Express yourself the right way
“Express yourself” it's not just a famous song by Madonna. It is also a mantra I tell my clients during our sessions.
Expressing ourselves can be challenging. Expressing ourselves in a positive, loving way - even more challenging.
Let me ask you this:
- Have you ever been annoyed by seeing another human being happy?
- Have you ever envied your friend for being ‘lucky’?
- Have you ever rolled your eyes and ‘talked’ about another woman or man, whose physical appearance was somehow better than yours?
Humans have two basic modus operandi of communicating their emotions to other humans. They are expression and projection.
Expression of your feelings - ‘emotional expression’ - allows you to ‘express’ your feelings while strengthening your emotional self-regulation and getting empathy. The focus of this expression goes to the reason for the feeling.
This method is harder to do. I’ll tell you in a bit why that is.
Projection of your feelings - ‘emotional projection’ is easier and the total opposite of emotional expression. The focus of this expression goes to the person who “caused” the feeling. This method is very often regressive in gaining empathy.
Does that make sense?
So how can you tell if somebody is expressing or projecting?
A good way to recognize the difference is if the ‘affected’ person is using I remarks or YOU remarks.
I bet you know which one is which! You need to keep reading if you want to know the correct answer.
Defensive emotional projection
People can get very defensive nowadays, have you noticed it? You just say something innocent or make a comment, and you start receiving ‘verbal bullets’. It's called defensive emotional projection.
Sigmund Freud mentioned this concept in the 1890s. This concept is described as the process of moving one’s feelings onto another person, animal, or object - never onto himself.
This defensive emotional projection can take place when the person with low self-esteem laughs at the other person with low self-esteem or someone with overweight laughs at a person who also has physical or health problems.
Have you ever experienced it? Laughing or mocking somebody who looked or behaved just a little too much like you?
Or maybe somebody laughed and mocked you and when you saw the person it was almost like looking in the mirror?
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not pointing any fingers at anybody. I’ll let you decide to look deep down within yourself.
If there is something you are not willing to accept within yourself, it is much easier to blame the world, other people, and other situations. It is so much easier to say, that the outside world forces you to be someone, to behave or react in a particular way, or don't behave at all.
Again, please don't get me wrong, I’m not telling you off or pointing at you. But if you feel ‘spoken to’ - maybe it is for a reason.
My point is, that by projecting our problems, feelings, and emotions to the outside world and other people - we are choosing NOT to be responsible for our lives.
Stop blaming by projecting
I understand the appeal of emotional projection. For some of us, it is a way to protect ourselves from disappointment, for some it can be an excuse for ‘slacking’ in life.
Life can be tough, sometimes even cruel. We learn how to ‘survive’ or ‘navigate’ through the s**t storm. Sometimes blaming the world and situations, is the only way we can engage in a particular situation (usually a situation we deem as uncomfortable).
This might bring a sense of inner peace in the sense of “I don't have to worry about that” because you believe you removed this expectation (and fear) from ‘yourself’.
If this is the case, why do you feel unrest deep within you? If you ‘don't have to worry’ - why do you worry so much?
That’s because you are finding yourself spinning in the same situations without any exit sign in sight.
I versus YOU
Ok, let’s get back to how you can recognize whether somebody is expressing or projecting
A person expressing emotion will mostly use statements in which they are the focus person. Something like these:
- “I am feeling stressed because I am unsure about our financial situation.”
- “I am angry because you insulted my family at dinner.”
- “I am frustrated because I don’t feel like I am being heard.”
- “I am sad because I didn't get the promotion I was looking forward to.”
A person projecting an emotion will almost exclusively use statements in which the fingers are pointing to the other person involved, they are projecting onto the focus person. Something like these:
- “You never explain our money situation to me! Are you hiding something?”
- “You were such an ass at dinner! What's wrong with you?”
- “You never listen to anything I say! I guess I'm not worth it to you!”
- “You don’t understand. You don’t even care. It’s fine! Whatever! Doesn’t even bother me anymore!”
Let's be honest. Which one are you using? Expressing or projecting?
Which one is easier? …………. Isn’t that just break your heart?
According to psychologist Michael Brustein, PsyD humans tend to feel more comfortable seeing negative qualities in others - rather than in themselves.
Isn't that just fascinating? How do we constantly sabotage our own self worth?
The most common way to start projecting is when you convince yourself that others talking badly about you, judge you, reject you. You believe that nobody likes you because they do not agree with your opinions. You start to see only the negativity in other people, the world, you start to assume the worst.
I call it “Grinch syndrome”.
The more people around you are happier and more successful, the more you start blaming everything and everybody for your misfortunes. You feel deceived!
Is this true though? Is the world deceiving you? Or are you deceiving yourself?
I’ll let YOU answer this question.
Start expressing yourself
Look at some difficult situations you are facing in your life.
Doesn’t everyone have such situations?
Don’t we all have moments where we feel like dark clouds are gathered above our heads and everything is going to s**t? So what's the difference between your strom and theirs?
- How did they solve their situation?
- What were they feeling?
- How did they express it?
I find these questions very exciting because we constantly evaluate (or judge) ourselves. We do this whether we are aware of it - or not.
It starts in the morning when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. We are judging our ‘out of bed hair’, wrinkles, dark circles, enlarged pores….
There are plenty of ways we can fool ourselves. There are a lot of thoughts running through our minds at a speed of light that keep us projecting and blaming.
When we walk out into the world with these negative thoughts and feelings, every reminder of us “not being perfect”, set into motion a negative spiral we keep spinning in. It will become our belief. We start to believe we are not worth it, nor deserving of anything. We start to protect ourselves by defensive emotional projection.
Don't go for second best, baby - express yourself! - Madonna
Express yourselves, then evaluate yourself and grow! - Edina
Evaluation of yourself doesn't mean you are criticizing yourself. Not in the negative meaning we sometimes tie to this word.
I'm not saying that self-criticism isn't important and that we should dismiss anything critic-y.
I’m teaching my clients how to handle criticism, judgment, or doubts effectively and with a positive tone.
When you accept yourself as you are, with the ‘good, bad and the ugly’ - you will react to any judgment or criticism with a healthy attitude of “I respect your opinion” without getting upset, or without letting it diminish your self-love and self-worth.
Bottom line These negative external influences, criticisms, judgments - they will always be there.
But they can ‘cut deep’ only if you allow them.
I want to tell you - You are an amazing, real, and pure human being!
And you will be - as long as you are in a loving relationship with yourself, love who you are and where you came from.
I want you to look into the mirror and love the person looking and smiling back at you.
I want to guide you on your journey to self-acceptance and self-love. I want to show you the power of embracing and accepting yourself the way you are.
I want to help you stop being a Grinch and let your heart grow ‘three sizes’.
I want you to understand and see how you are harming yourself on a daily basis, by projecting (and blaming).
When you decide it's time to stop being angry, frustrated, and annoyed at the world - I’ll be here waiting to show you how to express yourself and color the world your way!
It’s time to create your biggest masterpiece - YOU.