The Key to Fearless Self Expression
How to take the pressure off of sharing your thoughts and beliefs
Janet M Early
I could be wrong.
Those four words are some of the most humbling, but also the most liberating. They’re also keys to finding freedom in your personal expression. The ability to acknowledge that your opinions might be imperfect is like a superpower. And it makes you less afraid to share your thoughts with others.
By adhering to the concept of: This is what I think based on what I’ve experienced, but I could be wrong; you reduce the pressure of feeling like you need to be right before you voice a belief. It’s OK to share thoughts that are works in progress.
In the age of so much public sharing, there’s this pressure we all feel to have to have our ideas fully formed before we speak them. And that we must voice them with certainty, even when we’re not certain.
By admitting that you have an idea but not necessarily all the answers, you become more fearless in your self-expression. When more people are open to having their opinions changed through the course of discussion, education, or experience, it opens the door for real, meaningful exchanges.
Fear of judgment is a big speed bump on the road to self expression.
Discussions that have the power to shape lives or inspire could be missed if you are afraid to look unintelligent or uneducated in front of other people. Usually, those fears are all in your head anyway. And oftentimes, you’re not the only person in the room feeling them.
Fear of judgment from others can be a powerful adversary that discourages you from sharing your perspective. Conversely, when you’re open to being wrong, you lower the barrier to personal expression and open yourself up to all kinds of potential for growth.
What if we changed the way in which many of us approach discussions? Instead of wanting to be right, what if our main goal was to become more informed? This simple shift in perspective will make you less intimidated to publicly ask questions or voice your thoughts. When you embrace the vulnerability inherent in this kind of expression, you choose growth over ego.
Interestingly, when you admit you may be wrong, it often makes others more open to admit that they could be wrong, too, and also makes them more open to voicing their own beliefs.
From this change in attitudes, meaningful discussion is born, impactful change becomes more possible, and each person gets the opportunity to further shape and refine their own perspectives. Conversely, when people enter a debate with each side wanting to be right, room for growth and productivity is blocked.
Too often, people prioritize wanting to be right over wanting to enrich their perspectives.
By admitting that you don’t have all the answers, you acknowledge the transience of beliefs and the malleability of your perspective over the course of your lifetime. What might happen if you fully accepted the flowing nature of your beliefs instead of clinging to them like fixed ways of thinking? Perhaps your beliefs would stay the same; maybe they would change.
At least (and most importantly), you would voice them.
Personal expression accomplishes a few incredible feats:
- Gives you an opportunity to educate or inspire others
- Motivates others to share their own beliefs
- Provides you with an opportunity to further develop your own perspective
Thoughts, ideas, and even entire perspectives will morph as you continue to live, experience, and communicate with others. If you hold too tightly onto a particular belief, you might rob yourself of opportunities for innovation or new ways of thinking or living. By keeping an open mind, you open yourself to all kinds of room for growth.
“We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Throughout your life, your views will change — even on subjects where you once felt so certain.
Change is the nature of life, externally and internally. You are continually shaped by the experiences that you have, molded by the ebbs and flows of your own journey. The things you do, the people you meet, the places you go — each have a hand in crafting your identity. In a way, you are simply the product of all that you experience.
With that idea in mind, how can you hold so tightly onto a thought once you accept that all is capable of change? Imagine all the wisdom you might miss out on by gripping beliefs you already have, instead of remaining open to other possibilities.
Why do we prioritize certainty over growth?
It’s breathtaking the efforts people will go to in order to reduce uncertainty in their lives. It’s ironic, because uncertainty is inherent in living. It’s one of the only guarantees in life, along with change.
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Once you allow yourself to accept uncertainty, you open up doors to new ways of thinking. When you open yourself to the possibility that there may be another way to look at something, you pave new roads by which you can expand and refine your own identity.
Picture a wild plant that naturally grows towards the sun. Imagine if the sun represented all possibility. By blocking yourself off from it, it’s like you’re putting yourself in the shade, restricting yourself from opportunities to grow. When a plant can’t reach the sun, it ultimately withers and shrinks.
Similarly, shutting yourself off to possibility by wanting to be right can inhibit your ability to grow into all that you could be. Willingly, you let yourself stay the same or, worse, shrink.
If you persevere instead and try to move towards the sun despite the obstacles before you, you can become taller, stronger, and ultimately capable of seeing the world from a higher perspective. By doing so, you open up room for meaningful conversations, growth, and understanding.
It’s a small price to pay for admitting the humbling concept to yourself: I could be wrong.
This article was originally published by Janet early on medium.
Janet M Early
Janet M Early is a writer and health coach based in Los Angeles, who covers topics such as health, business, culture, self-improvement, and mental health. She has previously worked as an analyst for major media companies, including Disney and NBC-Universal. Learn more at www.janetmearly.com