Some thoughts on self doubt

We all have it at times. Many of us have it here and there – like a few olives in a salad. Some of us have double helpings of it, on a bed of self doubt, with an extra side of self doubt to really complete the meal.
When we are lost in self doubt we believe it. The voice of self doubt sounds like ‘the truth’. It is like a fish in water not knowing there is anything other than water.
When we can name self doubt, and know there is more to us than the doubt, then we gain perspective. We realise there is also self belief, inner words of encouragement, and determination. We can figure out what triggers our self doubt and on the other hand what helps us feel grounded and positive about our abilities. We can recognise when we are being hampered by self doubt and when it is running the show.
What I am learning again and again is that self doubt can sit alongside competence and amazing value. Having self doubt doesn’t mean anything about our ability to do things. It doesn’t have to stop us, it doesn’t have to define us, and we don’t have to believe or agree with it.

5 things (that might be) stopping you from success

“Don’t wait until to know who you are to get started, the way you figure it out is by making things”
– Austen Klein (who wrote Steal like an Artist)

I’ve been working with coaching clients for two years now helping people get moving towards their wishes.

I love how unique each person is: there are no two exact life stories or sets of passions of strengths. However with the smart, sensitive, creative and multipassionate people I work with (and if you’re reading this you probably fall into this camp too) there are some themes I notice in what blocks they face in taking practical steps towards their long held dream.

1. Your sense of time. As a creative person you might be used to bending and stretching time, falling into pockets of time, and squeezing outrageous abundance out of a short period when you are feeling inspired.

But here’s the thing: time (and your productivity) can’t be expected to deliver such bounty every second of every day.

There will be days when you are doing tasks that are less fun and just do take way longer than you wish they would. Start noticing how long tasks take – not how long you wish they would take. For example ‘updating your finance spreadsheet’ is something you pretend will take 15 minutes but actually takes 3 hours, or ‘making a brochure’ you wish would take half an hour but might actually need to be your main focus for a couple of days. You may not want this task to take so much time, but being realistic about how much time it needs will stop you overscheduling or over committing and will help you give yourself permission to take the time the task actually needs to get done.

If you are still learning the task, or don’t actually know all the steps that it needs feel free to double the time you give yourself to do it – you might need it. Leave the warp speed productivity estimates for the work you really love, and leave plodding time for plodding tasks. Solution: give yourself chunks of time to do things, especially the hard and boring stuff.

2. Fear of being criticised. You want to hit publish on that first blog post but WHO ARE YOU TO HAVE AN OPINION?

You are acutely aware that everyone, from your grannie to that mean girl who never liked you at school, to that awkward guy on the bus will be able to read it and pass judgement on you. They will hate it! They will think you are too mean/ critical/ soppy/ whiney/ happy/ angry/ average/ boring/ spiritual/ emotional/ low-brow/ high-brow/ entitled/ egotistical… They will think you are an amateur/ sell out/ hard nosed bitch/ ruthless bastard/ band-wagonist/ dilettante/ unprofessional…. And whatever else is on your ‘secret fears about myself’ list.

This is deep and painful stuff.

This fear feels like the fear of being rejected, shamed, ostracised. It is the fear of showing our authentic selves and having it not be accepted. It is the fear that we will lose face, reputation, career opportunities, friends or loved ones. This thread usually runs very deep to childhood or whatever situation we first experienced being criticised for who we were, often because others weren’t comfortable with that aspect of themselves or because they expressed their care through criticism or a strong focus on fear and safety, rather than encouragement and love. Going after our own dreams is one sure fire way to come face to face with this stuff.

But please don’t let the fear be the reason you stop.

Get help! What you need is a cheer squad, a tribe, a little safe corner, a mentor or a coach. Speaking these fears out loud to someone who you feel safe with, feeling the pain, shedding a few tears and then taking the tentative tiny baby steps just out of the comfort zone with a trusted other by your side is deep and powerful work. You are rewriting how you see the world – from scary and unsafe and unsupportive to warm, embracing and encouraging. No wonder this is hard to do alone. Solution: feel the feelings and then take safe, baby steps.

3. Your dream has had the enthusiasm dry up and just fear and doubt remains. The dream you had has been sitting on the shelf in the back of the cupboard for so long it no longer looks sparkly and fun but feels like a giant mess of guilt and self doubt. Imagine it cobwebby and covered in dust. It kind of radiates fear when you think of it, and you feel super guilty for leaving it there for so long.

You need to dust off the cobwebs and get a burst of enthusiasm for your dream!

Find someone safe to talk to about the dream. Give yourself space to feel any sadness or guilt or self criticism or any other feelings that have come and settled on it while it was on the shelf. Now let’s get it sparkling again! You need people who see it as absolutely possible, doable and just exactly the kind of thing someone like you might do. When you light your dream up with enthusiasm and sense of possibility again it is a pleasure to be around it and start taking action towards it. Solution: do what it takes to make your dream feel like a happy place again.

4. All or nothing thinking about research or prep has hijacked you. Does this one sound familiar? ‘I can’t possibly start my book because I haven’t finished all the research and I’ll have to research everything so actually I’ll never be ready to start’ or ‘I will never be able to start a business because I would need to do elleventy billion courses first and I don’t have time’.

Do you? Do you really need to do ALL the things?

Can you cheat? Can you just ask three people who know a lot about that thing and see what they say? Can you find one good article that reviews a bunch of stuff and just decide from that? Can you do three hours of research and then start? Sometimes we set up an imaginary perfect scenario as an excuse for why we can’t start – because no busy human has the time or energy to follow our imaginary regime we then have a great excuse to never start.

Imagine you HAD to start tomorrow. What is the bare minimum research or preparation or whatever it is that you could do today? If you reaallly had to? Do that! Then start. And do more along the way as you need it. You’ll have better questions to ask once you get some hands on experience and real life under your belt anyway, so your learning will be richer and more targeted. Solution: don’t believe your hype, you know enough already, just start.

5. Your old mask doesn’t have room for the new you. If you want to BE something but you don’t see yourself ever doing that thing it can be hard to make the shift to owning that part of yourself.

You want to write / sing/ paint/ design/ build / connect but you don’t see yourself as ‘the type of person who…’ (does that thing). Your old identity doesn’t have room in it for this new part of yourself and it resists the introduction of the new.

Try doing a bunch of things that will help you believe that you are the kind of person that does (your thing).

Painting? Go to classes, go to galleries, read books about painting, share your work, tell people you paint. Before long you will believe it. Running marathons? Get outside in your running gear, read fitness magazines, listen to podcasts about running, run around the block. Eventually you will own this thing ‘running’ and see yourself as some one who runs. You can be a beginner, be still learning, be a dabbler but you need to find a way to glue this thing to your sense of YOU. Doing the thing is easier when we don’t have internal resistance because it doesn’t align with our self image. Solution: do all the things you think a writer / painter/ rock climber / business person does, it will help you absorb the new identity with more ease.

These are some of the most common blocks I see stopping people from taking action towards their most heart felt dreams. What else? What do you notice stops you? And more importantly how do you overcome it?

I’d love to hear what resonates most with you from this blog. Comment below or send me an email!

Mental health moments

The problem with our critical inner voice is that it’s very easy to believe it.

At the time, when it’s loud and convincing it’s easy to believe.

Mine sometimes says things like this:

– you are so fat, all those wellness people are judging you

– you have nothing interesting to say, and you’re awkward, and no one likes you

– you’re so weird and not saying enough. They can all tell. They think you’re stupid

Seriously. These exact words. The last time they flared up I was at a networking event. It started out well, I was feeling positive and a bit apprehensive. I started ok, I did, but then I fell out of a conversation and things got self conscious and weird.

(This is despite being aware of it, despite years of therapy, despite being trained in counselling.)

Once that narrative starts up nice and loud I tend to get swept up in it. After all if those things are true, I should probably just slink off home – right? I should probably never go out. I should probably not try talking to anyone because they won’t enjoy my weirdness rubbing off on them.

I left in a bit of a funk – here I was fat, weird, awkward and everyone knew it.

Later, when the mood sweeps by, the clouds shift, a blue sky emerges, I feel fine. I feel calm and OK with myself and think I’m no more awkward or weird than anyone else. I resume normal programming. I enjoy socialising and even meeting new people. I become the person who helps other people not feel awkward in groups by talking with them, or introducing and connecting people.

So these experiences, and the voice in my head that convinces me I’m not worthy, actually helps me be finely attuned to other people and social dynamics. It helps me know fully in my body what uncomfortable feels like and to absolutely want to help make situations like this more caring and accessible to others.

These experiences also mean that I understand clients who struggle with anxiety, and strive to create a safe space in my one on one work and in groups where clients can be honest about our inner voice and how unhelpful it can be sometimes. Because this inner voice, this loop / mindset/ inner critic is an issue for most people. Not just people seeking help through therapy, but most people who are going about their lives are held back at some time due to doubts and fears that often express themselves as negative self-talk.

It comes up in art therapy sessions, it comes up in coaching, and so it should; because our inner scripts are often our invisible limits – they can shape what we will and won’t try, they tell us strong stories about what we deserve or what it is possible to experience in life.

How about you? Do you have any bitter, hurtful or challenging narratives that pop up when you are stressed or feeling low? Have you worked to replace them with kinder narratives about yourself? Do they give you insight or empathy you can take back into the world? Have you ever worked to change one and replace it with something more useful?

First year of business – Systems overload

So many freaking systems.

That’s what I remember from my first year of business.

So many decisions about software and so many process that I realised I didn’t have, and so many records to keep.

Imagine the most horrified emoji face you can muster. Yes, that’s how it felt.

After all, I just wanted complete freedom and flexibility and creative potential, regular income, great coffee and inspiring collaborators and no paperwork whatsoever. Is that so much to ask??

Apparently here in the real actual world, yes.

So what did I do?

To start with every time I found yet another system or process that I didn’t have that it seemed everyone else had I died a little bit on the inside. ‘Seriously?? More things to do??” I wailed in my inside waily place. Mostly I wrote them down somewhere and lost the list and found it again with pangs of guilt weeks later. I would have these moments of elevated hope, when talking with someone who actually had and uses these systems – hope that I would do the follow up work and that I would somehow become a new person who was excited about tidy completely efficient systems. But this would usually wear off within a few hours and I would return to my usual lumpish disinterest in such detailed admin things. Once I learnt about them I could see their benefit and how they would help me. Sometimes the concept of it all excited me. But hand on my heart the doing or setting up of them never ever excited me. Each time it would sink to the bottom of the to-do list like a marble in a fish tank.

I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants, random and messy.

Part of the avoidance came from not knowing. It’s super hard working in a vast wasteland of unknowns and risk. Not knowing the territory it can be tempting to to venture out. What? I have to get out of my comfortable chair and walk though the potential for confusion and regret?

But what I learnt over time is that it settles down. At first I honestly thought there were ONE MEEEELLION scheduling systems for me to choose from. Eventually it felt like just 3. Eventually I just chose one and when that one felt not quite right I chose another one.

Same as an invoicing and book keeping set up – I just ended up choosing one because my coach had worked with it. And it will do for now until I move onto the one that costs more but I plan to master soon.

So know this.

A) If you don’t super love this stuff you are not alone.

B) Overwhelm is a self-perpetuating panicky thing that really you could better do without.  If you are learning something new and drowning in options try not to compound it by shrieking things at yourself like ‘Oh my gosh everyone else knows what they are doing! I must be a complete loser! When will I just make a decision! I have to make a decision! I can’t make a decision!’. Find some way to take the pressure. Unless the wheels are falling off today from not having it, give yourself permission to not think about it for 3 months. Maybe you have too much other stuff going on and not enough information to make a good decision just yet.

C) You don’t have to be using every cool app and all the best most efficient software to also be offering something of value to the world. I have worked with some AMAZING coaches and empathetic, generous, insightful healers who use less tech than me. Did I get any less from the session just because there was something old skool in their bookings system or they aren’t all over social media? Not at all.

D) So what if you’re messy. I am: I really really am. I often wish I wasn’t (because I dream of being somehow more slick and stylish and having vast tundra-like surfaces and spaces with lots of artful throw rugs) but plenty of time I barely even notice because I am just a happy little fish swimming in creative mess. YOU CAN STILL RUN A BUSINESS if you are messy. YOU CAN STILL OFFER VALUE if you are messy. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO have a bare desk, or shiny laundry, or straightened thighs or skinny hair or posh to-do-list like the woman you read about in the Sunday paper to make a go of things. You really don’t. Books have been written in tracksuit pants and policies drafted with baby food in hair. You can have chipped and shitty nail polish and still be strong and awesome. You can not know what the heck to do about X or Y this week and still know a lot about Z.

E) You’ll make a decision when you need to. When it becomes more of a pain in your butt to have no system, or the time you are spending doing something manually starts to do you head in – you will change!

F) Decisions don’t always happen how we think they should. Sure I know all about ‘proper’ decision making. I could bore you senseless with talk of cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis and deliberative valuation. I could! But I wont! because we’re friends and friends don’t let friends do MCA. Just joking. What I would say is this: we are not robots and we rarely make decisions the way we actually think we do. So it might be that after WEEKS of telling yourself you ‘should’ read all the fine print on three different online options for doing something very fancy and necessary in your business, and that you ‘should’ then find three different people who have used each one and interview them and make a table listing all the… whatevers… what you ACTUALLY do is wake up one morning and absent mindedly watch a you tube video about one of them while eating a piece of toast and then think ‘oh that doesn’t sound so bad’ and then download it while you sip your tea and watch a youtube video about a turtle that is friends with a kitten and then kind of sort of make an account and give your credit card details. AND THAT’S OK. If you start using it and it was better than before and it cuts all the anxiety and you can always stop and use another thing later – BLOODY BRILLIANT.

So that’s my wise words on overwhelm from tech choices. Basically just: ‘yes, you might have it, don’t worry I did too. It kind of goes away if you ignore to long enough. And maybe you kinda know the answer already.’

(Don’t worry, that’s not how I do MCA’s.)

Tips for doing your creative thang in the New Year

Do you plan to start doing more of something creative next year?

Here are 7 simple tips that I find help me keep my own creative practice front and centre in my life:

1. Get your tools ready. This doesn’t mean putting off your project until you’ve bought five million new pens or a new violin. Nope, just make a pragmatic decision to use the tools you have, and go find them, and put them somewhere you can get at them easily. I have a tray on a sideboard in my kitchen where I keep pens, glue sticks and paper to work on mixed media projects so they are ALWAYS easy to find, and I can even do a bit while the kettle boils.

2. Choose the smallest step. As Barbara Sher says, aiming high can debilitate us when we are starting out. Instead choose a super small step that you will commit too – it’s less likely to fire up your resistance. Eg. play one scale each day on the piano. Write one verse for a song. Spend 3 minutes drawing. Once you start you will probably go longer, but the important thing is to not be daunted by the task, while you build up your confidence.

3. As well as a time or effort limit, try choosing a narrow project to get you started. ‘I will be more creative’ is a terrible goal – it’s woolly and huge and feels daunting and kind of never-ending. So for example rather than ‘do more photography’ (how much is more? when will you start? what will you photograph?) try instead ‘I’ll take one photo a day this week’ or ‘I’ll take one photo a day of a flower while on my morning walk, for 10 days’, or ‘this week I’ll pick up my camera once a day before 9am and take a photo of the most interesting thing I can find around the house’. It almost doesn’t matter what it is, just start something, and make it something specific. This will get you moving.

4. Know that you are learning. Treat yourself kindly and with encouragement like you would treat a small child trying something new. No one leaps out of the womb playing symphonies. Everyone – now matter prodigious – starts somewhere. Everyone is a beginner when they start. The only way to get more technical skills is to do more of the thing you want to do – and be ok with the stumbling beginners’ lines, or screechy notes.

5. Find a tribe. It might be a group of musicians who jam in the park, a choir, a class, a meetup group, a dance circle, a Facebook group of beginner sketch artists. Find people who seem kind, open to beginners, helpful and encouraging. DO NOT go find the technical experts who despite their great accomplishments are highly critical, competitive or judgemental of beginners. You deserve kindness and support. Fine people who will cheer you on and accept you where you are.

6. Practice being your inner cheer squad. Now this is a bit dorky to admit but I have come to develop, over many years, some almost automatic encouraging phrases that pipe up now when I try something new or hard. I say to myself ‘well done’ or ‘nice work’ or ‘good try’. These come up as a way to comfort myself when I am out of my comfort zone and encourage myself to take the next step. If you grew up with more fearful or anxious voices around you the chances are you have internalised them. You might need to practice saying these kinds of encouraging phrases to yourself as you work, and they might feel very odd at first. Stick with it because it is an investment in your creative future. And the flip side is…

7. Know that your inner critic might pipe up and tell you mean and fearful things about how awful and incompetent, how pretensious, how unskilled or cruddy you are inside your own head. Know that this is normal, common, and doesn’t mean you should stop. It means you are stepping out into brave new territory, you are stretching, you are growing. The more you can quietly ignore those voices and keep doing your creative thing, the more you will connect with the absorption, joy and focus, perhaps the playfulness and even sense of accomplishment that you get from making something yourself.

May the coming year be a fabulously creative year for you!

Reader question: How to tackle questions about your art from friends and family

I always get these kind of questions from friends and family: “What do you want to do art for if you aren’t an artist?” and the ubiquitous trio, “What good is that? How can you make money with that? Can you sell it?”. What should I tell them?

I hear you. If you are the black sheep of the family or others don’t enjoy making things like you do this might come up – especially in the holiday period if you lug a sketchbook with you to outdoor gatherings, or are busy taking up-close photos of Christmas lunch.  Well. I don’t know your friends and family so I cat be sure what will work to help them understand you better, but here are some answers I just made up – I hope they help!

“Some people knit or sew or birdwatch, I draw”

“Art is like having a hot bath – relaxes me and washes away the day.”

“Humans have been making art for thousands of years – long before there were galleries and agents. I’m continuing that tradition.”

“Who says I’m not an artist?”

“Art helps me feel good about life, and process my feelings and make sense of what happens in the world.”

“Would you ask why would you want to bake a cake if you’re not a full time pastry chef?”

“I think making art is part of staying healthy. It’s like the gym for my hands and brain. I’m just stretching my creativity muscles and staying fit on the inside.”

“Aw you know.. art makes me feel good, and doesn’t hurt anyone. There are plenty worse ways to spend my time.”

“You know how some people sing in the shower because it makes them feel good? That’s like me playing with clay – it just feels good, even if no one else sees it or I’m a bit off tune”

“I’m teaching myself some great new skills with acrylic right now – I love learning”

“Making art saves me money – I decorate my home AND entertain myself for the cost of just crayons.”

“I could make money from it by selling it or teaching it but right now I’m happy working in job at the (blah blah) and doing this just for love.”

” I prefer to make things as a hobby rather than just buy things. I think it’s better for the environment if I do less shopping and spend my time honing my skills instead.”

“I could sell it but I choose not to right now, I’m focusing on doing it for the joy of it.”

“How can you put a price on happiness? Some people would pay top dollar to have the kind of fun I have when I’m making art.”

“I love making things with my hands, it feels good. That’s good enough reason for me.”

Some of these answers are a bit cheeky, a bit provocative even, but I want to give you permission to gently question the questioners too if you have that kind of relationship.

You might even want to try having the conversation in your imagination through journaling. To do this, first write out the kind of comments you’re scared of hearing, then write out all the responses that you can think of, from angry, to cheeky, to witty, to reasonable, to heartfelt. Maybe even let your non dominant hand do the writing back and as you write feel the feelings that come up. Be angry, let tears flow. Keep writing until the emotions feel like they have passed through. Then go make yourself a cup of herbal tea or go for a walk and let the feeling of standing your ground and knowing your truth sink in.

You could also just try making a long mega list for yourself in your journal: ‘I love making art because’ or ‘I’m allowed to do what I love because…’.

The more open hearted joyful answers might be easier to give when you remember the pleasure that making brings you.

I also find that when we doubt ourselves it feels much harder to be questioned by others. When we feel sure in ourselves that what we do is ‘worthwhile’ / ‘allowed’ answering questions like this becomes much less threatening. So maybe practice saying and believing some of these answers yourself, as well as sharing them with others.

How do you answer this question? Share your ideas!

Messy and OK

I want to talk about embracing our imperfections.

I have gone a long way from my early days in consulting where I thought I needed to ‘know’ everything and was terrified with not knowing the right things.

It felt like there was a vast and ever changing set of technical areas I was meant to be across, and for my highly creative, highly intuitive brain that doesn’t like memorising that was hard. Layer onto that anxiety and my inability to ask for help and I was a hot mess of fear on the inside while I continued to deliver more and more work at the standard I expected of myself. I frequently felt out of my depth and frequently worried that I was not ‘enough’.
Fast forward ten years and quite a bit of therapy later – and here I am running my own business in a completely different field. I have worked through and grown out of some of the old fears (thankfully) and life is far more peaceful now as a result. However I still notice a set of ‘shoulds’ emerging in my brain around work.

For example, I sometimes catch myself judging my messy desk and non linear way of working and thinking it is a ‘flaw’ – some deep character flaw that if I fixed would make my life better. I can feel anxious (not about the mess, I’m quite comfortable with a messy desk) at the thought that I am a messy person. There is some script that says ‘oh no! You’re not good enough like this. You need to change and be more tidy, predictable, ordered, and less exuberant’. And sometimes I believe this script and makes me feel despair. Because how am I meant to change this way that I am most comfortable in the world? And if I need to change this part of myself to be ‘successful’ what does that mean for my life?
So instead of running with these thoughts I notice the script and practice reminding myself that in fact I am fine as I am. I am happy as I am. I’ve achieved a lot as I am. I am intuitive and deeply connected with my energy levels, whims, opportunities and this is just as valid a way of working as being very orderly and linear.
I try to create more encouraging inner scripts that say things like ‘hey that’s ok, I have a super orderly mind, that’s why I can handle a bit of chaos on the outside’ or ‘oh well creative people are often messy’. I remind myself of my mentor Barbara Sher and how she says that you can be lazy and in a bad mood and still get what you want. That you can outsource the bits you suck at and focus on what you rock at. These gentle, encouraging messages help chip away at the old beliefs that I need to be ‘perfect’ (whatever that is) to be ok.
Do you have parts of yourself that you despair at and judge? Is there a more accepting way you could speak about them to make room for them?

 

Are you messy and OK like me? Or maybe super clean & tidy and OK?

Loud and OK?

A procrastinator and OK?

A bit of a control freak and OK?

A bit anxious and OK?

Kind of grotty and OK?

Forgetful and vague and OK?

Shy, a little bit awkward and OK?

Let’s celebrate all our OK-ness together!

 

Know your gatekeeper

Who stands at the gate stopping us from embarking on our most important creative adventures?

You can be very proficient. Good at doing a hundred things. Confident at doing a hundred more. And yet… there can be one thing that feels off limits. Way too hard. Likely impossible.

You are equally attracted to it and repelled by it.

‘I. Must. Write.’ part of you says, with gritted Clint Eastwood teeth.

‘I. Must. Not. Write!!!’ a shrill Lauren Bacall yells with hands in the air.

Yes. No. Push. Pull. The urge to act. The urge to not act.

No wonder you stay stuck. It’s not laziness, it’s just physics – two equal and opposite forces butting heads against each other, and you, the meat* salad in the too-tight sandwich with your insides spilling out all lettucey and over the place.

Likely you have an inner visionary, who can see the project, feel the project, wants in on the project. And then you have also an inner gatekeeper, who stands at the threshold of the project, hands on hips, saying ‘What you? Coming in here, with those shoes? Nope, I don’t think so’.

Now these gatekeepers look different for different people, and the words they say to us are different:

  • Yours might say ‘people in this family don’t play music – life is hard and serious and needs proper attention, so just you get back to doing something useful thanks very much’. 
  • Mine might say ‘there’s no point trying to print fabric because it’s all been done before and you’re just going to be disappointed when people don’t like it and you realise you’ve made something not very good.’
  • That woman who works in the shop up the road might have one that says ‘only ball-breakers become businesswomen, you’re too nice, you’d be eaten alive, you’re better off working for someone else than going out on your own.’
  • Your friend on social media who loves art but never makes any might have one that says ‘aaaah if you paint beautifully people will notice you and you will be weird and different and life will feel uncomfortable so just don’t even think about that’.
  • The guy siting next to you on the bus might have one that says ‘look, I think just between you and me no one will like what you make so let’s just avoid all that laughter and derision and horrible reviews in the Times and not bother trying to make films’.

On and on and on. These gatekeepers talk to us in voices of ‘let’s not bother’, ‘who are you to try’, ‘it’s not ok for you to be doing this’, ‘you don’t have what it takes’, ‘life wont be safe anymore if you do this’, ‘people wont like you any more if you do this’….. on and on and on.

And beyond them, our gatekeepers and those giant double barred gates they keep locked, we sense glimmers of the gold of our projects – finally embarked upon, finally experienced.

—–

Reflection questions:

What is it that feels really charged and dangerous for you to embark on? Which creative endeavours feel full of dread and portent?

Are you aware of your inner gatekeeper? Have you listened carefully with curiosity to what it says, or written it down in your journal?

Have you ever imagined it as a character and wondered what it’s motivation is? Are you aware of what it is trying to protect you from? Have you listened to see whose voice it reminds you of?

 

*I don’t eat meat so I figure my metaphors should be brought along for the ride as well

What I wish I could say to every person in therapy

What I want to say to clients who have experienced trauma and are coming to me for art therapy:

You are wounded, not damaged – there is a difference. Wounds are something that have happened to you, not who you are. Wounds can heal.

Just because you feel worthless, doesn’t mean you are worthless, and these feelings can change.

These feelings are real and overwhelming but this is not how you will always feel.

You are not ‘crazy’ for feeling grief and loss and self doubt and pain.

You’re not a failure because these feelings are still here.

You are strong – you have survived and you are still here. You are in counselling – you are taking steps to make things better.

You can feel better, things can get better – there is hope.

You are not selfish for being here, talking about yourself – this is hard work, it hurts, avoiding it is easier, you’re here because you care about having good relationships, doing well in the world, feeling ok in the world. There’s nothing selfish about wanting that.

You are trying to shift your patterns of thinking and your own belief structures and sometimes your view of and relationship with your family. This is huge work that no-one around you may even recognise or be familiar with.

I recognise how much work this is, how undone you can feel in the midst of it as old pains are remembered and old feelings felt. As best you can, be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for this work that you are doing. As best you can, trust in the process.

You are unique – I don’t know how it feels to be you, but I can listen and try to understand. Together we might help you see yourself more clearly or with fresh eyes too.

I am here with you, we will go on this journey side by side and I will do my best to accept you exactly as you are, with kindness, and no expectation that you should be anything other than you are.

We may work together briefly or for a longer time, and I trust that whatever you choose will be right for you. A lifetime has many steps in it, and even a short journey taken with another can leave lasting ripples, or so it has been for me in my life.

I believe that you are on a path of healing, that something inside you is unfolding, and that you are oriented towards growth. I also believe you have the wisdom of the universe packed deep inside you, and that through facilitating art, meditation and empathetic interpersonal exchange I can help you access this wisdom. I don’t ask or require that you believe this, but I hold this belief deeply inside myself and it anchors me in our work together.

Even if you can’t see it right now, I see the beauty and wisdom and good in you.


Work with me? Contact me to discuss whether we are a good fit for one on one sessions, or whether group work might suit you better.