Personal Growth Through Effective Communication
In our journey of personal growth, we often prioritize goals such as exercising more, improving our diet, eliminating negative habits - tasks that we need to accomplish that have definable results. However, we often overlook an essential aspect of personal growth: the ability to effectively express our needs, wants, and desires with precise and clear articulation. This fundamental skill empowers us to navigate and cultivate deeper relationships with ourselves and others, ultimately leading to profound personal fulfillment. Neglecting the development of this skill can undermine our other personal goals as well. For instance, if we cannot confidently ask questions in our CrossFit class, our progress in achieving those physical goals may suffer. Or, if we can't speak up to our crush and let them know how we are feeling, we may miss out on a fulfilling relationship. So learning to articulate and communicate not only our everyday concerns but also our vulnerabilities is crucial for enhancing self-awareness as well as for laying the foundation for a richer, more deeply connected and and gratifying life. Let's dive into this often overlooked yet pivotal factor in personal growth.
Locked Up and No Way to Speak
Before my healing journey began, I was so lockup up verbally I could not even introduce myself to others on a phone conference call. That fuzzy tennis ball would pop up in my throat, a backlog of burgeoning tears would be pooling underneath it and I would remain in a cramped silence--over just the THOUGHT of saying, "Hi!, this is Eileen from New York!!" I could not access my ability to speak and put myself out there primarily because I wasn't connected to my inner core, or my physicality. Creating stories in my mind about what others were thinking about me would trigger anxiety and that would set off a stress response of freezing, which would in turn set off additional trauma responses that further shut down my ability to even access my physical body, disconnecting me from what I really felt. I had entered some automatic survival mode pattern that was set up decades ago and definitely was not useful in my life anymore especially when it came to expressing. I certainly wanted to show up to that conference call with all the ease and grace I heard others introducing themselves, but my separated self couldn't gather itself together over the great divide of my mental stories, patterned responses and how my true self wanted to actually show up and respond.
" What do you want to do?"
"I dunno, whatever you want"
Have you ever said this or done this? Just went along even if it wasn't what you wanted? Not being able to access what we feel on top of not being able to express it is a double trouble that not only stands in the way of our communication but our personal growth and relationships as well.
When it comes to appropriate communication, fawning can present significant challenges.
Fawning is a relatively new term in describing the 4th direction of our fight, flight and freeze responses. Fawning, in the context of interpersonal communication, refers to a tendency to excessively appease and please others, often at the expense of one's own needs and boundaries. When you just go along (like the example above) when you just agree and it's not what you really want --that's fawning. Fawners struggle to express fearing potential rejection or conflict because that might make them unloveable so they keep safe and silent going along and agreeing even if what is not true for them. They may find themselves constantly seeking external validation and avoiding any form of disagreement or confrontation.
Healing Expression Through Self Awareness Practices
The very act of speech is a somatic experience. To formulate words, our physicality must be involved: speech is produced by bringing air from the lungs to the larynx , where the vocal folds may be held open to allow the air to pass through or may vibrate to make a sound. The airflow from the lungs is then shaped by the articulators in the mouth and nose. Becoming aware of the sensory experience of speech when you are by yourself is a good way to get in relationship with that whole area. When we investigate our fuzzy tennis ball of stuckness we can begin to also ferret out those patterns that no longer serve us.
The next step is being able to access what you feel emotionally in order to express it. This involves cultivating a deep felt sense awareness of emotions first so we have a tangible framework in ourselves before we can express it. Self reflection particularly with embodied presence practices, allows us to begin to explore ourselves and our patterns. By bringing awareness to what we feel, we can begin to untangle our needs and our stuckness. Understanding ourselves at deeper levels gives rise to being able to communicate from those deeper levels. As we develop this relationship with ourselves we connect our body with our mind enabling a clearer pathway for communication to occur.
Healthy Boundaries and Respectful Relationships
When we speak clearly and assertively, we establish healthy boundaries in our relationships. When we just go along with what others want, we actually weaken the relationship by creating imbalance as well as dissing our own truth. Boundaries are essential for maintaining mutual respect and preventing resentment or exploitation. Remember that time a person did something for you but were clearly were pissed about doing it for you? "You don't have to do it" you might have said, but they were like, "No, its fine, I'll do it," all while exuding a disgruntled bitterness because its violating what really feels right for them. Their inability to connect and express themselves does more damage to both themselves and the friendship because they are reacting out of a fawning response of having to please. By clearly communicating our limits, preferences, and expectations, we create a solid foundation for understanding and collaboration. It also enables us to surround ourselves with individuals who genuinely support our growth and well-being and are growth oriented themselves.
Of course, there is always a balance between assertiveness and empathy when expressing and that comes with time and practice.
I don't know. I don't know what I want. I don't know how I feel. How many clients have told me these exact lines? The more expressiveness we have the more we equip ourselves with access to the answers to those important questions in order to to make empowered decisions. If we don't know, sometimes just making a choice is the correct tool to help us understand what it is we truly want. "Where do you want to go to eat?" If you don't know, instead of "anywhere you want to go" make a random choice. It puts the ball in your court and connects the somatic to the speech even if it wasn't the right restaurant. When we are aware of what we truly desire, we can make choices that align with what is important to us. This empowers us to shape our lives according to our own terms rather than being swayed by external pressures or expectations. By expressing ourselves authentically, we empower our decision-making and take charge of our own happiness and personal growth.
Deepening Relationships and Connection
Open, honest communication that is not afraid to confront is essential for building strong and meaningful relationships. When we express ourselves clearly, we allow others to understand us better, fostering empathy, trust, and connection. Moreover, it encourages reciprocity, creating an environment where others feel comfortable sharing their own needs and desires. By nurturing this open dialogue, we cultivate deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others.
Personal Fulfillment and Growth
Personal growth through effective communication by expressing our needs, wants, and desires is not always easy. It requires vulnerability, self-reflection, and courage. However, the benefits of mastering this skill are invaluable. When we take the time to acknowledge the inner felt sense of what makes us who we are, our natural self expression has a deep wellspring to draw from that is reflected by our inner guidance system. This process of diving deeper inside ourselves in order to facilitate outward expression is imperative in healing our ability to express ourselves verbally. Expressing our needs, wants, and desires requires a deep understanding of ourselves. For some of us it can seem impossible to even know what we want when we have spent a lifetime of living to please others, saying what is expected instead of what is true for us. Through mindful embodied presence practices we can cultivate a felt sense understanding of what is important and what truly matters to us, our values, and the moment by moment decisions of what we need to express as life happens. By engaging in this introspective process, we develop self-awareness, gaining an intrinsic felt sense into our emotions, aspirations, and boundaries. This self-awareness paves the way for a deeper relationship with ourselves and others and is woven with a rich fabric of effective communication.
Need assistance with expression and learning embodied presence practices? Eileen is an alternative healer who has completed 15 vision quests enabling her to be a clear and effective conduit for your personal growth. She has worked with somatic breathwork practices for the last 9 years and is a certified Unified Mindfulness Coach Contact Eileen@relaxandexpand.com