In my last post, One Year Sober, I mentioned that I would be facilitating my first “Fight Shame with Forgiveness” workshop with my recovery group. It was a great success and I was truly honoured to be in a room full of so many creative individuals. At the beginning of the session, almost everyone mentioned that they “loved art” and followed with a self-criticism like “but I’m not very good”. However, I took great pleasure in watching them suspend their judgement and allow their inner child to come out and doodle. They were so “in the zone” that most of them continued to work through their break and were quite happy to share their doodles with each other at the end of the session. Judgement of ourselves and others is a dangerous thing. It’s soooooo limiting and stifles our ability to grow into compassionate, creative human beings. It blocks us from understanding our inner strength and our worthiness to love and be loved. As children, we are immersed in ideas about what is right and wrong, who is good and who is bad. These ideas are handed down to us through society, our families, teachers, friends, colleagues and even strangers. So it’s no wonder we judge ourselves harshly for not living up to some elusive ideal we think we need to be in order to fit-in, be accepted and be loved.
How do we stop judging ourselves? By forgiving ourselves for not being perfect, by letting go of the past and accepting that we did the best we could do under the circumstances, by accepting and loving ourselves as we are and by celebrating ourselves and all we have accomplished. A great way to do all these things in one step, is by writing a letter of self-forgiveness, or as I also like to call it, a love letter to yourself. We can also practice non-judgement by exploring the creative arts …. like doodling. Why should we do all this? Because we are worth it!
P.S. The above doodle was created by my Dad. Before introducing my art therapy exercises to my recovery group, I practiced them with my parents, who are in their eighties. They thoroughly enjoyed it.