Athens, Greece is a city of expression. I am grateful to have the opportunity to visit this beautiful place for the first time, and something that has captivated me as much as the Acropolis is the way residents express themselves – through vivid graffiti, art commissioned on the side of buildings and quick spray-painted messages of criticism, encouragement, rebellion, and support. If you like street art, as I do, it makes you feel like a kid in Willy Wonka’s Factory, minus all the health hazards that befell some of those movie characters.
Today I was struck by the thought of how each of us has something to share, but some people feel stuck about how to express themselves. Sometimes we get hung up on being perfect in our communication while other times you may feel no one else cares what you have to say. However, sharing your thoughts, beliefs, artistic renderings, and more is great for your well-being. You are acknowledging what is important to you and valuing your perspective. And it really doesn’t matter what others think if that act of expressing yourself makes you happy, right?
As you know, I’m all about practical tips to jumpstart what your heart desires. So here are 3 ways to heighten your creative expression and translate those inner thoughts to the world at large:
1: Stream of consciousness writing.
Cringing at the notion of a writing assignment, flashing back to how your 11th grade English teach marked all your papers up in red ink? Stream of consciousness writing is a completely different concept. It involves just writing or typing whatever pops into your mind without caring about punctuation, using highfalutin vocabulary words, and the like.
Something that I do, often within the context of journaling, is ask myself a question to answer – like “How do I feel about this situation?” or “What would I like to share about this experience that would benefit others?” Then you just let the thoughts flow out. It might feel awkward at first, if you aren’t someone who writes often. But it feels great to get thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto another medium. Afterwards, you can go back and review the content to determine how you’d like to hone the language and share it with others.
2: Verbalize it.
You might be a speaker – or a singer, poet, or rapper – who prefers to say your piece rather than write it down. Well, the spoken word can be an incredibly powerful way to express yourself. Your words can inspire others, change difficult circumstances and they just might help you get unstuck as well. I think about my friend Mike Bean, who used verbal affirmations when considering a career transformation in the form of leaving a financial planning firm to start his own practice. He set clear goals for his new firm and then said them out loud daily. During the first year, business was up 45 percent over his previous practice and more than tripled five years later. His act of verbal expression improved Mike’s career and life overall.
Remember as a kid how fun it was to create works of art, like finger painting, paper mache, or drawing images outside with sidewalk chalk? Using a different medium now as a grown-up can help you express yourself even more effectively. Back in 2003, I led a workshop on visualization for a group of independent communications professionals. I brought crayons and paper with me, and after talking a bit about how creating a picture in one’s mind’s eye helps manifest something, I had everybody draw what they wanted to attract.
There was something magical about drawing your personal vision. One woman crafted a picture of a house framed by beautiful flower boxes that she dreamed about buying one day, while another sketched an image of a diamond ring, since she wanted her commitment-shy boyfriend to settle down and propose.
Both concepts felt like pipe dreams to them for several reasons, but they created their images anyway. At the end of the workshop, I urged them to post their artwork in a prominent place in their respective living environments to serve as daily reminders of those goals. Fast-forward about eighteen months, and something interesting happened. The first woman hosted a dinner party, which I attended, to show off the new home she’d purchased. It was identical to the one she’d drawn, down to the flower boxes installed in the front windows. And when the second woman arrived, she was thrilled to share the news of her engagement and beautiful new ring. Imagine what would be possible by creating a visual representation of whatever you’d like express.
How do you express yourself creatively? What has the result of that process looked like?