Surrey-Langley Self-Esteem Counselling
Do you feel plagued by critical thoughts that hold you back?
Is your inner critic in control?
Low self-esteem can lead to depression, anxiety, a poor sense of self, insecurity and lowered confidence in our ability to weather life’s challenges. Other symptoms include a fear of expressing yourself, self-loathing, hopelessness, perfectionism or suppressing our voices for fear of disappointing others. Listen carefully and you can hear that judgemental voice that is so pervasive we almost don’t notice its tapes playing in the background. We don’t feel “good enough” and this negative evaluation of ourselves is not only detrimental but only makes things worse. It can affect your relationships, your ability to reach your potential, your successes at work and even the level of happiness or contentment you feel with yourself. Often low self esteem can make us our own worst enemy.
This is where self-compassion or self-empathy can help.
Imagine being able to accept yourself exactly as you are. Not only accepting yourself, but loving and honoring yourself – this is an important part of good mental health. Self-compassion can help you soothe your agitated mind, soften your heart and tame that negative inner voice. By understanding and dialoguing with the inner critic, we can replace it with a kinder, more gentle response. Based upon the work of Kristin Neff and principles of mindfulness, we can learn to challenge the inner critic and its conversations. When we are aware of those voices inside our head, and can recognize them for what they are, we are able to admit that they are not our truth. By meeting and greeting our inner critic, we are able to soothe and make peace with ourselves. You too can stop your negative and critical self-talk!
Many of us have never been taught to be compassionate towards ourselves. Our tendency is to judge ourselves (and others) and this is what we internalize as a sense of self. We don’t think to turn the light of tenderness towards us because we are accustomed to a critical mind that is constantly evaluating danger and trying to keep us safe.
Self-compassion requires the right hemisphere of the brain (associated with creativity and the arts) to have a voice because the left hemisphere is incapable of experiencing empathy – but it is adept at criticism and judgement. So we need to listen to the whole of our being. Empathy and connection can be learned and practiced over time until it becomes second nature. That’s where Expressive Arts Therapy and Mindfulness comes in.
Working with the arts allows the right hemisphere of the brain to strengthen its connections neurologically, and developing this part of the brain allows us to heighten our ability to be self-compassionate. At some level, we have to receive this gift first – it has to be modeled somewhere, and therapy is a great place to start.
How Expressive Arts Therapy can help with self-esteem, self-empathy and self-compassion
Expressive Arts Therapy can also help with expressing your feelings and observing your self-talk. Through a variety of arts based exercises, you can learn to recognize those nasty messages for what they are and create healthier thought patterns. When we are paying attention to something other than that critical talk, it allows the neural connections of the right side of the brain to strengthen – art making provides us with the opportunity to focus on something constructive and healing.
As well, creating art helps build confidence and creates the opportunity to envision the person you wish to be. As you learn to practice self acceptance, you will build skills and techniques that are more sustaining and nurturing. You can learn to live in a state of peace, feeling more relaxed and content. Other benefits include feeling more optimistic, optimal stress recovery, and feeling more productive in life. Building competence and greater confidence through the arts will help you to be able to transfer this knowledge outside of therapy. In a warm, nurturing environment, I will help you to see the very best in you!
Mehlomakulu, Carolyn. Retrieved from http://creativityintherapy.com/2018/01/facing-inner-critic-art/
Neff, Kristin. (2015) Self Compassion.