My client Peter felt deeply detached from his family. They lived in a self-contained bubble of delusion where there were unwritten rules about how and when to communicate, what topics could be discussed and how everyone must adhere to a hierarchy of importance (he was far from the top).
He never felt like he belonged there and rebelled against the status quo by staying true to himself and saying how he felt. And the reaction was always negative, mostly in the form of judgment.
And so he eventually withdrew; isolating himself from his family to reduce the emotional impact they were having on him. He also started holding back expressing himself naturally to friends and colleagues as he projected the past judgement onto future exchanges and slowly his self-esteem dropped.
Developing self-esteem involves detaching from the opinions of others. This is harder than it seems, especially if you were exposed to excess criticism during childhood as the experiences become lodged as triggers, to be fired at any time and place.
Working with Peter, I needed to help him find his voice again and realize the power and importance of his unique point of view. The fear of judgement was real, but he had to push through it.
This was a slow process as he gradually opened up to people and small groups he trusted. He is now taking more risks and being himself around people he doesn’t know and depersonalizing their reactions.
Ultimately, expression takes many forms: writing, moving, painting, singing….find out what makes sense to you and put it out there.
You should NEVER be afraid to express yourself. You may run the risk of offending someone (or being put down) but that is genuinely their problem and not yours. You might also find that “using your words” and being yourself permits others to do the same and bridge a social gap many people would love to cross.