How to use ART as a way to heal
Everyone has gone through, or is going through, some sort of personal struggle in their lives. What are some things that can help with the struggle and moving forward? Some things that maybe you haven’t considered? Perhaps art is one of them.
Art Helps Us
For me, art is something that has saved me many times, and I think everyone has some songs/movies/TV shows/books in their lives that have made them feel understood, empowered, or less alone in the world. What a powerful and infinitely useful thing.
I have had several big struggles, which I may get into on here later. At the acme, or should I say the depth of my struggles, I had others helping me, but I knew that I had to do a lot of the work myself. Sometimes I needed to grieve, or feel scared, or feel empowered, etc. Art was able to take me to all those places – and even more cathartic, was to create the art myself.
As a singer/songwriter artist for many years, I have been able to use music to express what I’m feeling, or to create soundscapes from the far edges of my imagination. Over time, I started to realize more and more that maybe my own struggles and healing processes could help other people. If I had my way, no one else would go through these struggles; but knowing that others are, I thought of how my words or melodies might be helpful to others. That enabled me to find the strength and stamina to carry on, both in personal growth, and as an artist. The same goes for my writing.
The next time you’re starting to feel the weight of a struggle, try pressing ‘pause’ and finding some piece of art that resonates with you. Or put your judgements of yourself aside, and explore some different creative outlets to express yourself. Try writing, or painting, or playing an instrument, etc. There may be times when one form of expression works better than another. That’s fine. The point is to explore, and to engage and release the creativity that lies within you! You don’t even have to wait for the next time the struggle gets hard, go ahead and try it this weekend. Expressing yourself provides any number of benefits. Finding your personal release is magical.
As an artist, even though I want to connect with people, sometimes it’s incredibly hard to show my vulnerabilities. With the prevalence of social media, and people showing the “highlight reels” of their lives, one can feel even more pressure to be ‘perfect’ or to show a ‘perfect’ life to the world. At the end of the day, that really isn’t helpful, or even healthy. The vast majority of us know that what is displayed on people’s social media feeds is not even close to all they’re experiencing in their lives. Even so, it can be easy to get caught up in portraying only the best moments. I’m not saying I think people should show every depressing moment they have, just that it’s healthier to have some balance. Expressing yourself online is still a form of expression. See what happens if you start showing more shades of yourself on whatever platforms you use. This is something I’m working on too.
There is a lot of darkness in the world, and I know that either I can add to it, or choose to shine from the lighter parts of my self and psyche. Sometimes there’s something wonderful about putting on or writing a dark song and wallowing in it for a few moments. But that can’t be where we stay. When used in the right way, art can aid in keeping our heads above water most of the time. Nothing is a complete fix-all, but some things can dramatically help with the journey.
At times a TV show or movie can provide a welcome distraction from whatever problems we’re experiencing. Getting away from negative thoughts can sometimes be just what we need. We journey to this other world, and when we return, our brains start fresh. This is definitely one of the ways I use art. My brain tends to race a million miles a minute, and now and then I need to get away from my thoughts for a bit in order to return to some normalcy. Of course this, like most things, can be taken too far. We don’t want to distract ourselves so much that we’re never setting our feet on solid ground.
My message as an artist and writer is about living the life you’ve imagined and following your heart. Often that means overcoming certain internal or external battles. If you get to a moment when whatever you’re struggling with is really getting to you, where your well-being is threatened, I urge you to immerse yourself in some art. Or try writing or creating some kind of art to help express yourself and also work out your feelings. There’s incredible liberation in having an outlet.
Art can be a way to untangle from ourselves and step toward the light
Throughout time, music, movies, TV, theater, paintings, books, poetry, etc have been able to both transport us far away, and connect us to each other in incredible ways. Everyone has their own story, their own struggles, and their own methods for moving forward. Ultimately, we must know that we’re worthy, beautiful and that we do matter. Not keeping things locked up, and allowing ourselves to express ourselves in creative ways, can bring us great peace and provide us with more of a sense of purpose. To anyone reading this, know there is hope. And know that there is a unique creativity inside you that only you can nurture.
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