Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leaning Into the Positive

Life always gives us choices. In most situations we have the choice to lean into the negative, see what isn’t working, or get stuck in the obstacles. Or we have the choice to lean into the positive or see what is working or feel grateful.

Learning to lean into the positive takes practice because we tend to naturally go into the other direction. So, how do we do this and make it stick?

Art Therapy Exercise For Leaning Into the Positive

We want to change a behavioral pattern. We have to change it on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. The next time you find yourself dwelling on a negative thought, physically lean to the right (whatever side of your body feels right) and say to yourself one positive thing about the situation (even if you don’t believe it or you have to invent it). Next, remember something that makes you feel grateful or happy. Remember to stay leaning towards the right while you have your positive thought and emotion. Now, if you are not already, remind yourself to be present and in the moment. It is as easy as that. We can lean in any direction that we want to with what life throws at us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Art Therapy and Rebounding

This is a wall in my Art Therapy Studio that I use to work with clients to explore feelings.
We all meet failure at some time in our lives; accepting failure is often very difficult. More challenging is trying to rebound from failure. How do we learn from the experience and get the courage and strength to try again? First, we have to come to terms with the fact that we failed, process the emotions, and resolve the loss. While we are busy healing the loss, we need to somehow keep the passion alive for the project or idea. A part of us needs to stay engaged and confident that the first try did not work, but that does not mean that the book will not be published or the idea will not be accepted. We need to hold both; the ability to process and be with the part of us that is suffering due to the loss or rejection and then also be with and believe in the part of us that does not want to let go of the project or idea and knows that it can be realized. We have to become rebounders. Rebounders can hold onto themselves while making changes.

This can happen by:

1. Maintaining a clear sense of who you are when you interact with others. Knowing what you value and believe, and not defending a false or inaccurate self-picture.

2. Maintaining a sense of perspective about your anxieties and limitations so that they neither drive nor immobilize you.

3. Practicing the willingness to engage in self-dialogue that is necessary for your growth. This includes being with your fears and anxieties.

4. Acknowledging the parts of you that engage in projections and distortions.

5. Tolerating the pain involved in growing; mobilizing yourself toward the growth you value and aspire to; soothing your own hurts when necessary, supporting rather than berating yourself.

Rebounders stay close to their dream, even when their dream meets with rejection.

Rebounders also can regroup quickly. They can rethink, reframe, and revise their project to be accepted. They know that there are many ways to get to the end goal and they learn to tolerate chaos, discomfort and not knowing. By being fluid, flexible and open they learn how to navigate.

Rebounders also have a flexible timetable of when and how their project will be accepted. They know that waiting patiently is part of the game.  This builds resilience and confidence and helps draw them towards the success that they are seeking.

Art Therapy Exercise for Rebounding

First, take some time to gather your favourite art supplies. Then get comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your feet and legs. Take a minute to notice your feet. Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. Press your heels into the floor, then the toes.  Gently press both sides of your feet into the floor. Now rock back and forth on your toes to your heels. Notice if you sense any colour in your feet. Now shift your attention to 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. How is your stomach? Do you sense any emotion there? Bring awareness to your back. What are you noticing there? Is your back tense or feeling relaxed?  Now move to your chest. Can you breath freely? Is your chest open or closed? Notice if your chest is constricted, expanded, or in some other state. Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently release it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. If your hands could be anywhere in nature, where would they want to be?  What would they be touching? Now, bring awareness to your neck, your head. Release any tension in your jaw and neck area. Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, your 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 notice where you sense the part of you that is experiencing strong emotions about the loss. Is there a part of you that responds? As you stay with this part, note what is of concern there. Then gently shift to spend some time listening to the part of you that is still engaged or excited about the project or idea. Take some time to hear from its point of view how it is feeling. If possible, make room to be with both parts of you, the grieving part and the passionate part. When you are ready, gently bring this self focusing session to an end. Now, on the paper show how both parts were revealed to you. You may represent them symbolically, through colour or image. Note the weight, shape and texture of these parts. Note where in your body you are sensing them as you represent them on paper. Are they still communicating to you? To end this exercise ask yourself what one thing you could do today to move forward?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Do You Hold Your Body?

The way we stand, sit, and walk influences how people may see and judge us. We all know that by changing our posture, we can change our emotions and thoughts. Sitting in a curled up or regressed way helps promote feelings of being small, inadequate and being unimportant. Walking with our arms swinging, sitting in a spread out position or running with our arms out wide promotes feelings of power and confidence.

I learned about body language through studying NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). Our bodies have a wide repertoire of ways to communicate. By changing or modifying gestures, skin tones, micro-muscle movements we can convince others and ourselves that we are feeling happy or sad, powerful or weak. Our nonverbal communication often speaks louder than our verbal communication. When someone walks into a room that is what we all see and focus on first. When we first speak to someone we are watching eye movements, breathing patterns and we are studying their posture.

This is important to me as an Art Therapist. My clients come to me because they want change. Change can’t happen if our body keeps repeating the same body postures and micro-muscle movements that lock us into our patterns of depressive thinking, angry emotions or fear. If we change our postures, we can change our thinking and feeling. If one feels safe and confident, one has to hold themselves in a body posture that convinces them that they are in fact safe and confident. Looking and feeling powerful does help give you an inner belief that you are powerful. We can change our body to give others messages, but most importantly we can change our body to give ourselves new messages.

In a group of people we are attracted to others who have rhythms and body movements that we find comforting, stimulating or pleasant. We can do the same thing for ourselves. I love being in my body when I am running. I love watching strong runners cross the finish line with their arms spread wide. I love feeling the strong muscles and strength. It gives me the message that I am healthy and in shape. If there is something you want to change about yourself, mimicking the body movements of a person who acts in the way you want to, helps convince yourself that you can be like that person.

Amy Cuddy in this Ted Talk, brilliantly explains how your body language shapes who you are.   

Try this Art Therapy Exercise for changing Body Patterns.

First, take some time to calm your mind. Do some deep breathing. Now think of a pattern in your life you would like to change. It could be a fear, a way of responding or a thought you have about yourself. Take a few minutes to write or draw this. Now notice your body. How are you sitting? How are you holding yourself? Note what your body posture is when you are focusing on this thought or emotion that you would like to alter.
Now think of someone who you believe does not have this problem or issue. Take some time to stand and walk around the room with the belief that this issue or problem is no longer with you. How are you standing or walking? What is different? Are you looser, more fluid, standing taller? Now draw this image of yourself. Remind yourself to walk or stand in this position often so you can internalize it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails