Do You Have the Freedom to Openly Express Yourself?

Many people might automatically say yes to the above question, without really thinking through whether the blocks to being able to openly express yourself are either internal or external or both.

It is also not necessarily a question that many people will consciously ask themselves, as people often express themselves without thinking, or hold back from what they are saying without any sort of conscious control.

Having the freedom to say what you want is often thought of in either quite a legalistic or a social context, as being the freedom to say what you think, without either being litigated or castigated because of the context in which something is said. This is certainly true in a number of situations, but does not really address the real question which is about whether you have the internal freedom to be yourself and the freedom to say what you want to whoever you want.

Like any freedom, a number of people will automatically want to suppress it at some level, with a variety of excuses as to why all types of freedom should be curtailed. The truth is that freedom to express oneself unconditionally is a huge part of emotional well-being and of having a healthy emotional outlook and view of life. Having the freedom to do something does of course not necessarily mean that you are going to do it. What it does mean is that you have a choice. It is the choice that is so crucially important to emotional health, rather than the reality of what it may or may not lead to, or whether or not the choice is implemented. For many people, especially those who have grown up in alcoholic homes or homes where there has been serious emotional dysfunction, the freedom to express oneself has been blocked and curtailed often at birth.

For many people who have grown up in this type of environment, there is a natural self-censorship of expression, in the mistaken belief that you have a responsibility to understand the impact of what you are likely to say is going to have on other people. To an extent there is an element of truth in this, as there is in all types of untruths or lie, that makes it much harder to disprove or challenge.

It is important to understand and acknowledge that whilst you are not responsible for other people’s reactions or how they feel, the context within which you wish to say something may affect the choice you make about whether you express yourself or not. This is a perfectly normal and healthy societal norm, that the majority of people would realistically adhere to.

From the context of self-improvement or self-help work, the real issue is understanding the nature of self-censorship, and how it limits the freedom to express yourself or not by eliminating the nature of choice. Choice about anything is critically important to personal growth, and an understanding that choices have consequences, and making a particular choice about something will have consequences. The importance of this, especially for people who have grown up in alcoholic homes is overwhelming, largely because the emotional growth has often been blocked by an inability to be themselves unconditionally, and to have this freedom to express themselves or not.

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