Halloween is a holiday that is loved by many because it gives us the opportunity to express ourselves in a way that would be considered socially inappropriate any other day of the year. We can dress up as someone who is completely out of our own character.
This weekend, as I do every year, I found myself contemplating a Halloween costume. I decided to keep in simple (as I usually do) by putting a costume together with some clothes and accessories that I already had laying around.
Somewhere in the midst of visualizing what this costume would look like, a certain fashion trend came to mind. It was one that I always thought was cool, but I never actually had the guts to do.
The fashion trend? “Leather” leggings (they’re not really leather, but look like it). After seeing Marie Forleo wearing a pair on a photo on her website, the desire to go that route has been on my mind but I’ve been holding back.
You see, a little over 10 years ago a similar fashion trend was in style. I had some classmates that wore flared pants with a leathery-coating over top. Others wore flared pants with a leopard print. Even then I was attracted to the style. I don’t know why, but something about them drew my attention.
However, at that time when I was in my mid-teens wearing a pair of pants like that was completely unheard of in my household. There were several things that should never be worn and that was one of them. I knew that if even if I did buy a pair and somehow sneak out of the house wearing them I’d be in for a TON of criticism.
And even though that was about 10 years ago, that fear is still there. Even though my outer critics are gone, those critics are still internalized.
This is what I had to confront this weekend. My inner critic kept saying things like “This is not appropriate!” and “If you wear that then you’re just desperate for attention”.
Eventually, my desire to have them far exceeded my inner critic and I found myself at the mall trying on and then buying my first pair of “leather” pants. I overcame my inner critic once again and have taken another step closer to my own unique self-expression.
It’s a challenging thing for us to do and, though it may not appear to be on the outside, it is a great risk. It is especially difficult for us people pleasers because we so desperately want to keep others happy and not cause any stir. We fear taking the risk if it seems we may be unaccepted.
This can manifest in a number of ways. For some of us it involves moving to a new location or taking a new career path. For others its stepping outside of your comfort zone to experience a completely different culture or to wear something that you’ve never worn before in your life. It challenges us to release what we believe to be our identity so that we can move closer to who we truly are.
So what can we do to help us let go of the inner critic and be more self-expressive?
Identify your inner critic in the act.
Is there something that you’ve been REALLY wanting to do but you’re inner critic keeps telling you not to? What is it telling you? Then reflect on whether those things that the inner critic is saying is correlated to a voice you used to hear growing up. Was it a family member or teacher? How about a friend or classmate? Is it rooted in a cultural belief?
Realize the critic’s irrationality.
Though there are ethical debates with some things, most of the time the reality is that something is only inappropriate if you are acting out of fear or lack. So if you catch your inner critic saying “Don’t do that cause that’s totally inappropriate” stop and ask yourself “Am I wanting to do this out of a lack of self-worth or because I really truly just want to express more of my authentic self?”
If your really not sure of this, I personally always think of Lady Gaga. She is like the modern day epitome for self-expression. The woman has no fear. I mean, come on, meat dress? Could you be anymore self-expressive? That being said, there are also celebrities who have clearly acted more out of a desperate need to get attention as well.
Take a step (or a mini-step) towards more self-expression.
So you want to try a totally outrageous new hairstyle? Go for it – or maybe just do a mild version of the new style. Want a tattoo? Go for it – or try out one of those washable henna tattoos first. Go at the pace you feel most comfortable so you can be confident, but take a step forward.
Take a step in your own self-expression today!
What is something that you’ve always wanted but you’ve been letting your inner critic tell you not to? What does your inner critic say?
Share your experiences below!