One of the most damaging things we can do when struggling with addictions and mental health issues is keep our emotions locked away within us. Suppressing our thoughts and feelings can be especially harmful to our mental, emotional and physical health. We can increase our anxiety and stress levels, contribute to our depression, and feed our cycles of addiction. Learning how to express ourselves is so important for the recovery process. Self-expression allows us to feel and communicate our emotions in healthy ways.
When we suppress our emotions, entire parts of who we are, we cause ourselves more sadness and despair. We might build up frustration, bitterness and resentment at not being able to be vocal about our pain. We might be angry with ourselves for allowing our pain to fester within us without letting it see the light of our acceptance. Self-expression asks that we start to dismantle whatever has been holding us back from being our true, authentic selves.
Sometimes it is our fear that keeps us from expressing ourselves. We might have learned to use silence and suppression as coping mechanisms to protect ourselves. We fear what other people will think and say. We’re afraid of being perceived poorly, of being judged, criticized and rejected. Self-expression, though, is for us and our healing, not for other people and their opinions of us. It is about growing stronger in our own self-acceptance. It is about acknowledging our voice and knowing we have something important to say. We have within us reserves of deep knowledge and wisdom that can serve us and help others, when we allow them to surface and when we allow ourselves to express them.
Finding our voice is an important part of finding ourselves. It takes tremendous courage. When we are suffering, we feel taken over by sadness which we perceive as weakness. Our pain is a source of strength and resilience, though, when we allow ourselves to see it that way. It is here to strengthen and empower us. Know that your pain is here to teach and serve you, not destroy you.
Encourage yourself to take small steps towards self-expression. Maybe you want to try journaling, or writing a poem, story or song. Start talking to yourself out loud, in the mirror. Become comfortable with your own voice and self-expression. Maybe you want to go to a local art show, performance or open-mic and be inspired by the other people expressing themselves creatively. Let them inspire you to do the same whenever you feel ready.
We offer safe spaces to express yourself. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our treatment programs.