How Art Can Impact Our Emotional Well-Being and Generate Self Awareness

How Art Can Impact Our Emotional Well-Being and Generate Self Awareness

When we Think one thing and Feel another, we experience confusion. Our words and actions might even change like tides of the sea, and phases of the moon. It is not until we align our thoughts with our feelings that we will become centered, and from this position we are able to effectively communicate with others. The problem is, we live in a society that often dismisses the concept of feelings, or has taught us that we should not have them at all. So, they become buried, problems fester, and emotional distance further separates us.

Before we can connect with others, we must offer ourselves empathy and compassion. We can do this by coming to a place of self awareness when understanding our own inner landscapes. Whatever it is that comes to stir inside of us unexpectedly, that is a natural part of life, and it is there for purposes of growth and maturation. Feelings are energy in motion and are sometimes difficult to label. They do not need to be fixed, just brought to the surface. The same goes likewise to the ones who think they are helping by condemning others for what they feel, and believing that those people need to be altered in some way instead of accepting what is. These actions will only further suppress the real issue. Feelings are not wrong or dangerous. They do not hold their own religious beliefs or need to fit in with social circles. (Our choices to ignore them are more harmful to the long term outcome.) Feelings are part of humanity, propelling us onward to the next level, helping each of us grow and learn through experiences. Without them, life is empty and meaningless. 

When we are conditioned by our environments long enough, it can be challenging to acknowledge how we feel. Art can have a restorative and rejuvenating aspect, helping us to go within, and channel those worlds when words are either too painful or aren't enough. This is why in classes, guests are always prompted to do what comes most instinctive and natural to their own composition. Let everything else fall away. Then, just be.

How Painting Helps to Go Inward, Sorting Our Thoughts vs Emotions :

1.) Painting will stimulate both the left and right side of our brain. 

In painting, we use the left side of the brain to tackle rational, logical challenges – how to structure the painting, for example – while the left side of the brain is used for more creative challenges, helping the painter visualize their work before they have set up their easel and put out the paint. Even as a beginner, learning how to paint will strengthen the mind as we try our new techniques and master new skills. Painting is an all-brain exercise, strengthening the mind and triggering dopamine activity in the brain. When we feel secure and safe, we are more likely to discuss what's going on within.

2.) Painting Supports Our Authentic Selves

Painting helps to release emotions in a cathartic way. We are able to deal with those emotions by giving them physical shape, texture, and color. Through art, we are able to express them in a non-threatening and safe environment. It is then easier to put into words what we are honestly thinking and feeling.

3.) Painting Helps to Strengthen our Problem Solving Skills 

When we are experimenting and trying new things, sometimes those things don't go as planned. This is an opportunity to discover a new way, experiment with processes and outcomes, and also to cope with disappointment. As frustrating as it can be, a painter will quickly learn to adapt and come up with another creative solution. Thus, thinking outside of the box will eventually become habitual and second nature to a painter.

4.) Painting Improves Memory & Activates the Subconscious

Because creative people are constantly pulling from images that they have seen in their past, they are regularly exercising the muscles to their memories. This helps us to begin moving through our subconscious while using symbolic imagery that will help identify important aspects within ourselves. People who regularly practice creative activities, such as painting, have also shown to have less chance of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

5.) Spending Time Together Relieves Stress

When we create together, we feel more connected to each other. Painting is also a great way to break the ice in conversation. Brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are released when we do activities together, supporting our overall health and well-being, and making social interaction feel naturally rewarding. Integrating other sensory activities during this process, such as listening to music, or allowing yourself to enjoy the feelings of new texture, like paint on your hands, helps to embrace what we feel and releases emotions. 

6.) Free Art Helps us Practice Intrinsic Motivation

During our early years of development, it is important for us to find a system that works for our well being. Experimenting with processes and outcomes through art, the natural consequences of the paint and finding solutions will help us to rely on our own intuition and what we know has worked best for us in the past. Unfortunately, during adulthood many of us will lose that part of ourselves to the belief systems of other people, society's standards and expectations. Realistic forms and imagery can identify subconscious thoughts and feelings through symbolism and show us how to develop real world techniques within our art, while free form helps for us to practice intrinsic motivation. Embracing the process, verses focusing on the praise of the outcome will guide us back to our own centered place, eliminating the judgment and pressure of meeting someone else's standards, thus pleasing them at the expense of our own wants and needs. 

All feelings are unique but the molecules that convey them are the same in all of us. Our life experiences are unique. However, there is something that all experiences have in common and that is every brain will aim for its own survival. Understanding the mechanisms and functions can build new circuits of happiness and help rewire our programming through new habits. Thus, breaking unhelpful cycles that hinder our growth and hold us back from having mature and healthy experiences.

The creative process can aid to identifying our subconscious landscapes, eradicating the weeds that starve our emotional gardens. So the next time you are creating something, ask yourself how do you feel. This can be a silent question. If your response is without a feelings word; (I.E happy, sad, angry, jealous, scared, frustrated, etc,) than it was probably a thought. When we don't verbalize or acknowledge our own feelings, we will act them out inappropriately, and likely continue to reap a revolving cycle of undesired results. The first step is to accept how we feel instead of saying that we should not feel that way. Label it with yourself, and express it verbally without any demands attached to it. When we do this, we are empowered. When we don't, our needs are rarely met, and at some point or another, we will fuss and throw the adult version of a fit. We always have a choice. When it is challenging, art can help bridge the gap between confusion and expressing what we truly desire. It brings light to the darkness and contributes to our emotional well-being. Art is a way of knowing. It teaches us what it means to be human and alive, and it is also a way of embracing what we actually believe. 

Free form helps us to remember our own values, and to think for ourselves. That our inner landscapes are not about what someone else perceives something should look like on the outside, or how it should be. As with all of life, it's about flow. Things work until they don't. Then, it is time to figure out a new solution. It's about surfacing what is within, accepting what is instead of avoiding, thus enriching our own state of being as we embrace processes and the outcomes of change in a healthy way.

Art inevitably tells our own personal stories in a non-judgmental form, bringing to surface our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences, our values, and beliefs without constricting them. Through art we are offered a chance to be honest with ourselves, to get to know our wants and needs from a deeper perspective, experiencing an opportunity to transform decisions and find reasons behind our joys and our pains. It is a vehicle that can help drive us as we navigate new life directions. Acknowledging our own feelings and beliefs is the first step to finding comfort through the discomfort. Coming to know ourselves again through different stages of growth and change can be one of the most powerful forms of healing as we reach self actualization.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.