Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are You Bored?

I work with some children who use this phrase often. After 15 minutes of being fully engaged in painting or working on a craft out come the words, “I’ m bored”. After 3 minutes into a book that 1minute earlier they were engaged with, “I’m bored”. This, of course is not boredom, it is conditioning. Conditioning by video games and shows that have bright lights and images that rapidly change every few seconds. For these children, what they really mean is they need constant stimulation. They have lost or may not have developed the ability to focus, slow down, and engage and struggle with something instead of turning away.
There are many problems with this, but the one that I am going to discuss is that in order to develop any talent, learn any craft or skill one must embrace, struggle with and work through “boredom” or one does not reach the other side where mastery may be found. How do we learn to not turn away from boredom? How do you keep engaged when everything in you is frustrated, tired, fed up and ready to quit? A few reasons to stay with it could be an overwhelming desire to learn or a strong desire to get better at something. There has to be a drive, desire or strength to push through the want of immediate gratification and dive deeply into the period of hard work. Boredom can mean that we have reached our limits and we now need to keep going even though we may not know where we are going. I know many talented artists that may never reach their potential because they turn away from boredom by partying, getting distracted, and talking about art instead of doing it. You have to believe that you and your struggle are worth it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is Self-Sabotage?

 Self-sabotage is when people engage in behaviour that either hurts them, or gets them into trouble. People use drugs, steal, starve themselves, find and stay in abusive relationships, cheat on their spouse, drive too fast, drink themselves to death, overeat, don't exercise, or push people away.
            As a child, everyone wants to be loved and accepted. Some children receive unconditional love from their parents and are told, "We love you. We want you. We will nurture you." Other children are told either verbally or nonverbal, "We don't want you. You are a bother, a burden.” Children who are not taught coping skills don't learn how to survive in a sometimes hostile and frightening world. Other children are brought up with an unrealistically excessive idea of their own power or to mistrust their power. They can feel totally powerless over situations that occur around them. Having either a sense of too much power or no power can cause children to misjudge situations and hurt themselves in the process.
            Internalization of invisible messages results in people not valuing their own existence. Self-sabotage is the result of an internalized self-destruction wish or an inability to take care of oneself in the world. Their parents and others have often shamed people who feel worthless. They are told they are not good enough. These people may continue to engage in self-sabotaging behaviours to maintain their shame. This validates their feeling that they actually are worthless. It contains the confused message that somehow this self-sabotaging behaviour is keeping one safe when in reality it is doing the opposite. It is a twisted attempt to be accepted, as you believe you are, not as you really are.
            Self-sabotaging people need to heal that part of them that was injured and learn to love, nurture, and validate themselves for who they are.  Healing from shame involves knowing that one is lovable when being authentic. How do you know if you self-sabotage? Here are some examples:

1.     Always bending over backwards to win over people.
2.     Expressing contrived concern for others.
3.     Always trying to smooth out rough edges in uncomfortable situations with others.
4.     Always looking for outside approval.
5.     Always worried if you have upset someone or believing that others may be mad at you and disregarding your own feelings.
6.     Always trying to explain or justify you to others.

If you feel yourself bending to one of these behaviours, you might be readying yourself to go into sabotage. Try to do the following instead of your habitual way of reacting.
1.     Bring yourself into presence. Take a deep breath, step back, and or yawn. Do anything that will wake you up to the present moment.
2.     Next ask yourself if you feel uncomfortable anywhere in your body with what you were about to say or do. Is there a part of you that is feeling afraid?
3.     Check to see if you want to explain, talk too much or do any other behaviour right now that is coming from a self-sabotaging place inside of you.
4.     Stay silent. Being consciously silent helps you stop self-sabotaging. Watch you want to react in your habitual way, but do not give in. Breathe through the desire to talk.
5.     Once you are alone, release the pressure that has built up in your body by not talking by walking fast, painting, running, writing down the experience.
Working in this way helps you identify clearly your habit of self-sabotage, slows down the habit of doing so and helps you regroup so you have the time and energy to act in a different way. What you are trying to do is reclaim your right to your feelings and act authentically. Taking some time to paint or draw situations in which you habitually self-sabotage help you get a clear picture of moments that you unconsciously out of habit. Painting the scene helps bring consciousness to this unconscious part of your life.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Number Five Reason Why You Should See An Art Therapist

 The fifth and final reason why you should see an Art Therapist is because they understand beauty. Many art therapists are practicing artists, appreciate art, view art, and are surrounded by art all day. I would hope most art therapists have a love of and appreciation of art and beauty.

Why is that important to you as a client? Because that means you will be surrounded by art when you go for sessions, you will get opportunities to do your own art and you will be in a beautiful atmosphere, which is healing and adds to your healing process. I have watched many clients engaged with their personal development work through art making discover their talent, which they have then gone on and developed. I have witnessed many clients become more aware and mindful of surrounding themselves with objects that provide aesthetic pleasure, collect works of art that inspire them, and begin attending to the beauty in their environment.

Appreciating art and beauty resources us and adds to our appreciation of nature. I hope you have enjoyed this mini series.


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