Working with anxiety in a creative way

transforming anxiety

We have many parts within us. Our personality consists of many different qualities. Some parts are at play more actively than others, but that is not to say that if we display, e.g. unemotional behaviour or aggressive ways of interacting, we are devoid of empathy and sensitivity. We simply behave in a certain way because we learnt that behaviour in order to feel safe, survive or be liked. We engage with a certain way of being to gain something. Very often behaviour is based on how we think about something, or rather learnt to think. It might or might not be true. Therapeutic relationship is there not only to try and redefine how one thinks, but also through a relationship look at patterns of behaviour.

From a Transpersonal psychology perspective and my strong belief we are all ‘Whole’ essentially, however through life experiences parts of us get distorted, lost, hidden or rejected. I always say to clients that there is nothing ever wrong with a person/them, it is only that parts of them got a bit lost, broken or distorted depending on what they are experiencing. All of the person is accepted and perceived as a whole. We never want to abandon, reject or try and get rid of anything within us however uncomfortable it feels or negative it appears. Those parts more than anything need our love and attention and the work is to heal those parts by paying attention, listening, engaging with full acceptance and compassion and collect them back into the whole.

Working with anxiety this week the same idea of wholeness underpinned a creative activity where two parts were engaged in a cycle of behaviour deemed as negative and titled as anxiety, which then followed by a panic attack, shame and feeling down. There was a sense of powerlessness about it yet when a client drew a picture of the place where the unpleasant feeling would initially often surface it looked a beautiful golden ball of light, similar to the Sun. When they drew the second image that followed the initial feeling (the image of the Sun) that looked controlling and negative. The sun looked weakened in comparison when it is the Sun that is the place of potential, strength, security and place of belonging. Solar plexus (where the Sun resides) area is our power house, potential and security, our identity in the world.

I asked my client to add something to the image of the Sun to ‘make it feel better’. What did it need to feel less vulnerable, as the client described it, so a more empowering dialogue was possible between my client and the Sun when the feeling came up? They drew a blue circle around it – emotions, safety, and container, a part of the client weakened and abandoned to the mercy of the fierce image above it. It was easy for the other image to control the Sun. The work was to empower the Sun and transform a relationship with it from negative and weak to positively energizing and heart felt.

Using drawings with anxious clients can disengage the mind, which often tells us what we need to do and why and it can feel controlling. We learn to succumb to the mind and create an automatic way of thinking about things, so there is only one route that is available disregarding all the other possibilities. When we quieten the mind and engage with our bodies, where all our emotions live, we witness something much deeper, parts of ourselves that need our attention. Feelings often come up and connect us back to ourselves.

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