A Nurturing Support Group
As an introvert, who for years only shared my emotional truths with myself - in my own private journals - I began to feel the aching need to connect with others on a similar journey. I felt the need to "reach out" beyond my comfort zone to share parts of myself that I was not allowed to express in my growing up years. That is when I joined my first support group.
Over the years I have taken part in many online and in-person support groups, and I found that they exponentially intensified my inner growth. Seeing my own struggles mirrored in other people's self-expression helped me to feel less alone. Asking others for help in the areas that I had silently struggled alone with for all of my life was also groundbreaking for me.
We all have a set of rules about what we can and cannot express. Breaking those rules ignites our emotional healing process. Sharing what we have never shared can feel very uncomfortable at first. In my experience of online support groups, it brought up strangulating feelings of shame, especially as I fearfully waited for my group to accept or reject me. Yet, in the process of waiting, I ended up healing and accepting emotions that would not have come up, if I had not shared.
The purpose of our support group is to begin to allow forbidden or rejected parts of ourselves to express. This can be done in an ever-widening sphere of influence. First we begin to firstly express ourselves truthfully to ourselves in our private journals, next to at least one safe other, next within a safe group, and finally, it will feel easier to be authentic in the world at large.
What was once not allowed, and repressed, can come up to be shared in a supportive group with others on a similar journey. When we are mature enough to become lovingly present to our unprocessed pain, we attract people to share in our healing journey that are more accepting and supportive than in the past.
You are Warmly Welcome to:
1. Share your expressive art and writing with the group as it relates to the course or to the current emotional healing process in your life.
2. Ask for help or clarification. If you create a page in your journal that you do not understand, you can post it up, and ask the group, "How do you experience my art? What do you see in it? How does it make you feel when you look at it?"
3. Share a personal story of your emotional healing process. How did you get through something hard or painful?
4. Practice asking for help and feedback, especially if this is not what you normally do. Learn to let love into the places that have been rejected in the past.
5. Share and describe your emotional overwhelm, ask for love and support, and open up to being cared for in ways that you may not have experienced before.
Guidelines for Sharing Your Expressive Art and Writing
1. Share what you feel comfortable sharing, and then consider sharing a little bit more.
2. Be prepared that you might feel an emotional "shame charge" about revealing something that has felt rejected in the past - after you share.
3. Be lovingly present for your shame. From the higher part of yourself, you can talk to the more ashamed part of yourself, and say, "I love you."
4. Don't ever force yourself to share. Stay involved by supporting and encouraging others instead if you need to contain your healing process.
5. Feel free to place your art up on the group for a short time, ask for emotional responses to your work, and then take it down at a later time if it feels too vulnerable. If you feel comfortable leaving your art up on the group, your transparent process will be support others on their healing journey.
Offering Feedback on Expressive Art and Writing
1. Respond without Interpretation - Respond to another person's art or writing based on what strongly strikes you emotionally - without interpretation. For example, "I love that slash of red in the upper right corner. It makes me feel joyful." The writer or artist can choose to respond with more personal sharing, or not.
2. Share your Personal Associations - The aim of good feedback is to develop your own eloquent emotional language of response. Sense into your body to see how you feel when you read or look at another's expression. Does it bring up any associations, thoughts, feelings of memories for you that you would like to share? Explore what you seen in another's art with the group.
3. See with Loving Eyes - Just feeling seen is enough to begin the process of healing. We can never judge or interpret another's expression but we can join it with love and find words to express this love.
4. Share Yourself - Good ways to start feedback:
a. When I look at your artwork I feel...
b. Your art brings up my own thoughts of...
c. My experience of your creation is...
d. If this were my collage/drawing I would see...
e. A memory that pops into my mind when I read your writing is...
f. This part of your journal page feels so strong for me...I wonder why?
4. Share What Triggers You - Part of the magic of reflecting other people's art and writing, is that it invites up unhealed fragments from your own unconscious mind to come forward for attention and love. Share why certain aspects of another's art or writing feels negatively or positively charged for you.
5. Offer Love and Encouragement - This is often all that is needed. We need others to cheer us on through the hard stuff.
6. Simply "Like" - If you do not feel ready to share but are learning from and appreciating what others are posting, let the artists know by liking their art, words, or comments.
Mentoring Others - Upon Finishing Your 100 Days
When we do our deep emotional work we become healers, teachers, mentors and inspirers. As you grow through your own emotional pain, you will have valuable insights, experiences, and guideposts to share. For members of the group who have finished the 100 days, the open sharing of your personal healing process, and what you have learned is deep medicine for the group.
1. Share Your Own Experience - of the lessons and/or your own emotional healing process. We can only mentor others through our own example. It is often helpful to preface your mentorship sharing with, "In my experience of this exercise..." Always leave room about feelings difference. "I am not sure if this resonates for you... but that was my experience.
2. Ask Questions - Questions are healing if you share why you personally feel curious. Explore your curiosity about another's creative process in a friendly, inviting way. This often ignites awakenings within an artist that they may not have considered before. Inquiry such as, "I am wondering how it felt for you to create this drawing? I feel so drawn to the....in your drawing....my experience of this part of your drawing is....what is your experience of it?
3. Model Transparent Communication - Most of us, having grown up in repressive families, societies, cultures, and religions need to learn what open, authentic expression sounds like - no matter whether it is "positive" or "negative." Transparent expression is not "over-sharing" which leaves us feeling too raw and utterly exposed. It is more just one courageous step of just going a little beyond what feels regular and comfortable for you. It is good to feel a little raw with your sharing. Vulnerability lets love and healing in.
4. Continue to Explore your Vulnerability - Continue to communicate your own emotional process. As we uncover and learn new things about ourselves, sharing it with others magnifies the gifts of our own and other's understanding. It takes courage to admit to the hard stuff, and your courage can inspire other people to share more deeply. We heal better together!
Processing Emotional Overwhelm
If on any given day of the course, you experience emotional overwhelm that feels too difficult to handle, I offer you a daily journal process to move from pain to love. You can do this exercise daily, alongside of your daily exercises to clear anger, fear, and sadness.
You can find the exercise HERE.