Do you WORRY about things that haven't happened yet? Do you live in the past and the future and NOT the present? If your answer is YES, most likely you live with ANXIETY and WORRY. When you don't live in the moment, you create many WHAT-IF's. What if's create a sense of unknown and a sense of having no control. My belief is that anxiety and worry mask what you are actually FEELING. For instance, what is behind your WORRY? If you were to take the mask of worry off, what would be left? Sadness? Fear? Aloneness? Is it possible you might be experiencing any of these feelings? What would happen if you felt the feelings instead of the anxiety?
Anger is just one of the primal emotions that if not understood or expressed constructively, can sabotage a person's relationships, career, academic life and one's ability to live an emotionally healthy life. From a young age, we are given messages either consciously or unconsciously from those around us about our feelings and how or how not to express them. Anger, if not taken care of, is one emotion that can have us responding aggressively towards others or, kept inside of us causing health and emotional problems down the road. So, learning how to express anger constructively is vital to your well being. One way we can express anger is through art. Though, I will give you some tips on how to get to know your anger and steps you can take to calm yourself in the face of the anger beast.
First of all. What do you know about your anger? Do you have a tendency to lash out at others? Does your anger make you sad? Does your anger scare you and those around you? What were you taught about anger growing up? Were you allowed to be angry in your home? I don't mean throw or hit things or people, but were you given permission to say I'm really angry and I need help, or, were you told it's not OK to be angry? What do you do with your anger now? How do you take care of yourself when you feel angry? Let me give you some ideas on ways you can take care of your anger when it surfaces.
Get to know your anger, i.e, don't push it down. What you might want to do the next time you feel angry is: 1. Don't React! 2. Breath - Focus on your breathing. 3. Think before you speak. 4. Listen to other's opinions. 5. Walk away if you feel yourself getting ready to strike out at someone or something. 6. Go some place safe and hit a pillow.
In terms of art, I recommend you identify the color of your anger. How big is your anger? Does it take up the entire piece of paper or just a small area? What shape is your anger? If your anger were an animal, what would it be? What are the triggers of your anger? How do you know when you are angry?
On a piece of paper, create an image of your anger. In other words, create a picture that represents your anger using, colored pencils, crayons, paint, collage or any medium you wish. What art material you use is not important. Give your anger a name. When you are finished with your art, you might want to dialogue with it. On another piece of paper, I'd like you to create a picture that represents what you know about your anger. The triggers, what helps you when you're angry? Who can you talk to when you are angry? These are all important things to know about your anger and ways to take care of yourself when you do get angry. Also, identify in your body where you feel your anger and sooth that area as you breath and take some time out.
Have you ever noticed how color can shift your mood? Color is all around us. But what is color? "Color is light and energy." (www.arttherapyblog.com.) I've purposely created this post with many colors for you to see your reaction to the various colors. An example of how color can affect our mood is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which causes some individuals to experience depression in the winter months, when darkness arrives. Or, have you experienced a shift in mood when you look at a rainbow? It is really amazing how color can affect our state of being and it is important to know what colors calm us, excite us, bring us down, etc. For the exercise below, you can mix colors or use the colors as they are.
I used to cringe when I heard the word "intention." I heard it used in ways that felt "cult-like." But I've come to find the word inspiring and helpful in moving through the day. So, what idea, purpose or intention would you would like to guide you through this Friday, September 14th? Is it calm? How about assertiveness? Do you need to be more authentic? Trusting of yourself? What about having an intention of staying in the moment?
Here is your art directive for the day: Think of an intention you would like to guide you today. Pick any medium you would like to use and create an image that represents that intention. You can make it as large or small as you wish since you might want to carry it with you today. After you create your image, look at it for a few minutes and really take the image in. Ask the image to stay with you. Ask it if it has any messages for you. Reflect on the image throughout the day. And, go peacefully through the day with your intention close at hand. Peace, Victoria
To follow up on my last post about the stories we carry around inside of us about our lives and ourselves, I want to ask, how do you finish the line, "Once Upon a Time..."? I really believe the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and more importantly the meaning we make about our experiences, shape our perception of life. For instance, what personal meaning do you make out of gaining a few pounds? Or, getting a "C" in a class? Or making a mistake? Do you use it as an opportunity to work harder or beat yourself up? For many, it is an invitation to pull out the should attacks; the doubting and berating up of one's self. What if, it could just be what it is without placing judgement or negative meaning about yourself? What if, you could respond with, Hmm, guess I have to study a little harder. Or, hmm, I think I'll watch my carbs, sugar and fat intake and move my body more this week. Wouldn't that be awesome to not beat yourself up and allow it to determine your self-worth or essence?
EXERCISE: What I'm getting at here is working on a new story about yourself, which can begin with the typical fairy tale opening, Once upon a time... I invite you to create a new message, story or tale about yourself. You can use images to create that tale or words. This is about editing that internal dialogue that has a need to put you down every chance it has. Images are powerful because they remain in your memory longer. They by pass the thinking brain and go right the emotional brain.
We all walk around with a story about ourselves and our lives: No one loves me; I'm stupid;I'm ugly; I'll never be happy; I'll always be alone; I'll never have money. What's the story you walk around with inside of you? Do any of these stories sound familiar? Have you ever thought of challenging that story? What about creating a new story? You can begin by creating a collage, a drawing, a clay image that represents a new story. This doesnt' mean you write a story that is out of reach such as I'm the wealthy person in the world...though it depends on how you define wealthy. But, a story that is built on trust. A story that is filled with love and acceptance and a belief that I will be OK.
MANDALA WORKSHOP TBD
Facilitator Victoria Van Zandt, MA, MFT, AT
In this 2-hour workshop, you will learn the art of creating your personal, freestyle mandala using colored pencils, collage and crayons. Mandalas have been used throughout history and in many cultures as a vehicle to promote meditation, healing, self-awareness and to tap into the unconscious. Art experience not required. Supplies and refreshments provided. Cost is $20. To reserve your spot right away, click HERE!
Today, ________________, I _____________________promise to speak to myself with kindness, trust, acceptance and unconditional love. I realize the healthiest relationship I can have is with myself. I refuse to beat myself up or doubt myself. I will move through the day and night with the knowledge that I am whole and complete and where I am supposed to be. I will stay in the moment. I will not compare myself to others or "should" on myself. If something is not working in my life, I will take steps to make changes and ask for help. My internal dialogue will be supportive and loving. I will not criticize or put myself down under any condition. I will love myself as if I were my own child.
So, you decide you're in the mood to de-clutter your place, and the first thing you notice is that old pile of magazines over in the corner. Then you wonder....what do I need these things for? I'll tell you. Before you bundle them up and toss them in the dumpster, think again. Go through them as you are sitting and watching TV and tear out the images that grab your attention. You can tear out images, sayings, letters, etc. Put them in a folder, shoebox or drawer and use them to create a collage greeting card. I know what you're thinking, when do I have time to create a collage? It is called making time to sit and be in the moment. Making time for creativity in your life will lower your blood pressure, calm your anxiety and bring a smile to your face. You can do it alone or with friends or your children.
Here is a recent mandala I created using colored pencils. Creating a mandala when we feel anxious, overwhelmed or in the mood to free ourselves of tension and stress can be a revealing and healing experience. If you need to center yourself, regain a sense of calm or just need a space to let it out, a mandala might be just what the doctor ordered.
All you really need are colored pencils, pastels, markers or any other medium you like. Any size paper will do and something to trace a circle with. Again, the size of the circle is up to you. You can even use your journal! Sometimes staring at a blank piece of paper can be intimidating, so I suggestion, after you draw your circle, stare at the circle for a few minutes. You might want to imagine you are walking around inside the circle before you begin drawing. Breathe and place the pencil anywhere in the circle you wish. You might want to ask the mandala if it has any information for you. Or, if you are struggling with a dilemma in your life, ask for guidance. There is no right or wrong way to create a freestyle mandala other then allowing your true self to speak. You can stay inside the circle and/or draw outside the circle.
Try not to judge, or aim for perfection. Tape into your beginners mind and playful spirit and have fun! Remember, it is about the process and not the product that is so important to this experience.
Have you ever thought about drawing an image of your heart? Not the biology of your heart, but the emotions it holds, the energy it produces, the feelings it has? For instance, how does your heart feel today? Is it feeling light and free-spirited, or is there something else going on? Does it feel heavy with grief? Confused? Frustrated? Angry?
If you had to choose a color to represent how your heart feels today, what color would you choose? Is the image soft-edged or, jagged? Does it feel small and maybe frightened? or open and alive with joy?
The above image is one I did some years back. It is mixed media including collage and pastels. I was feeling a variety of emotions, and my heart felt contained and whole. This was a relaxing project, because I worked within the image of my heart. It was fun and provided me an outlet to express how I was feeling that particular day.
Pick a medium you would like to work with such as colored pencils, pastels, markers or anything that you are drawn to today.
Close your eyes and begin to tap into your feelings.
Bring your attention to your heart.
Breathe in and out.
Does a color come to mind?
Does a a size emerge?
Once you have identified a color and size, open your eyes and draw an image of a heart on a piece of paper. You can also do this if you have not identified a color or size and begin filling in the heart with whatever color you are drawn to.
Begin filling in the heart image with the color or colors that came to mind.
I suggest doing this exercise in your journal and create a heart image daily to track your feelings. You will begin to learn the many shades your heart reveals.
Most of all, have fun and allow your heart to speak!
Leave your critic at the door, I once heard a writing instructor say. I love that idea. For most of us, our critics and/or judges are alive and well. They keep us in a place of self-doubt and many times support a core belief we have about ourselves. For instance, a belief that we are not good enough, that we are unlovable, that we are not smart, etc. I had a client do a collage once of her internal critic. Her collage ended up being an entire committee that each reacted differently to her depending on what the issue was she was dealing with. For instance, there was an image of "there you go again making another mistake," in other words, the voice of shame. There was the image of imperfection, the doubting Thomas, the list went on and on. Some of the images, she realized, only came to light because of doing the collage.
I really encourage clients to listen to how they speak to themselves. It is amazing how we are programmed from a young age to relate to ourselves. Very rarely to do we use a loving supportive voice with ourselves. We choose instead to beat ourselves up any chance we get. We doubt ourselves, we look for imperfections, if there are such things, we dwell on what we view as our faults rather than our amazing abilities and strengths.
The next time you find yourself choosing to beat yourself up or doubt yourself, STOP. You might have to actually say that to yourself...STOP. Really listen to this voice. Try to grasp an image of this voice and if you wish, put it down on paper anyway you wish. Give it a name. Be curious about this voice and know that at one point in your life it might have served a purpose. Maybe as a kid when you were being criticized, it kept you agreeing rather than disagreeing with the instigator thereby avoiding conflict. AND, know that you now have a choice about how you speak and relate to yourself? You do not have to buy into its criticism!
Have you ever stopped and noticed how you speak to yourself when no one is around? A good example is when you look in the mirror the first thing in the morning. Or, when you get a grade that is lower than what you expected. Does it go something like this: You idiot! I can't do anything right! Figures. I'm so stupid, I'll never amount to anything! No one will ever love me. It's called our internal critic or tape that keeps you stuck in a place of self-doubt. Most often, it is the internalized voice of someone you grew up with such as a parent, care-giver, teacher or sibling. When I say, internalized, I mean you have taken the message in as truth and replay it in your head, but, it does not originate from you! It is someone elses' belief system. That is important to remember and take note of. We all have some amount of the internal critic inside of us. Sometimes it pushes us to be better, but mostly, it's there to keep you feeling bad about yourself. When the critic is nonstop and keeps you continually doubting yourself rather than trusting yourself, it's time to SNAP OUT OF IT!
One way I work with clients is by helping them to acknowledge and bring their awareness to this critical voice. One example is by challenging it's messages that repeat continually throughout the day and night. Awareness of the critic is the first step to changing the dialogue you have with yourself. Noticing when it surfaces and when it is the strongest is important to confronting it. Here are some tips on how to stop the power of the internal critic:
1. Take note of the voice you use with yourself.
2. Is it doubting and critical?
3. How does it make you feel about yourself?
4. Are there any benefits to using this voice with yourself?
5. Is it kind and loving?
6. Use the opposite, i.e., No one loves me change to I am loved.
Once you've identified the voice, try challenging it. What I mean is, if it says I'm stupid, ask it how it knows. Respond by saying something like, I'm not stupid. It takes practice to change a voice that has been around for a long time. I also recommend you make a list of the beliefs and messages your critical voice says to you and then write the opposite. It will take daily practice and commitment to changing the internal critic to one of doubt to trust.
Hang in there!
I am a supporter, believer and provider of psychotherapy....not because I am a licensed psychotherapist, but because I know first-hand how therapy can guide and help people through life's challenges. I use the metaphor of the ocean to explain how life is not always a journey of calm seas--there are swells, storms, rip tides, sea creatures, and unexpected shifts in the tides. along the way. These conditions are difficult to bypass when traveling the sea of life. What is different about being out in the ocean is that in our lives we are not given an instruction manual to direct us through life's turbulent waters. If we seek advice from friends and family members, we will get different solutions to one problem. We are given friends, families, and other significant relationships to hopefully comfort us, but many times we need someone to just listen, someone who won't place judgement on us, interrupt us with their personal stories, and who will not discuss our private thoughts and feelings with others. That is how therapy is different. It provides a safe place to share thoughts and feelings without fear that what we say will be gossiped about, and we are being listened to by a trained clinician who can identify behavior patterns and give us tools to manage sabotaging thoughts.
There continues to be a stigma attached to seeing a therapist. There are many who still believe that only "crazy" people seek psychotherapy and that talking about feelings is for the weak among us. This could not be further from the truth. For instance, why would you want to live your life continuing to repeat the same mistakes, engage in unhealthy relationships or live a life of mistrust of yourself and those around you? Wouldn't it be easier to learn methods and tools to manage self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors? Wouldn't life be more enjoyable if you only knew how to control and manage depression, anxiety, anger and behaviors that create chaos in your life?
Learning tools to manage anxiety and depression can mean the difference between living a life of pain and unhappiness instead of feeling in control and trusting ones self. Learning methods to alter the self-defeating internal dialogue is one way to begin the process. How we speak to ourselves when no one is around keeps us doubting ourselves and that effects our relationships, work, and mood.
So,why would you consider seeing a psychotherapist? Some people choose to go to therapy because of a life-altering experience: they lose their job; their marriage falls apart; they experience a death of a friend or family member; they experience a trauma or near death experience; they suffer a serious health challenge. Then their are individuals who seek out therapy to develop greater self-awareness and grow as human-beings. There might not be one specific issue they come into therapy hoping to resolve, but they want to understand themselves better. So you see, therapy is for those among us who want to develop a personal manual to aid them and guide them through the ebbs of a flows of the sea of life.
Next post I will write more about a few of different types of psychotherapy that are out there.
Why do we, especially women, attach so much meaning and value to how we look? Why for many, is our self-confidence connected to how we feel about our physical appearance and why do we fear the changes our bodies undergo? I'm not talking about declining health as we age or being struck with a health condition as we age, but why do we fear the wrinkles, the gray hairs, and the other physical changes that are a natural process of aging? One way to move through the aging process is with creativity. Is there a way to use art to build a healthy relationship with our changing appearances? In the UK, a group called "Look at Me," invited women to take part in an art therapy group to support women and help them gain insight and develop a healthy outlook on their changing appearances. Here is a link to the youtube video of this process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnMfQLiVu3w&feature=player_embedded#!
Recently, a friend of mine shared that she is very upset about turning 40 soon. Her white hairs are a sign midlife is just around the corner. She pulls the white hairs out to extinguish the reminders of her aging body. I suggested, she might want to save some of the white hairs she pulls, and glue them to black paper and dialogue with them. Give the white hairs a voice and allow them to speak back to the voice that is so fearful of aging. If you prefer, draw an image of the white/gray hairs on a black piece of paper and do the same exercise. Get to know the white hair; be curious about your changing hairs that are sprouting among the black, brown, blond, and/or red field. What do these new hairs represent to you? My friend sees them as representing a "dead end;" An indication that time is running out and it's all down hill from here.
She is not alone. Our society places much more value on the young than the old or, for that matter, the middle-aged. Young is good...old is bad. That is why so many women undergo cosmetic surgery and Botox.
Here is another exercise to try.
Use any drawing material you have and on a piece of plan paper, color or white, on the left side of the paper draw an image, as best you can, this is not an art class, of yourself with a young face. You can also collage this exercise. Make it as simple or abstract as you wish. Now, along side that image, create an image of yourself at the age you are now....an image of how you experience yourself at your current age. What changes? What remains the same? Notice the feelings that come up. Notice if you talk to or experience yourself differently. I would also suggest you write in your journal about any feelings or thoughts you have. If you find you are being judgmental or critical of yourself, I want you to try and use a loving and kind voice with yourself. Practice that new voice daily and see what happens. If that loving voice is a challenge, try being neutral - not rejecting or embracing...stay in the middle where no judgement takes place.
You are always welcome to write me about any questions or experiences you have. I will write more about this subject in posts to come.
Here we are once again with another seasonal change: Winter will soon move into Spring as the Spring Equinox falls on March 20th...equal time of light and dark. Though it hasn't felt much like Winter here in the west this year; we've had pretty much no rain and tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to creep up into the 70's, we do experience change believe it or not. For instance, today the winds are blowing fiercely and it's cool out and last Sunday it was in the 80's, so we do have change, just not extreme change. I'm going to blog about "change" today. How do you feel about "change?" Do you fear it? Are you able to go with the flow? What has been your experience with change? You might be thinking, well that depends on what the change is? True. But, for many, any kind of change brings on a feeling of anxiety. Do you bring on change or do you wait for change to happen to you? We live amongst change constantly. Sometimes the change is abrupt and unwelcome and sometimes it is as simple as the clock ticking away. Sometimes change is the kick we need to make new things happen in our lives that we might not have made otherwise if it were left up to us. You've heard the expression, "a gift in disguise." This is when something happens to us that appears negative at the time, but ends up being a positive experience down the road.
As we move from winter, where we go from inward hibernation to the beautiful awakening of spring; what is it you wish to plant and nurture in your life? What is it that you would like to tend to? New Year's, many people make resolutions that they hope will bring about change, but most often, the change does not last and they fall back into their old ways. Spring is another opportunity to look at what in your "garden" needs pruning, watering, trimming and care. You've heard of "Spring Cleaning." Time to Spring clean your life!" Your gardening tools are you journal, creativity, meditation, solitude, reflection, etc. I will write more about this process in another post.
TIP 1: Take out your journal and write about what in your personal garden needs your attention? Then, if you choose, create a collage with cut-out magazine images that reflect this garden. Glue your images down either in your journal or on a large piece of paper. NOTE: you might want to have your collage reflect going from Winter to Spring...going from dark to light. OR, have it reflect how you envision your garden with the plants representing the areas of your life that you are going to nurture and give attention to. Have fun and just play with the ideas I have written about in this post. Pay special attention to what in your life needs your attention and nurturing during this time of change. Examples might be, your health, your finances, your creativity, your relationships, etc. The ideas are as endless as the seeds you can plant!
Be with the process and have fun!
Recently, I was listening to a talk show on the radio, at least, I think it was on the radio, and they were talking about "Why we choose to suffer." I took notes on the talk and if I remember who I was listening to, I will add it to my blog. But, for now, I do want to write about the idea of suffering since many people seek out therapy to end suffering. For instance, a relationship is causing you pain, a job turns out to be a disappointment, you feel stuck and unhappy with your life or some other experience is causing you to suffer. In life, we want to avoid suffering and pain and we want to embrace pleasure and happiness...no doubt about it, if you had to choose, most likely it would be the pleasure chest! So, is suffering a choice we make, just like sadness, anger, frustration, joy, etc., or is it an unavoidable experience of being human?
Lets say, suffering is unavoidable, then what? Well here's where the talk got interesting. What can we learn about ourselves during times of suffering? It is a perfect time to learn to have compassion for ourselves, especially for people who have a difficult time being kind and gentle t with themselves. Suffering can have us feeling incredibly alone and aloneness triggers all kinds of feelings for most people. I'm a big believer in the idea of curiosity....being curious about ourselves, our reactions, our triggers and our feelings can lead us down a road to a greater sense of awareness about ourselves. What would happen if you actually sat with suffering as though it were something you could hold in your hands? OK, so here is where the creativity comes in. Imagine when you are in a place of suffering that you are holding it in your hands, looking at it, feeling it, and smelling it. What color is it? What shape, texture, size, smell and other characteristic does it take on? If you drew it, how much of the page would it take up? Would it be jagged, smooth, or sharp? You might also explore where in your body you experience your suffering? Get to know your suffering? What triggers it? Loss might be one instigator. Move close to your suffering. Take care of it. Get to know it, respect it and have compassion for it. This way, when it does surface, you do not have to fear it or allow it to scare you; you can be with it and walk beside it.
So, someone gave you a brand new leather bound, or simple journal as a gift, and you're not sure what to do with it or where to begin. Chances are, it might still be sitting on your dining room table or nightstand just waiting to be embellished with your thoughts and feelings. Or, maybe you stare onto the blank pages uncertain of what to write, draw or what warrants a journal entry. I'm here to help.
Here we go...You can write whatever you want in your journal as long as you have a safe place to keep it where family members or room mates won't pry into your sacred psyche. You can also draw, collage, paint and glue things such as movie tickets, a dried flower, horoscope or anything that holds significance for you. A journal is your personal, creative playground that does not adhere to any guidelines or rules. Journals are a creative tool to get to know yourself better and to develop deeper clarity of your thoughts and feelings as they are reflected back to you.
I have been journaling for years. My mother kept a journal and used it as a recount of the days activities and her thoughts. My entries are much more personal than my mother's, including my disappointments, my accomplishments, and my attempt to de-tangle my musings, which at times have me confused and in need of some clarity. I also glue poems that touch me, horoscopes that act as guides to my clairvoyant side, and I draw out my dilemmas and feelings.
It doesn't matter what time of day you journal: morning, noon, or night. If you find staring at a blank page intimidating, I suggest you begin with an opening line that helps get you going, such as, Today I... Or, Here I am, once again, not knowing what to write in my journal, but, if I were to choose one thing that mattered to me today, it would be... I believe journals are meant to be a sounding board for us to share and express aspects of our lives that we may or may not want to share with others. A safe place where censoring is optional; grammar and spelling are optional. And, freedom to be yourself is recommended!
So, go find that new journal, curl up in your favorite spot, pour yourself your favorite beverage, open to the first delicious page and brag, boast, cry, reflect, brainstorm, and rant away!
During the first few weeks of the New Year, we are inundated with news of dieting offers, gym bargains, car deals and for those among us who are self-growth-ers....VISION BOARDS. I happen to love vision boards and have made many of them over the years usually using collage. I don't always wait for a new year to make one; you can create a vision board anytime during the year but, the New Year does provide an official starting point to map out your intentions, wishes, expectations of the year ahead and create a visual reminder of your personal landscape dreams. Basically, you are sending yourself and the universe a snapshot of what you would like to bring into your life for the coming year. They're easy, fun, creative, focused, and simple to make.
What do you need? Very simple:
Quiet moment alone or with a friend.
Light a candle
Add calming music if you wish
And make your favorite drink....
Collage magazine cut-out images or photos
Heavy paper or a board
Choose images that reflect the changes, letting go-of's, wishes, and vision you have for your life for the year. In other words, what you would like to manifest in your life. You can choose to have a theme, such as LOVE, career, relationships, health, etc. Or, you can combine them for one big intention. You can tear or cut your images and clue them to the paper or board. Overlapping, separating or any other unique method you choose. You can make your vision board as big or small as you wish. You can also cut out says to add and if you wish, use colored pencils or pastels or markers to color in the blank space...totally optional. Hang your vision board somewhere where you will be reminded of your vision and reflect on it daily, weekly, monthly, however often you wish. You can also add journal entries about your vision board and how your New Year's intentions are manifesting.
Everywhere I look, friends are unhappy, clients are riddled with anxiety, depression, self-doubt and fear, and life appears dark and without hope. At least that is the message I'm hearing from many. Nothing feels satisfying anymore including relationships, work and the long-term picture looks bleak. I see one of my responsibilities as a marriage and family therapist and art therapist as helping to instill hope into the psyches of my clients and teaching them that they can learn a thing or two about themselves during these challenging times. Since I know all too well about the dark days of life, I feel compelled to share my experiences with others and help them SEE that these challenging times help move us to higher emotional planes. I feel, and so do many spiritual teachers, that the so called dark days are our greatest teachers. That is, if we choose to look closely at our lives and what the darkness is meant to teach us. If you have ever received a diagnosis of a life-threatening or chronic illness, you understand how this news can propel you to take action and re-examine your life. It is a motivator for many to change eating habits, start exercising, reconnect with old friends and repair relationships and hopefully see one's life from an awakened, eyes wide-open perspective. I believe we can view the cloudier days of our lives the same way...as propellers to experience a deeper understanding and respect for ourselves and lives.
Recently, when a good friend of mine asked, if I ever felt like just "ending it all," I had to be honest and reply, "of course." But, I also added, I'm sure glad I didn't follow through on that thought. I would not be the therapist, woman and healer I am today if it weren't for those dark moments of my life. Once I learned to not fear the dark days and to look them straight at them, and to learn from them, understand them and heal the pain, I found myself in a healthier and stronger place. We are taught to extinguish sadness, pain and depression, not use them as teachers. We are taught to run from these
feelings and to pretend they don't exist. What if we took care of them, loved them as part of us and allowed them to be really felt and understood? Imagine what we might learn from them.
What I am suggesting, is the next time you experience emotional pain, try sitting with the feelings; try getting to know them and see them as a guide that can teach you about yourself. Try really taking care of them as if they were an unset child instead of something to extinguish and reject. I would have your journal with you and write about what comes up. Write about what insight you might gain and allow your darkness to speak.
Whenever I hear the phrase, I'm bored, I have a physical reaction! My body grows tense, my eyes roll to the top of my head and I go into attack mode. "What do you mean you're bored?" "Are you kidding me?" With all the amazing and beautiful things in the world waiting to be felt and experienced, you're bored?" It is difficult for me to contain myself upon hearing this statement uttered. Lets just say, one beautiful day, you find yourself mouthing these two words to yourself and you feel as though you are at a standstill not knowing what to do. Lets just say you stumble across a moment like this...what is an intelligent, wise, articulate, funny, imaginative soul to do?
If you have a computer and internet access you have a world of information at your fingertips...I have one word for you: GOOGLE. All you have to do is LOG ON. You don't have to leave your house; you don't have to pull out your wallet; you don't have to call a friend and arrange a date....all you have to do is LOG ON! Once on, GOGGLE! Do you like books, knitting, skiing, dance, gardening, basketball, old cars, stocks? What is it that shakes your soul? What is it that makes you excited? WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT? I find so many people have no passions or interests to fall back on when they have down time. Or, when they lose their job or a spouse dies? Life becomes meaningless for them. They stare blankly into the TV and allow their lives to just tick away.
One way to find out what you are passionate about or or that puts a smile on your face, is remembering what you liked as a kid. It's true. Take a little trip back to your childhood and remember what it was that you enjoyed and spent your time doing. Did you collect bugs? Maybe it's time you ventured out into the wilderness or took a trip to your local park, even cities have parks. How about joining a bird watching group? Is there anything you've been dying to learn, but haven't allowed yourself the time to take out of your schedule to do? Check out your local extension school and sign up for a class that either interests you or that you have no clue about and expand your mind.
There is an endless world out there of topics to get excited about. There is you local government to get involved in. There are volunteer opportunities just waiting to be discovered. There are evening classes to enroll in. There are assertiveness training classes to teach you how to be more in charge of your life. There is the Sierra Club to get you outside and walking....I could go on and on with what is out there and at your fingertips!
Next time you find yourself mouthing the phrase, "I'm Bored," email me and we will can build a plan that will get you on the road to discovering what it might be that will fill your soul or developing a passion. There is something out there just waiting for you to embrace! Here is my email....Sealoverv@gmail.com.
We humans are so interesting! We choose every new year to write our resolutions; we start exercise programs, dieting plans, set out to find mates, and attempt to start anew. What is interesting, is we can choose to do that any day during the year; we can start anew any second if we just put our heart and minds into it. We could choose to alter our perspective on life, on our state of being and how we view anything that crosses our path. I like knowing that I have that power. I like knowing I can see the glass as half full, half empty, or for that matter, completely empty or completely full!
So, how do you see your life? Does your perspective need some tweaking? Is your perspective of your self based on what is going on externally in your life? Have you ever stopped to really get to know yourself and connect to your core? Do you even know your core? That pure essence of who you are? Art is a great way to explore these aspects of ourselves that we may be unfamiliar with. Collage is a beautiful way to start the exploration.
Start cutting out magazine images that reflect aspects of who you are...not necessarily what you like, but deep inside; the parts of you that might include your "shadow" side, which is the part of you that you don't like to reveal to others or that you might be ashamed of or judge. Let them all hang out together and get to know each other. Play with each of their perspectives of life and of you. Glue the images down. Maybe there are conflicting aspects of you: the silly side, the serious side, the outgoing side and the shy side. Get to know them and explore how they have shaped your perspectives on not only life in general, but on YOU. See what changes might need to be made to make your world and how you view yourself less critical and more loving and accepting. Notice the old tapes that need to be deleted. Such as, "I'm too fat;" "I can't be loved unless______." "If it's not perfect...it's not ok." See what you come up with and get to know all of you and how you see the world and yourself! Have fun with the collage and discovering your essence...you might like what you find!