Express Yourself – The Self-Worth Challenge

4Cxkmc1439825765Welcome back to The Self-Worth Challenge. Each week I am addressing a topic related to self-worth. At the end of each post I include a few questions to help you consider how you value yourself and how to strengthen your self-worth further.

Although this will only take you five minutes or so, it will set you up to consider this aspect of your self over the coming week.

If you are new to the challenge you might want to start at the beginning and work your way through the series. The very first post is linked here.

Last week in “Own your Strengths’ we worked on owning our strengths and explored how that felt. This week we are moving on to the importance of expressing ourselves.

Express Yourself

A very big part of respecting who we are involves expressing ourselves. Your perspective is important even if it differs from those around you.

When we accept that what we feel is important and begin to voice it then the life we lead feels better in so many ways. Whilst it is not always an easy thing to do, expressing ourselves clearly and appropriately helps us on so many levels.

  • We feel better about ourselves
  • We limit the amount of stress we are under
  • Other people learn to respect us
  • We forge honest open relationships
  • We allow room in our lives for what is important to us rather than doing what other people require
A big part of respecting who we are involves expressing ourselves. Click To Tweet

There are varying reasons and beliefs, (other than a low of self-worth), that stop people from verbalising their opinions or saying ‘No’ when necessary.

Childhood Lessons

Some of us are taught to fear asking for what we want or saying how we feel. Negative reactions in childhood can leave us deciding that it is better to fit in and not voice our opinion. The problem is that in adulthood we can start to feel left out of the equation.

Fears Of Selfishness

One of the common fears is that we are being selfish by saying what it is we want. However, expressing ourselves is not about overriding other people, it is simply about putting out there what we think or what is important to us. Valuing ourselves is not about becoming demanding or forcing others to do what we want.

Fears Of Annoying Others

We can also fear that others will disapprove of what we have to say (or that we might be making things more awkward) but in the long run being open about what we want/feel is the best policy. People generally know when we are unhappy about something anyway. We communicate much more through our body language than we do through what we say. It can actually be quite challenging dealing with someone who clearly doesn’t say what they want because we know that they are not happy but have no idea what would help.

Fears of offending people

Much like the way we teach our kids, expressing ourselves is not about saying ‘You must do this for me’ or ‘I want this now’. We can still respect someones rights and feelings whilst having our own differing opinions.

Believing ‘I am not that sort of person’

This is not about a temperament type. It is not being quiet or noisy or an introvert or extrovert. People can talk a lot but say little, not actually expressing what is important to them. People can also talk a little but say very clearly what they need.


Tips for Expressing Yourself

Be straight forward

If you are aware of what you need or want, say it. Using the statements below might help if you are nervous of coming across demanding.

‘I feel…’
‘I would like..
Whats important to me is…

When we start a sentence with ‘I..’ it is helpful because it automatically makes it about us and stops our words sounding confrontational.


Say what you feel without a specific outcome needed

Know that it is not about always getting what you want but rather about voicing what is important to you. Some outcomes we are in control of. We can say ‘No’ to a request, for example, but sometimes we don’t have control. Often people hold back in these situations because they know that if they ask but don’t get what they want they will feel rejected or offended. Not asking in case we don’t get something limits us. If we ask, we might not get what we want, but we just might. Also, when we engage with people fully it changes how they are with us in the long run.

Tips on saying ‘No’

One tough thing for many of us is to say ‘No’ when we are asked to do something. We can feel guilty or selfish, particularly when we can find no reason other than we don’t feel like it.

The problem with saying ‘Yes’ to things we don’t want is that we end up either stressed/overworked/resentful or we have to find ways to avoid the situation when we could have saved ourselves a lot of effort by being honest up front.

Depending on what is comfortable we can either…

Say a direct ‘No’ and briefly explain without too much justification/apology


if that feels too direct we can use phrases like…

‘I would love to but..

Some situations, however, do not call for a direct ‘No’ but we may feel concerned about accepting in which case asking for more time or information can help give us longer to make the decision.

‘I don’t know, I will need some information/to think about it/to get back to you’

The Self-Worth Challenge Questions

So on to the questions for you.

Do you say what is important to you?

Can you say ‘No’ when you don’t want to do something?

Some people struggle with expressing themselves. If you fall into this camp then the challenge is to find those times when you don’t speak up and just notice when they are. At first practice in hindsight. So maybe you were asked to help out at an event and wanted to say ‘No’ but said ‘Yes’. It’s okay. Replay it in your mind with how it could have been. Then when you are ready, start doing it in real life.

When you are changing the way you behave it is normally best to start small and build up. Pick safer situations until you have practice before launching into more difficult ones. It can be uncomfortable to start with, particularly when you are doing something that people do not expect of you. However, with time everyone adjusts and it allows for a better connection between yourself and others.

Some people do express themselves but are defensive or very forceful about what they are saying. This group have discovered their voice but at some level, underneath there assertions, they actually feel uncomfortable about it. Maybe deep down they fear being criticised for having their own opinions or really think that they ‘should’ do what others want. If you fall into this group then practise voicing your opinion without lots of justification. Reassure yourself that what you feel and think is valid.

Lastly but not least, it is always important to remember that we have a right to change our minds about something.

Next week on the The Self-Worth Challenge: Be Yourself

If you are excited by the prospect of this challenge please tell your friends. It is a great thing to do and be able to share with those who care for us.

I would be love to know any aspect of this that you would like to share with me. I am aware that these journeys are often very personal, so if you would rather not it would still be great to know you are following along.  I will respond to all comments.

So what is next?

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37 thoughts on “Express Yourself – The Self-Worth Challenge

    1. Hi Cheryl. It is hard to express ourselves because we always want to be considerate of others but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you decide to change your approach, then start small. It is much like swimming, small strokes and stay in the shallow end to start with then it will feel easier and easier until you naturally tackle the big stuff. Best of luck. It feels strange to start with but will get more comfortable with practice. Kirsten

  1. This is great Kirsten! I love reading these posts! At drama school we talked about sharing, which is similar to this. To actually share thoughts and experiences rather than mindless chatting. I find the more you share or express yourself to others the more they open up back. Thanks for sharing x #momsterslink
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…Once upon a time – reviewMy Profile

    1. That is so true and one that it is worth remembering when we feel we are not connecting with people. Great point. I am glad to have you along for the ride. Kirsten

  2. My lack of expression definitely comes from my childhood. I wasn’t allowed to have opinions and feelings and whenever I did express them, I was always in the wrong for having those feelings and opinions so often times, I kept my mouth shut. Then I became an adult and discovered my voice but was overbearing about it. I even lost a friend by being that way. Someone I really valued but wasn’t willing to accept my apology when I realized that I was wrong. Now, I am very conscious of how I word things. It’s hard when I get mad about something though because sometimes I find myself (at least in my head) resorting back to my overbearing self but I do my best to make the effort to express myself appropriately! I’ve come a long way in my healing but communication is sometimes still tricky for me. Thanks so much for this post! You’ve given me a lot to think about.
    Michelle recently posted…To the Christian Zealot: Stop Judging Others!My Profile

    1. Hi Michelle, It is tricky at times there is no two ways about it.

      I can hear that you have come a long way and you are already on the journey to discovering your true voice. Keep searching for that middle road, one that is paved with your own belief in yourself and that fundamentally you are okay to be who you are and you will continue to progress. Great to hear from you Michelle. Kirsten

  3. Now that I am 40 something I have no problem saying how I feel even if it’s going to offend someone. But in my 20’s I was mousey and rarely spoke up. Probably why I had a lot of failed relationships because by the time I did speak up it was too late. Thank you again for sharing another great part to your summer self worth challenge with #momsterslink. Truly brilliant.
    Trista, Domesticated Momster recently posted…Life As I Know It Is About To ChangeMy Profile

    1. Hi Trista. It is damaging to relationships when we don’t add our needs to it, even when we think we are being considerate because those feelings build up and either burst out or create resentments. In the short run it can be difficult but on the long it is much easier to be honest. One more to go now. I cant believe the challenge will be over soon. I will miss it. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Kirsten

  4. Another great post Kirsten. I have got far better at expressing myself over the last 5 years – being in a controlling relationship and then getting out of it helped me see just how much I hadn’t been doing that. I still find it hard to say no and also worry about what people think of me but I am getting better all the time (in the immortal words of The Beatles!). Thanks again for linking to #PoCoLo x
    Verily Victoria Vocalises recently posted…Preparing for Star Wars with MelijoeMy Profile

    1. Hi Victoria, It is great to hear that not only have you got our of a controlling relationship but through it you have learnt about yourself and been able to change how you communicate. It is a common to be concerned about what other people will think of us. We are social animals after all and need other people. However relationships in all forms actually do better when there is honesty within them even though at times it is not easy. Kirsten

  5. This is a super important message! It took me a long time to get to a place where I was comfortable with what I need. It is surprisingly hard to put yourself first and feel it is OK to say no to somethings. I did’t want to be selfish, I thought it was a bad word, I was wrong. Thanks for sharing on #mummyandus I always feel thankful for your support xx
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Here I come crashing back to reality. #mummy & usMy Profile

    1. It is funny how we are taught on one level to put others first but the reality is that we have to respect ourselves and value ourselves to have other people do the same. these are life lessons that come with time, experience and a bit of reflection. Have a a great week Mackenzie.

    1. Hi Mrs Tubbs. i think it is a life long process really but when we know why it is important it helps us in those moments. Best of luck with expressing yourself more. It is worth it in the long run. Kirsten

  6. Kirsten, I always enjoy reading your posts; they raise my self awareness in surprising ways! This week when I reflect on your words I know that my resistance to express myself is linked to a fear of conflict. If I perceive that the group I’m with are ‘on the same page’ and harmonious then I feel relaxed & happy to speak my mind. But if I sense that my opinion will go against the grain, then it makes me nervous to express it. When I have tried to confront this reluctance and just say it, it always come out wrong – usually overly assertive and confrontational! This is ironic as this is exactly the end result I was trying to avoid! Food for thought…#mummyandus
    Lisa recently posted…Finding My WhyMy Profile

    1. Hi Lisa, This is not just you and it is genuinely hard to stand against the tide (I have by no means mastered this one either). For me personally it us about speaking up with no thought that I have to achieve a particular outcome. It takes the pressure away. Also using ‘I’ statements can help. ‘I see what you are saying but I feel…’ or ‘It seems to me that..’.

      It is ironic that in life we often create the things we try to avoid. It is as if no matter what we do, confront things head on or try to avoid them, we will be confronted with them anyway so that we can learn!!

      Thanks for your comment. It is great to hear your personal insights and from that I can hear your potential for growth. I love your blog by the way. Kirsten

  7. Great post. This is something that I work on daily. My husband and I have promised from the beginning to not “play those games” where we dance around what we are really thinking. It’s challenging but way less exhausting than hoping he figures stuff out on his own, because he won’t. 😉 Regardless, I was a shy kid and those feelings do linger. Thanks for sharing w/ #heymomma!
    casey recently posted…Running, Gardening, Baby Shoes, and Hey, Momma! Link Party #8!My Profile

    1. It is so great to hear that you have this as a priority, Casey. Sometimes we just are not clear on what we want and then it is not easy but if we know, being straight forward is the best way to go. I was always shy too but it is okay to have that part within our personalities. It may not be the cool thing to be (society seems to like extroverts) but it is such a useful skill in many aspects of life. Great to hear from you. Have a good week. Kirsten

  8. I’m ok with expressing myself and asking for what I want (I always figure the worst that can happen is you don’t get it and you’re no further back!).
    I’m not too good at saying no to covering extra shifts at work – I can if there’s a good reason, but not if it’s just because I don’t feel like it – I think that stems from when I have asked people to cover in the past and they don’t have a great reason for saying no, I know how much it annoys me.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes
    Random Musings recently posted…My Monthly Reflections – AugustMy Profile

    1. Hi Debbie, It is great that you do express yourself and certainly there are times when we make that decision to do something because we believe it is the right thing to do even though we don’t feel like it. My point about not feeling like it was that it can be a valid reason too. If we do too much that we don’t feel like in life then we become drained and worse may stop listening to ourselves. Thanks for sharing your proactive approach to expressing yourself. Have a great week. Kirsten

  9. Fab post Kirsten and great to have found you! I’ve never had a problem expressing myself *ahem* but I’m constantly working on my listening skills which is I guess the flip side of this. I do struggle with saying ‘no’ sometimes though and taking on more than I can achieve which never bodes well with my perfectionist personality! x
    Michelle Reeves (The Essex Barn) recently posted…Step-by-step bookcase makeoverMy Profile

    1. Hi Michelle,

      It is great that you do express yourself.

      Learning to be really comfortable with your own strengths can also help your listening skills. The perfectionist in you may stop you from really valuing those key parts in yourself because nothing is ever quite enough (even though that part of you will have had it’s uses in helping you achieve much that you wouldn’t have otherwise). I am glad to have found your site too. It looks really interesting. It is great to have you join the Self worth challenge and to hear from a blogger who is in the same county! Have a great week. Kirsten

  10. I REALLY need to save this post!! Whenever I have a few bad days I need to read this instead of having a mental breakdown and scaring the crap out of my mom. It happened 3 weeks ago and everything is pretty fresh. 🙁
    gotmeghan recently posted…OOTD: WhiteMy Profile

    1. I am really glad this is of use to you. It is horrible when we get to the point of a melt down but equally the meltdown itself may be a much needed release. This is part of a whole series that looks at self worth and it may be of use to you, maybe to stop the pressure getting so intense. the first part is at . thanks for visiting The Guilt Free Guide and leaving a comment. It is appreciated. Kirsten

  11. I am a very open persons but I do always find if I open up to someone that is less likely to they tend to do the same back and feel comfortable with it. As always great advice. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again soon. I apologize for my late commenting, just catching up on a hectic week. I appreciate all the blog support. Look forward to reading more of your SWM link ups. #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…Wednesday’s Blog Birthday Giveaway: Oxo Good GripsMy Profile

    1. Hi Jen, I think it is a life long process, learning to express ourselves. I am pleased that it was a good day for you to read this post. From your comment I am wondering if you can identify what the knots are? Are they fear or something else. Understanding the emotions and beliefs that lie behind is one of the best ways of progressing. Thanks for joining The Self Worth challenge. If you would like to work through it it starts here. Kirsten

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