If you want to learn how to stop censoring yourself, here are some practical actions you can take.
How often have you wanted to say something but kept silent?
How often have you wanted to showcase your art or your work, but decided not to?
Maybe you didn’t want to admit it, but the fear of criticism or rejection stopped you from sharing, from expressing.
You censored yourself.
What if you stopped pretending that you don’t care if your art or work doesn’t become successful?
What if you stopped hiding from the world?
To stop censoring yourself, it’s helpful to explore some of the beliefs you might hold.
“I can’t sing (but I want to).”
“I’m a terrible dancer (and I’ll never be able to learn)”
“I feel uncomfortable speaking in a group of people (and that will never change).”
Those thoughts are pretty common for many people.
Why are we afraid of what other people will think of us?
I’ve even heard famous actors and musicians say they are still worried about whether people like their work and like them.
Even after all their success, they still find it hard to shake that doubt off.
Sometime in your past, probably when you were a kid, you decided that it wasn’t safe for you to express yourself.
Maybe you got criticized a few times by peers or adults. And you started to hold back.
Stay safe. Be generic. Blend in.
It seemed like a good way to avoid negative criticism, right?
How to Stop Censoring Yourself
1. Observe how often you are self-censoring.
Pay attention to how often you decide not to do or say something because you’re worried about what people will think.
Do you avoid wearing bright colors so that you don’t stand out, even if you like bright colors?
Were you going to make a suggestion at a meeting at work but decided not to because you didn’t want anyone in the room to think it was a bad idea?
Did you want to tell someone you care about them, but then you held back (because maybe they won’t reciprocate)?
Becoming aware of how often you censor your thoughts and actions is the first key to living more freely.
2. Remove the filter.
Lift the self-imposed (and unnecessary) censorship.
Start to get more comfortable expressing. Take a few small risks each day.
Notice how nothing bad happens when you do this.
If you tend to hold back, then experiment with speaking what’s on your mind more often.
3. Experiment with taking bigger risks.
For example, do something expressive that you’ve always wanted to do but felt scared to do it.
Prepare for a concert and play live.
Become a speaker at an event that you really care about.
Take your business idea out of your head, put it onto paper and tell a few people that you really trust that you’re working on a new business.
Read one of your poems at a poetry event.
Say “hello” to a few people while going about your day and don’t worry too much about how they respond to you.
4. Use positive self-talk.
To stop censoring yourself, take on the simple habit of positive self-talk or affirmations that resonate with you.
If you’re feeling hesitant about how you express yourself in the world (style of dress, what you say, your interests, your art and work), start from where you’re at and keep building yourself up.
Grow your belief through surrounding yourself with inspiring books, videos, people and thoughts.
Your thoughts need to support you, not tear you down.
This is one thing (perhaps the only thing) that we really can control (even though it seems like our thoughts are often not in our control).
Avoiding things you want to do but are afraid to do is self-censorship.
Stop censoring yourself. Stop playing small.
Imagine if your favorite artists, authors, inventors, entrepreneurs, writers, and professionals decided they wouldn’t share anything publicly unless they knew for sure that the first thing they produced would be a hit.
You never would have heard of any of these people or been able to enjoy what they produced.
No classic songs, no cool inventions, no inspiring books and movies, no pioneering technologies and helpful services.
Test out the ideas above to help you to stop censoring yourself. The world needs your voice and your talents. Let’s see what you’ve got!
What is one small habit or behaviour you can start doing today to stop censoring yourself?
Write that down and make a commitment to yourself to add this habit into your day.