Being Fully Self-expressed

Being Fully Self-expressed

Lisa O'Neill

Lisa O'Neill

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We are all ourselves. Everything we do expresses who we are, how we show up, how we dress, and what we do except when you are being someone else’s version of you.


Last Saturday, we were doing a session at Business School and a student asked, “How can I be fully self-expressed?”

Matt’s response was perfect – “You can’t not be.”

We are all ourselves. Everything we do expresses who we are, how we show up, how we dress, and what we do, except when you are being someone else’s version of you. The version of you that you were rewarded for being. The version of you who met the expectations of those around you.

After several centuries on the planet, we often wake up to the fact that we are someone else’s version of ourselves.

So how do you get back in the driver’s seat? How do you get in charge of who and what you are?

To be able to fully self-express, you need to know yourself. You need to know what you like, know what you love, know what lights you up. Know what you will and will not accept in your life. You need to know what you value and what you think is important.

The four tools that will help you understand and express yourself are:

  1. Notice
    Notice your reaction to things, to people, to circumstances.
    Notice the things that wind you up, that you feel passionate about, or want to change.
    Notice what makes you angry? What frustrates you?
  2. Journal
    Journal your experiences, your thoughts, and the answers to the questions that you have. I am constantly interviewing myself about all kinds of things. What did I think of a character in a TV show? What was my response to a media broadcast? How do I feel in certain circumstances, in certain spaces, with certain people?
  3. Speak
    The third tool is your voice. Start speaking your truth. Say what you think and think about what you say. So often in conversations, we are simply going through the motions, unconsciously contributing to nothing, just filling in the space between ourselves and another. We have been taught that keeping the peace, not being offensive and being agreeable are all good things. And sometimes they are – except when you are doing it at the expense of yourself. Being able to sit with someone with whom you do not agree is a sign of deep personal development.
  4. Change
    Allowing change. Often the people around us view our personal or professional growth as a bad thing because it might end up being bad for them. When we grow and change, others get concerned. It suits them if you stay small. It suits them if you stay the same. It means that their relationship with you is unlikely to change. People fear change. They fear the growth of others.


You have to be ok with change. To accept it and I think to seek it! The best visual I have for change are deciduous trees. I am quite obsessed with trees. I think they are incredibly wise and I love to learn from them.

Think about an autumn tree, New Zealand is currently full of beautiful deep orange, bold yellow and red trees all gently letting go. They are letting go of their old selves. They do not do this with any aggression or trying. It just happens. It happens because they trust the process. They know the season that they are in. The leaves drop effortlessly. The tree trusts the process that new leaves will come.

By letting our old selves go, we become lighter. When our energy is light and authentic, we become more ‘attractive’ – we become energetically magnetic. People are drawn to us being who we are. Subconsciously when we are our true selves, we give other people permission to do the same.

None of it is as easy as it sounds. You have been made wrong for most of your life. You have had more messages from the world about what is wrong with you than what is right. Think back to a time when you have told someone about something you wanted, liked, or desired. You might have been told you cannot have that. This often comes in the form of “Who do you think you are?” or “What are you like?” which translates to “I don’t have the right to ask for what I want or need.”

One of my favourite mantras is “What other people think of you is none of your business”. Being fully self-expressed is about putting your thoughts about yourself ahead of the thoughts of others.

To be full of yourself is seen as a bad thing. This week, I have spoken to two students at Thought Leaders Business School who have been challenged about their ‘new selves’. Challenged by people who are threatened by their growth, by the changes they have made, or the new ways in which they are showing up.

Growth is uncomfortable, for you and those around you. And that’s why I get so much value from the Thought Leaders community, a bunch of people who are on a similar journey – people looking for growth, people pushing extending and developing themselves. We often say we are not a personal development program – but be very clear that when you sign up to become commercially smart, when you commit to capturing, packaging and delivering the difference you were born to make – you will be developed!


Lisa O’Neill

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