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That being said, I also have many not-so-funny anxieties and difficult emotions that frequently make guest appearances throughout my life. A few years ago I tried cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for the first time for said anxieties and the never-ending barrage of self-critical thoughts. CBT proved to be tremendously helpful in giving me the tools to deal with various issues I grapple with.
A moment that stuck with me was when my therapist asked, “Ok, so what shape does your social anxiety have? What color?” I was stumped. I’d never thought about my anxieties and emotions taking on any kind of visual, concrete form. Later, I started reading more about and practicing mindfulness meditation. A meditation app I love to use, called Buddhify, has a track that deals with this idea of noting, labeling and personifying your difficult emotions: First, become aware of the emotion, identify and name it (ie, “judgement”, “blame”, “depression” etc), and greet it…like actually say hi to it as if it was a real person. “Well hey there Mrs. Self Criticism! So we meet again”…without feeling too contrived of course.
I loved this idea of creating a character for my anxieties not only because it felt absolutely silly, playful and fun, but because it helped me disentangle my Self from them. Often times these difficult emotions and thoughts can be so overwhelming that I feel like my emotions and I are one and the same, which in fact is not the case. Creating this little bit of space from them, helps them not have such a debilitating effect on me…plus, it’s much more fun imagining “Mr. Loneliness” as that guy who’s trying way too hard to grow facial hair, but failing miserably. These characters come and go. Sometimes they stay for longer periods of time, but they always make their ways. Gotta focus on who/what’s left.
May is mental health awareness month. I wanted to post an illustration or two of some of my anxieties and difficult emotions as I imagine them to be if they were actual characters. I encourage you to not just follow along, but get involved yourself and submit an image of how you view a certain anxiety or difficult emotion that you grapple with. For more detailed instructions see Mindfump’s post. If we get at least 15 submissions, you get a chance to win a funtastique giveaway via snail mail full of arts, stickers, magnets and tons of other treats!
Dre from Things Dre Makes
P.S See Dre’s #PersonifyME entry here!