by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
There can at times be periods of clarity in our lives, in which the acts that we are engaging in seem to align with our sense of who we are and who we want to become. Other times, we might feel aligned with one aspect of our identity or well-being, but feel imbalance in our pursuits. And still, other times we may feel lost or unsure of the path we are on. Is it our own? Is it even recognizable?
In life we are faced with pressures to define ourselves, to label our talents, to determine our sense of purpose- and often these answers are expected of us all before our brains have fully developed. It's not always easy to focus in on what we want in life. Between the distractions of day-to-day life and the multitude of options and paths available to us, it can be difficult to determine what it is we're meant to do.
That's where self-awareness comes in. By understanding ourselves deeply, we can begin to see the patterns and themes that emerged in our lives, and from there we can start to focus in on our life path and goals for what we may want to achieve.
Self-awareness is the key to understanding our own motivations. With self-awareness, we can learn to recognize our own emotions and behaviors, allowing us to better understand ourselves.
In order to get in touch with our emotions and inner thoughts, often creative and introspective processes can promote a level of self-reflection needed for greater awareness. Journaling is one of the most popular methods. We can use journaling to explore our thoughts and feelings, and to track our progress in achieving our goals. Writing down our goals can also help us stay focused and motivated.
Meditation is another technique that can help us develop self-awareness. By practicing meditation, we can learn to focus on the present moment and become more aware of our thoughts and feelings. This can help us understand ourselves better and make more informed decisions. We can combine meditation with our art by identifying a mantra or listening to a guided meditation that encourages us to focus in on our sense of purpose and life force which motivates us in moving closer towards our authentic self.
In art therapy, we have the ability to combine aspects of journaling and meditation through visual and process-driven creations that allow us to externally explore what seems intangible. As a directive, one may choose to literally create a path that incorporates a horizon line, or the desired goal. Think about “What are my efforts and actions right now working towards?” Perhaps you might come to recognize that you have parallel paths that you are on that veer in different directions or perhaps the path seems unclear or unpaved.
For some of us, there are many expectations about who we should be, how we should act or react and what is necessary to live a successful and satisfying life. We face many challenges, distractions and signs in our life hoping to shift our direction towards goals external to our own. In order to focus in on what you want, you need to understand who you are and what's important to you. Only then can you start making decisions that align with your values and passions.
The following steps will help you get started:
1. Understand your values- create art depicting themes and concepts of what is important to you
2. Create a vision for your life- creating a vision board with images of objects, emotions and words to inspire a life you are working towards
3. Identify your life purpose- what do you believe you are meant to do and how would you like to think you could contribute to the greater world around you? Reminders of our purpose can be extremely grounding and stabilizing when we feel off-balance.
4. Set goals that support your purpose- Think about what brings you joy and meaning and what it would take to incorporate those elements into your life right now.
Once you have a strong sense of self-awareness, it becomes much easier to focus in on your life path and goals. You'll be able to see the big picture more clearly, and make decisions that are in line with your values and beliefs.
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