or punch out a text to a friend to tell them why you love them. Right now. Notice how good it feels to get that off your chest.