Friday, April 27, 2012

Art Therapy and Unhealthy Friendships

Five year old clients picture of her friends.

Do your friends take up your time and energy in an unbalanced or selfish way that leaves you feeling drained? Sometimes we enter friendships that appear healthy, but over time they change in ways that may be harmful. If your friend only calls when she/he needs something, that is a clear sign that they do not have your best interest in their hearts. We need balance in relationships, so when you need something and your friend is nowhere to be found—perhaps you don’t have balance.

Some friends always dominate the conversation. If you try to talk about yourself, they appear bored or disconnected from your story. When your friendship is all about the other person, that person may become toxic to you as you slowly lose your voice, and presence when you are around them.

If you notice that you often return home after a date with your friend with a headache or tired that may be a sign that they use your energy. Instead of giving you energy, they drain yours. Check in with your body and see how you are physically responding to your friend.

If your friend makes fun of you, bullies you or gossips about you, she/he is not a friend. Any of these behaviours makes your friend toxic to be around. Do not tolerate this kind of behaviour.

Is your friend always late or changing times and locations? This can often be a bid for power and is a sign that maybe this friend wants to control you. If they act like their time is more valuable than yours, know that this friend may be into game playing and check in with yourself to see if you have the time and energy to engage with such behaviour.

If you have had this friend in your life for a while and feel that they are not good for you on an emotional, intellectual or physical level, you should consider getting some distance from them. If they really are toxic, you should stop seeing them. It is an act of self-love to surround yourself with healthy, caring friends.

Art Therapy Exercise and Unhealthy Friendships

Gather some art supplies and sit. Start by getting comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your feet and legs. Take a minute to notice how your feet are feeling. Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. Notice the chair under your legs and buttocks and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. Bring awareness to your back. Are you sitting in a way that is comfortable and supportive for your back? Now move to your chest. Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. Bring awareness to your neck, and head. Release any tension in your jaw and neck area. Do a body scan and observe what parts of you feel the most energized. Now observe what parts are holding any pain, stress or worry. Spend a few minutes working with helping the parts that are holding tension to become more relaxed and fluid. Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, chest and then resting in the belly area. As you stay Present and aware of yourself sitting in the chair, give yourself a gentle invitation to focus on a friend that you may be concerned about. Take some time to notice where in your body you sense this the strongest, and sit with it for a few minutes. Bring to mind the last time you saw them. Staying present with your body sensations review the material above and ask yourself, “Does this friend enrich my life?” See if you can hear from its point of view, what this part of you has to tell you. You might write down or draw its response. Now while staying in presence, take your art materials and create on your paper what you just sensed in your body. Stay body centred as you continue to move your hand on the paper. Check back to your body to see if any fresh information is emerging. Now ask yourself “ How do I enrich my friend’s life?” You may want to record some of this material. Bring this part of the exercise to a close when you feel ready. Now ask yourself do you need to adjust this relationship, move away from it or stay in it as it is? Create a symbol, write a word or pick one colour to use to bring this exercise to a close.


Elena said...

Great, and timely, post!

Art Therapy London said...
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