When we’ve been so busy, either being addicted to a substance or a person, we tend to lose sight of who we are, of our own dreams and goals, our likes and dislikes.
A great way to get back on track is to do something creative. It can help us to see things from a new perspective, find newfound talents within ourselves, and be a therapeutic step toward healing.
A simple way to begin to express yourself creatively is to tell your story. Tell your past story if need be so you can get your own grip on it. Figure it out for yourself. Many of the greatest authors have used their personal experiences as the basis for great literature and found it therapeutic in the process. At the same time, tell the story for yourself, not for anyone else. You don’t have to become Hemingway to benefit from and enjoy the process of storytelling. If telling your old story is too painful, tell the story of your future, envision what you want for yourself, put it down into words so your subconscious knows what your goal is.
When we talk about "telling" a story, we think of writing it or speaking it. Oral narratives are definitely an art form in themselves and the oldest way of storytelling. But the spoken or written word is not the only way to tell a story. Any of the other creative art forms will work equally well.
A very therapeutic creative form that allows for protected self-expression is acting. You can play the role of a fictional character whose story you feel resembles your own, and in the process, experience that character’s emotions and use them to help you process your own feelings.
Dance is a fantastic way to expend excess energy whether it is anger, frustration, or joy. Take a dance class—any kind will work such as ballet, jazz, square dancing, folk or tap. Find a friend and go ballroom dancing—the friendship and shared creativity can be healing. Or if you are shy about your dancing abilities, dance at home. Just turn off all the lights and let you and the music be alone together. Put on your favorite song and dance around the living room, burning off energy and relaxing your body.
Painting and drawing are excellent means of self-expression. You can paint or draw pictures of situations you’ve been in and find healing in the process, or you can focus on painting a calm country scene, a landscape, whatever makes you feel peaceful.
If anything soothes the savage soul, it is music. Write your own song lyrics, play an instrument, or join your local choir.
Whatever you do, express yourself. The world needs your individuality, your ideas and thoughts, the magic that is you that only you can express. No one is more qualified than you to tell your story—if you don’t tell it, no one will; if you don’t use your imagination to show others the possibilities in the world, a rich gift will be lost, and through the process, you will find healing.
Irene Watson, MA, is author of The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference, and co-editor of The Story that Must Be Told: True Tales of Transformation, and Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers. She is a workshop leader, managing editor of Reader Views, and president of a non-profit Higher Power Foundation. Irene lives next to Barton Creek in Austin, TX, with her husband Robert.