Have you ever made a list of all the (non-material) things you own? You might be in for a surprise.
I recently took part in an art therapy workshop organized by our local mental-health family support center.
In the core part of the evening we were supplied with colors, crayons, chalks, and paper and were asked to prepare a drawing that reflects how we see our life and ourselves. Then the art therapist, Illit, interpreted each work, relating in detail to the colors and shapes used, to the extent the paper was filled, the size relations, and, of course, to what the “painter” actually put to paper. We learned about how we perceive and interact with our surroundings, about our strengths and weaknesses, our level of self-confidence, about what is really important to us, where we feel stuck or helpless, etc.
It was fun and interesting.
However, what really rewarded me for having left the house, and mind you, it’s not easy to lure me out of my home in the evening, was “The List” we were asked to make. Following the introduction round, before we began drawing, Illit asked each one of us to compile a list of the things we possess. Seeing the question mark on some of our faces, she gave us a helping hand by broadening the scope of what we could/should perceive as being our assets. Shifting our focus away from material things she explained that our riches can include people we love and who love us back, such as our parents, siblings, friends, etc.; our social and cultural background; the values we received from our parents and family; the languages we grew up with; the knowledge we accumulated; the lessons we learned; the skills we developed, etc.
Wow, I suddenly grasped the magnitude of what I own, of what constitutes an intrinsic (and extrinsic) part of my life and of who I am:
o My parents – Although they are divorced (together they were a catastrophe 😉 ) and live on opposite parts of the globe, I have a mother and a father whose love is rooted in me and will be a part of my core essence until my last breath.
o My beloved sister and her daughters, who are to me like my own.
o I grew up in several countries, with diverse cultures, and speaking more than one language;
o MY SON = MY SUN, my flesh, my offspring – although struggling with mental complexity (which is, in part, the trigger for very harsh disputes between us lately), he is brilliant, sensitive, and very special; and he is mine! His life is his life, not mine, but HE is mine, my son!
o I have never wallowed in money but I have a roof over my head, food, access to abounding sources of information, sunlight, friends, lots of energy, and a powerful body that serves me 24/7.
o And my bicycle – thanks for always waiting up for me, no matter where I happen to leave you; thanks for being so undemanding, for being my ally in dirt and dust, from dawn to dusk. I love you, Bike.
In Hebrew we have two homophones pronounced “osher”, one meaning “wealth” and the other “happiness”. After the art therapy workshop I felt osher AND osher.
A few words about art therapy:
Art therapists are generally trained both in psychology and in art.
Art therapy aims at treating emotional and mental issues by enhancing self-awareness and self-esteem, encouraging personal development, and improving coping skills. The art is the medium of communication between the therapist and the patient or client.
If you have a hard time expressing yourself with words, art therapy is perfect for you. And you do not have to be an artist – just take the colors and put to paper what comes to mind. It is fun, inspiring, and healing.
“Living with emotional discomfort because of anger, frustration, regret, abuse, neglect, humiliation and other emotions can take control of our behavior and limit our life journey,” she says.
But art therapy can also serve as a creative outlet to help clients, “expand awareness, mindfulness and consciousness and to find [their] individual voice.”