The Power of self-expression

Have you ever noticed on the tube or sitting on a train, that people don’t smile or even talk to each other.  You could be sitting next to the inventor of the next revolutionary car, phone or cancer cure and you wouldn’t know it. 

self-expression opens doors to endless possibilities 

Have you ever noticed on the tube or sitting on a train, that people don’t smile or even talk to each other.  You could be sitting next to the inventor of the next revolutionary car, phone or cancer cure and you wouldn’t know it. 

Nowadays people seem to spend more time on their phone than they do having conversations.  They spend more time putting their eyes down to avoid catching eye contact than they do to really look at people to see who they really are.  They spend more time not being self-expressed in fear of something that may or may not happen in the future.

Self-expression is: the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance.

I recently went to New York to see my family and then I took a flight to Seattle for business.  On the flight out, an older Chinese woman, her daughter and grandchild walked to the back of the plane where I was sitting.  It seemed that the mother had a seat allocated to her 3 seats behind mine, away from her daughter and grandchild.

The older woman went to her allocated seat and asked the passenger who was sitting beside her, if she wouldn’t mind swapping seats, so she could sit with her daughter and grandchild.  The woman said “No,” that she didn’t want to have a window seat.  The older woman although sad she couldn’t sit with her family, sat down and was quiet for the rest of the journey. 

As I watched this scenario, I thought “that is a shame” and pondered about sacrificing our needs for other’s needs.  Then feeling tired from travelling, I closed my eyes for the rest of the journey.

My seven days in Seattle was very productive.  I met a lot of amazing women at a conference and made some really great connections and hopefully friends

On my return journey from Seattle back to New York, I was seated next to a gentile looking lady.  She was reading a travel book to Brazil.  I said hello and commented that Brazil was a fabulous country and enquired if she was going there.  The lady’s name was Naayma and she began to tell me that she was on the way to New York to spend time with some friends and then was to meet her husband in Brazil.  There they would take a vacation, exploring the wonders of the country.

As the conversation progressed, Naayma asked me what I did.  I told her in a nutshell, I help to develop the human potential through keynotes and workshops on communication and mindset.  Naayma was like “wow,” that sounds amazing.  I had to nod that yes, I felt humbled and blessed to be able to say that was my mission in life.

During our 3 hour flight, Naayma spoke about areas in her life where she wasn’t being self-expressed.  Particularly with her mother-in-law and her husband.  I asked her poignant questions such as “what is that like for you?” and “how is that impacting your life?” It felt like that was the first time somebody had ever asked her those questions or that she hadn’t even asked herself them. 

Naayma said that generally life was great but at times she couldn’t truly be herself and wanted to say things to her mother-in-law but felt scared to be self-expressed, in fear of upsetting her, as she really cared for her.  She said that she didn’t feel totally free to just be herself, as there were always things holding her back.

The impact on her life in not being self-expressed, meant that her relationship with her mother-in-law was fraught at times and not enjoyable, especially when travelling together, as she was very controlling and difficult.  She said that she loved her husband deeply but felt it difficult to express that to him, by showing physical affection, such as hugs and touching.

We went deeper and started to look into why she wasn’t self-expressed and what was the first time she can remember when she stopped being that.  Naayma very quickly found a time in her childhood where she was made to be silent over a family issue and ordered to never speak about it.  This, along with growing up in Cambodia where being secretive was a way of life.  Many people lived in fear that they could be taken away at any time by government officials and never seen again

The effects of things that happened in her childhood were still affecting her today and lack of self-expression were physically eating her up inside.

I asked her “what is missing about how you are being in those areas of your life?”  She said that she wasn’t being courageous, open, self-expressed and honest. 

“What would that look like for you, if you were those things?”  Naayma began to smile, as I could see she was envisioning a life where she was fully self-expressed.  To perhaps just grab her husband, hug him, kiss him passionately and tell him how much she love and appreciated him.  Or having a great relationship with her mother-in-law that was open and honest.

The person who would have those kind of relationships would be being, Courageous, Self-Expressed, Open and Honest. 

When Naayma was open to the impact that not being this way was having on her life, she was ready to embrace a new way of being.  A way of being that was powerful and full of possibilities.

Why stick with things as they are?  Why just be happy with things being fine?  Why not live a life of full power, self-expression, freedom and peace of mind?

We set the task that when she met her husband, she was going to run up to him and give him a huge hug and kiss (something she rarely did) and begin to be more self-expressed.  It’s a journey.

Several days later, I spoke to Naayma via whatsapp and she said that she was able to be more self-expressed with her husband, followed by a big smiley face.  It was a great start.

Now, the funny thing about that flight was that Naayma explained to me that she was originally seated in the seats behind.  A mother had wanted to sit with her daughter and asked her if she wouldn’t mind swapping seats.  Naayma having a big heart, obliged and ended up sitting next to me.

Coincidence, I think not.

I shared the story of the Chinese woman on my outbound flight and now on the flight back the same thing had happened.  Just this time, because Naayma had been open to listen to her instinct and to give without wanting to receive, had sat next to me.

In doing so, I was able to show her how powerful self-expression is in life.

I could have chosen like many people on the tube, to have more relationship with my phone than the person sitting next to me.  I could have chosen to avert eyes the whole journey, or have been scared to be self-expressed and ask about the travel book.  Just by speaking to her, opened up this channel of change in both our lives. 

In sitting next to each other, we saw that not being self-expressed was holding her back from really being connected and related to people.  Her way of being, instilled from childhood was affecting her life still and robbing her of freedom, peace of mind and self-expression.

Exchange is always reciprocal.  I also received something magical from Naayma.  The beginnings of a lovely friendship; somebody to take me around Saudi Arabia when I visit and the acknowledgment that helping women to be self-expressed through the power of communication, is a mission worth having.

So, I encourage you all to always be open, kind, generous and self-expressed. 

Open = so that life can guide you to great people, opportunities and experiences

Kind = so that as you give of yourself, others and life can give back to you

Self-expressed = so that through the power of your words you can help others, build strong relationships and create a magnificent future for yourself and others.