Therapy

Self-care is about giving the best of you rather than what’s left of you - Wild Art Therapy

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“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

When I worked in the NHS we were always told that when faced with an emergency situation we should always make sure that we were safe first. On an aeroplane the safety advice is always “Put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help others”. It’s wise advice. We need to attend to our own care first in order to give us the strength and resilience to help others. It’s unfortunate that many people don’t get this and they tend to repeatedly put the needs of others before their own. They give and give until they are either all washed up or feeling resentful. A common name for this is co-dependency. Is this something you suffer from? It is something that was the bane of my life for many years. Always seeking to attend to other people’s needs, I forgot to tend to my own. I ended up resentful and felt taken for granted and lacking in energy and self-worth.

Yet this imbalance is seldom found in nature. All natural organisms have innate instincts for both self-preservation and pleasure, and attending to others. If we observe the ways of Nature, we can discover a healthy balance between nurturing ourselves and those around us.

Purpose: To explore natural and healthy ways to care for ourselves as well as others.

To do: Take your art materials to a natural place where you feel comfortable and can study your surroundings uninterrupted. Quietly ask for permission to be there and interact. When you feel welcome and comfortable enter the natural space.

1. Ask yourself what you do to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Write your thoughts in your journal. Do you make yourself a priority? Are you able to recognise your needs and seek to fulfill them or ask for help when you need it? If not, why not?

2. Look around you for something natural that you are drawn to. Study it to understand how it takes care of itself. What does it do to maintain its wellbeing? 

3. Draw a picture of the natural entity that you are drawn to and illustrate how it nurtures itself. Give your artwork a title.

4. Make a list of things it needs to take care of itself. Make a list of things you need to take care of yourself.

On reflection

When you look at your artwork what thoughts and feelings do you have? Is there a message in it for you?

Make a list of things you can do to nurture and take care of yourself. Make it a priority to do at least one of these things every day.

Maya Angelou once said: “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” You must teach yourself that you are worthy of respect,  your needs are meant to be met, and your dreams are meant to be fulfilled. You must believe you are as worthy and important as everyone else.

Conclusion:
 
Consider your experience with this activity.
a) On a thought level
b) On a feeling level 
c) On a behavioural level (what will you do differently in the future?)

The rock and the blackberry bush (We are each strong and flexible in our own way)

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I tried to break the end off a blackberry stem but the strength of the stem and the thorns made it impossible. I picked up a rock and used the edge to cut the stem. It struck me how these two natural entities were so different yet each was strong and flexible in its own way and each had a purpose. The rock was easy to pick up and use as a tool. Its unchanging form made it reliable and gave it many uses. The blackberry stem was difficult to break or pull up but it was easy to pick the fruit it provided.
 
“When Nature has work to be done she hires a genius”. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
 
Purpose: Consult Nature to help discover your life purpose and write a mission statement for your life.
 
Nature has never evolved something that wasn’t needed. That includes you. Everyone has a calling. Why were you born? Why do you exist? Some people have a clear sense of purpose, others stumble around trying to find it. You don’t have to hire an expensive therapist or attend fancy workshops to find out why you are here. All you have to do is step outside and listen. The natural world will tell you why it gave birth to you.
 
To do:
Go to an attractive place in a natural area and quietly seek permission to visit and interact.
 
1. Observe the area and reflect on the fact that everything has a special value and purpose. Nature created each of these entities to fulfil a special mission. You were born to play a unique role, too. You have a purpose that was fashioned for you and only you. Imagine that Earth had a job vacancy on the day you were born. It sent a help-wanted ad on the wind. Use your pens and paper and design what this ad looked like. What did the earth need? Be creative, draw a picture of it and what it said. Colour it in.
 
2. Imagine that you saw this help wanted ad before you were born and you applied for it. Design and fill out your application form. Why do you want the job? What are your strengths? Why are you the perfect candidate? What would convince Nature to hire you?
 
3. Run your hands over your body and feel your warmth and aliveness. Celebrate your existence and let it confirm that your application was accepted. Thank Nature for giving you this opportunity.
 
Reflection
 
Write a personal mission statement for your life. Try to clear the clutter of social conditioning and what other people (and you) think you ‘should’ be and think what you ‘want’ to be. Let Nature inspire an authentic answer. Don’t rush your response; it might be immediate, or it might take days or even weeks for you to discover it. You will know when it arrives because it will feel like it has come from a different source entirely. It will resonate on a deeply spiritual level. The words that come to you will make you tingle and will excite you to the core.
 
Conclusion:
 
Consider your experience with this activity
A) On a thought level
B) On a feeling level 
C) On a behavioural level (what will you do in the future?)