Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Art Therapy Exercises for Working with Self-Talk

A client's image for her Perfectionist voice

Thoughts help shape our future. Self-talk is how we habitually talk to ourselves. Sometimes it is kind and other times it can be harsh. We all have different styles or ways in which we talk to ourselves.

1. The Worrier:  The self-worrier often anticipates the worst. She may create grandiose images of potential failure or catastrophe. She is always vigilant, watching with uneasy apprehension for any small symptoms or signs of trouble. To help the worrier, access a part of you that is compassionate so you can reassure the Worrier within you that all will be okay. Take your sketchbook and draw your Worrier. Try to think of three things that would help her feel less tense.
2.   The Critic:  The self-critic is the part of you that is constantly judging and evaluating your behaviour. She is often good at pointing out flaws and limitations. She compares you with others and emphasizes your weaknesses. To help the critic within you, remind her of how unique, successful, brilliant and creative you are. Take your sketchbook and draw your Critic. Try to think of three things that would help her feel more secure. 
3.  The Victim: The inner-victim feels hopeless and helpless. She believes that nothing will change and perceives insurmountable obstacles between you and your goals. To help the victim within you, make a list of all the people who support, believe in, and love you. Take your sketchbook and draw your Victim. Try to think of three times you were successful and/or times when you turned a negative experience into a positive one.
4.  The Perfectionist:  The inner-perfectionist pushes and goads you to do better. She sees your efforts as not good enough.  The inner perfectionist pushes you into stress, exhaustion, and burnout in pursuit of its goals.  She has a tendency to try to convince you that your self-worth is dependent on externals such as acceptance from others and money. To calm the inner perfectionist try using the mantra “I am good enough as I am.” Draw your perfectionist. Try to think of three times that you felt good about yourself in the last week or month.

When we are hearing these parts of us, we often lose sight of our objectivity and our whole self. Be aware of situations that are likely to trigger these parts or voices and stay Present with yourself instead of dropping into or becoming emerged in one of these parts.
Any time when you are depressed, anxious, discouraged, and feeling guilty, ashamed or embarrassed can trigger these thoughts. Disrupt your train of negative thoughts by taking some deep abdominal breaths. Stay Present and compassionate with yourself and try some of the exercises above.


Carole said...

Well, the critic talks to me most often while I'm painting. "you can't paint, you have no talent, who do you think you are using that expensive canvas......etc"

I will try your suggestions and see what happens. Maybe I could start a sketchbook called "The Inner Critic."

Thanks Karen.

Karen Wallace said...

Hello. Good idea Carole, let me know how it goes. Hugs Karen

Just Like Heaven said...

Great information. Thank you!

NynArt said...

Hi Karen,

I removed my Google blog today because of the launch of my brand new website: www.nynart.com

Is it okay I put a link on my website to your inspirational Art Therapy Reflections blog?



Karen Wallace said...

Nynke, Hello. Yes please do. Warmly, Karen


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