Processing Inner Drama. An empowering process through Art Journalling

“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.

I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and follow where they lead.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

January is kicking my ass. I always struggle with the new year, it takes ages for us to come to terms with each other. What I KNOW, is that we always do, that this too, is temporary. I will not be stuck here.

I posted last week about resolutions, how every new year I find myself in the battleground of inner conflict, in a war that is not actually a war, but a process; I just keep forgetting that!

So here is a process that worked for me in getting unstuck most recently.

  • I kept a written journal.
  • I allowed myself to vent and to not feel like I had to control or force myself into a better mood
  • I’d had a sense of my particular conflict for a while before I ‘went in’.

I have found that our issues are always getting flagged, but when we’re not ready, we push ‘em back down. That’s ok. When you’re ready, you’ll know, because when it’s meant to be, there will be a curiosity about ‘going there’.

  • I sensed my curiosity and stayed close to that and non-judgement
  • I repeatedly told myself what I know. That every little thing is gonna be alright.

After venting enough into my written journal for a couple of nights, I managed to create a little distance between me and the ‘drama’, I let it sit for a while and waited for the urge to art it out further.

After a couple of days I felt called to my art journal.

It was during a particularly scathing train of self criticism, so I just opened a clean page and scribbled in pencil, the words of the critic.

Inner critic

They were angry, venomous words. I just scribbled them out onto the page, uncensored. It was unpleasant, but I didn't stay with the thoughts, I dumped the words out and then I walked away. Just to note, I wasn't home alone when I did this. Once I did the scribbling I dropped the pencil, left the room (I knew my journal would not be read) and returned to the company of my love. It's important to feel safe and supported if you're going to entertain the critic. 

The next day, I began with a measure of detachment. I couldn’t read the words without being triggered so working fast and without thought or reaction, I put a light layer of medium diluted gesso over the words and a thicker layer over the particularly cruel ones.

I added a few layers of paint and stamps and then scribbled some positive counter thoughts over the new layers.

Layers

At this point I had no idea what I was going to do with this page. I took a break, dunked my head into a nourishing bowl of MY FAV veggie broth and listened to an inspiring audiobook by my favourite author.  TIP: MAJOR Self care all the way!

Before long, I got the urge to go back to my journal and start with a heart. (FYI, Whatever ‘urge’ pops into your head, don't think, just go with it)

The heart represents my greater self, my capacity to be loving, compassionate and kind. I outlined the heart with black gesso and over that again with  a charcoal stick, blending it in to add some depth. I outlined two more, smaller hearts for balance and because I LOVE hearts!!

I’m sorry I didn’t take photos from this point as the process unfolded…I was immersed & it never occurred to me. Guilty face

I drew three birds, two inside the heart, painted with black gesso and outlined with white tip marker and the third larger bird, which I just outlined over the paint layer with black gesso.

I then painted loose and fast with dry-ish brushes around the drawn images with combinations of medium, black and white gesso, mauve and crimson red (LOVE that colour). This made central features of my outlined images, the exposed layers of paint giving an effect I couldn’t achieve if I ‘tried’.

I had drawn the three birds before I realised there are three inner parts to this conflict! I love how the subconscious plays out when art journalling. I included the words ‘All parts are welcome’ as a message to the conflicted parts (and the critic) from true (greater) self. This is the central principle of Self Therapy, an approach to healing I find extremely compassionate, user friendly and effective.

Self therapy, all parts are welcome

I finished by doodling some random lines with black and white gel pens and shading around the images with pitt artist ink pens.

Self care

This process was very worthwhile and therapeutic for me. It has helped me detach more from each of the characters of this inner drama, to step back (into self) and not over identify with any one, or becoming overwhelmed by it’s perspective, fears, demands, opinions.

Getting into self is the primary step in the self therapy approach to addressing inner conflict. As I write this now, realising the process that unfolded, facilitated by some (always magic) time spent art journalling, I feel relieved, empowered and strengthened. I understand now. Now I have something far less threatening to work with.

There is more to do, but for now… breeeeeathe.

Always, Amanda xoxo