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The Power of Expressive Artmaking in Redefining and Exploring Habit Changes

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC


Expressive artmaking is a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth. When applied to the process of examining and changing habits, it offers a unique way to explore the emotions, thoughts, and subconscious motivations that underpin our behaviors. Engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, sculpting, or collage allows for a non-verbal expression of the inner experiences tied to habits, providing insights that might be difficult to articulate through words alone.


What is Expressive Artmaking?

At the outset, it’s essential to understand what expressive artmaking entails. Unlike traditional art, where the focus might be on technique or aesthetics, expressive art prioritizes the process of creation itself. It’s about using art to express and explore emotions, rather than creating a finished product. This approach can be especially beneficial when examining habits, as it frees individuals from the pressure of producing ‘good’ art, allowing them to focus instead on the thoughts and feelings that arise during the creative process.


Habit Change and Expressive Artmaking

When we start to explore our habits through art, the first step is to identify a habit we wish to change or understand better. This could be anything from a daily routine, like drinking coffee, to a more ingrained behavior, such as procrastination. Once identified, one can begin the artmaking process with the intention of exploring this habit. For example, you might create a visual representation of what the habit looks like to you, using colors, shapes, and textures that resonate with your experience of the habit.


As you engage in this process, pay close attention to the emotions and thoughts that surface. You might notice feelings of resistance, frustration, or even comfort and security tied to the habit. These emotions are valuable pieces of information, revealing how deeply our habits are connected to our emotional states. For instance, a habit like procrastination might be linked to fear of failure, and expressing this through art can help bring these underlying fears to the forefront.


Expressive Art to Envision Change

Expressive art can also be a way to envision the change you desire. After exploring your current habit, you can create another piece that represents the new habit you want to cultivate. This contrast can make the desired change more tangible and provide a visual roadmap for your journey. Through this process, you can explore the positive emotions associated with the new habit and visualize yourself successfully integrating it into your life.


Additionally, the artmaking process itself can serve as a metaphor for habit change. Just as creating art requires patience, experimentation, and a willingness to embrace mistakes, changing a habit involves similar qualities. Through art, we learn to accept the imperfect and the unfinished, which can be a powerful lesson when dealing with the setbacks and challenges of habit change. The process teaches us resilience and the importance of persistence.


Throughout this journey, it’s crucial to reflect on the art you’ve created. Take time to journal about your artwork, noting any insights or patterns that emerge. Ask yourself questions like: What emotions did I feel while creating this piece? What does this artwork tell me about my relationship to this habit? How do I feel about the new habit I’m trying to adopt? This reflection helps to solidify the insights gained through artmaking and can guide you in making conscious, informed changes to your habits.


In conclusion, using expressive artmaking to explore habits and habit changes offers a rich, multi-faceted approach to personal growth. It allows for a deep exploration of the emotional and psychological underpinnings of our behaviors, provides a creative outlet for expressing and processing these experiences, and offers a visual and experiential pathway to envisioning and enacting change. By embracing the process of artmaking, individuals can cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and their habits, ultimately leading to more intentional and fulfilling lives.


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artmaking and habit change



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