Using Art to Move Your Life

{Not all sharing is a good thing. An alley wall full of chewed up gum.}

I’m currently taking Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection Life Class. That along with twice a day walks, listening to Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free Destiny meditation and cutting out refined and processed carbs has completely changed me inside and out. It’s slowly lessening the gap between who I am on the inside and the me I show the world.

One of the things that has specifically shifted is my intention of being authentic, expressing my true self and using artistic expression and creativity to push me forward. That sometimes means dragging a paintbrush across a canvas, decorating a room, or writing down a poem. Sometimes I share it here. Other times I hide it away in a book.

When do you share and when do you keep things to yourself?

In Brown’s class, she discusses what it means to be vulnerable. Sharing what we feel is vulnerable is one way we release shame. {Kind of like this poem I wrote here.} The difference with sharing too much and sharing enough depends on your ability to be okay regardless of the feedback.

The same thing may happen if you’re deciding whether to share something deeply personal with the world. Maybe it’s a dream, a secret, a trauma, an amazing accomplishment, a fear…Whatever it is feels terrifying to share. But secrets can eat you up from the inside. The only way to freedom is through reaching out. The key is to be very discriminative about who you choose to share what to.

I’ve made this mistake too many times in entrusting my precious thoughts, feelings and dreams to people who couldn’t hear it so they a) criticized it b) tore it apart c) told others about it. In the end, expressing my dreams felt dangerous and left me feeling wounded. What I learned in the process it that if I could use art and creativity to work my way through what felt hard and personally dealt with it, then I had the inner strength to share the work with those I loved, trusted and felt safe around. And that in return, felt wonderfully healing.

These days, social media makes sharing all too easy. When we’re pissed at a friend, a relative or a boss, it’s so easy to vent but so hard to take back what’s been sent.

Here’s my suggestion.

The next time you’re going through a rough situation. Put a pause on blogging, updating and tweeting to the world. Instead open up a journal, write down your thoughts or take a pen, crayons, pencils, paint and draw it in on a canvas. Then when you’re ready and not depending on what others have to say about it, share it with those who are near and dear to your heart.

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It’s Not Them. It’s You!

{image via The Urban Slant}

{image via The Urban Slant}

The hardest thing to do, which is also the most life-changing, is to take responsibility for your life. This means that you look at everything going on right now, not as evidence of bad luck or misfortune, but as the decisions that led you up to this point.

It is not about self-blame or self-pity. You may indulge in both for awhile. You may need to. But to truly grow as a person and be happy, you need to empower yourself. That takes seeing your life as it is not colored by someone’s bad choices, your parents’ mistakes or hard luck.

When it comes down to it, it’s so much easier to blame someone else than to understand, have compassion for, and be aware of what you did to yourself.

It was a hard look at my own life that made me realize this. It took years for me to wake up. I saw that the company I chose to surround myself with, the situations I put myself in and the life that I used to lead were the results of bad choices stemming from a low self-worth. It’s also hearing a quote by Theodore Roosevelt spoken aloud by author, professor and public speaker Brené Brown on Super Soul Sunday that made things sync for me.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

It’s not bad luck that led to moments of insecurity and self-doubt when it came to following my dreams. I realized that I chose people in my life who reinforced a long-held belief that I could not write, that I was not a good enough writer, and that I would never live the life of my dreams. I saw a trail of critics who validated what I was feeling internally. When I finally lifted myself out of the negativity, I saw that I was the one who was putting myself on the line, risking everything, and being vulnerable by following my dreams. The people I listened to were simply good at being on the sidelines, feeling courageous in their critiques.

I say this because you may be in the same boat as me. You might be struggling, working hard, dealing daily with people who don’t support your dreams. You will encounter this whenever you strive for a non-traditional life. Don’t make things harder on yourself by surrounding yourself with negative, non-supportive people.

Happiness and success come when your insides match your outsides. When you notice that the people you spend the most time with are loving, understanding and genuinely care about you, then you’ve done it! You’re on the road to the life you were meant to live.

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The Things That Scare You Most

{flickr photo}

It’s Halloween guys. Whether you’re choosing to celebrate the season in costume, passing out candy, or being an old fuddy-duddy like me and doing nothing, it’s hard not to be cognizant of theme of the holiday. F-E-A-R!

It’s my nemesis and my bestfriend.

It alerts me to baggage I need to work on, lessons I still haven’t learned and situations I should stay out of.

Without the fear factor nudging me toward challenging opportunities and away from dicey situations, I might not be here today. Seriously.

Try being a private investigator for a year and you’ll realize the necessity of true fear in helping to navigate life. That’s the good type of fear. The bad types of fear are the unnecessary worries that actually block you from your fear o’meter. It makes it difficult to wade through your baggage to identify what’s really scare worthy and what’s not.

{Nothing’s creepier than a graveyard except maybe a graveyard at night.}

The Difference Between Fear That Helps You and Fear That Makes You Stuck

When I was a PI, my boss taught me that real fear is the stomach dropping feeling, an intuitive knowing that something’s not quite right. It’s not necessarily a big, “I’m going to die” moment. It’s a hint, a thought, an unsettling feeling that someone or something feels unsafe. That’s the life saving features of good fear.

On the other hand, there are these fears:

What if so and so doesn’t like me?

What if they laugh at me?

What if my work really sucks?

What if I blow it?

What if make it?

These fears keep you from pursuing your dreams. I should know. I’ve let them rule my head for far too long.

These are the worries that sabotage your success. It’s why I’ve taken ill-fitting jobs, why I stayed in them, and why I messed up amazing opportunities in the past. All because there was a little really scary voice that said: “You’re not good enough!”

The only way to get around them is to address them right where they are. Ignoring them just won’t work. You can tell yourself all the reasons why the above scary statement is not true. Argue that there are people who love you, you have enough emails that disprove it, and accolades to demonstrate the contrary.

Or you can dig deeper and figure out where this statement started from. Who said it? Why did they say it and how did it affect you?

I’ve realized that sometimes reoccurring negative statements don’t disappear until we listen to what it’s saying. There’s something from your past lurking, haunting your present that needs addressing. Perhaps, it will never entirely disappear. But you can choose to ignore it, address it or accept it just as it is-the vulnerable part of yourself that just needs a little love and attention.

That’s how I deal with my scary side of myself. It never gets an opportunity to control my life or sabotage my efforts anymore.

How about you?

How have you learned to take control of your inner fears?


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