As we wind down the third step of our journey of artistic recovery, the emphasis is on being especially kind to ourselves while we continue to gently uncover our past memories. One of the important ways to begin to find new ways of self-care is to check in with yourself on a regular basis throughout the day. Learn to stop and take your energetic and emotional temperature.
This is developing the practice of enhanced self-nurturing. Practice stepping back from whatever is going on, and asking yourself – how am I feeling? What do I need right now? What is my energy like?
This is not narcissistic or selfish. Many artists who live in hiding compensate for the lack of healthy self-awareness by occasional binges of self-indulgence. Often these are not wholesome or good for you, but your inner child is threatening a temper tantrum, so you give in, just to quiet her or him down.
Instead of ignoring those needs until you cave-in to a melt down, the habit of taking the time to check in and take tender care of yourself throughout your day will direct you in much more productive and happy directions.
Artists need emotional quiet time, to hear their inner guidance. Learn to be more than usually aware of yourself. Remember that your artist self is a child who has been long-neglected and who may need some coaxing at first. She or he is very likely to show a lot of bravado; other times might seem recalcitrant, withdrawn and uncommunicative. Take it slow; you have a lifetime of hurt to heal.
So here are some more exercises to help you get back in touch with your sweet young artist.
1. Describe your childhood room. You might sketch it. What was your favorite thing about it? What’s your favorite thing about your room today? Is there something from your childhood room you could bring into the present-day, that might delight or comfort you?
2. Describe five traits you like when you remember yourself as a child.
3. List five childhood accomplishments (ex: good grades in junior high; trained the dog; got a swimming badge in Scouts).
4. List five of your favorite foods when you were a kid. Buy yourself one of them this week!
5. Habits: Take a look at your habits. Julia explains, “Many of them may interfere with your self-nurturing and cause shame. Some of the oddest things are self-destructive. Do you have a habit of watching TV you don’t like? Do you have a habit of hanging out with a really boring friend and just killing time (there’s an expression!)? Some rotten habits are obvious, overt (drinking too much, smoking, eating instead of writing). List three obvious rotten habits. What’s the payoff for continuing them?”
She goes on to challenge us by adding, “Some rotten habits are more subtle (no time to exercise, little time to pray, always helping others, not getting any self-nurturing, hanging out with people who belittle your dreams.) List three of your subtle foes. What use do these forms of sabotage have? Be specific.”