By Rachel Moore, LMFT
I was recently invited along with a few dozen other mental health clinicians to a small, salon-style discussion with author Gabor Maté. When I had the opportunity to ask him a question that night, he told me I was wrong. And I’m glad he did.
If you’re not familiar with Maté, he is a renowned Hungarian-Canadian physician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, and addiction. His basic premise is the mind and the body are inseparable. Maté’s books include “When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” and “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.”
Maté is also a Holocaust survivor, and he focuses on the effects of early childhood trauma in disease and addiction. In one interview, he said: “There are genetic predispositions to addictions, but they don’t cause addiction by themselves; they just increase the risk. In both animal and human studies subjects don’t become addicted if they receive the proper nurturing, even in the presence of predisposing genes.”
Recently I checked out a pop-up art installation in San Diego called Wonderspaces. One of the exhibits was Not Myself Today. It consisted of a wall of buttons with emotions written on them. The instructions invited participants to choose a button that showed how they felt at the moment. (I picked the "Awkward" button and wore it upside down, just to be cheeky.)
It got me thinking, what would it be like if we literally wore our feelings on our sleeves (or lapels)? How would we treat one another if we knew the other person was feeling sensitive or stressed that day? Would we be curious if we saw they were feeling proud? Would we be envious if they displayed their Zen status every day?
If you're someone who doesn't usually pay attention to or understand your own feelings (or even if you do), try this as an experiment: Each morning when you wake up, write down what you're feeling. You can use a journal or your phone or even a scrap of paper. If you want to, write more about what your feeling looks like, tastes like, sounds like. Get to know it and understand it.
There's no guarantee your feeling will change if you want it to, or that it will remain the same if you so desire. What you might discover, though, is you may have some feelings about your feelings. Maybe you judge them as good or bad. Maybe you judge yourself as good or bad for having certain emotions. Just notice this. Think about how you would treat someone who was wearing that particular feelings button. Would you judge them or want to help them? Perhaps you would seek to understand and connect with that person. Or maybe you'd want to give them some space. What would happen if you took this same approach with yourself? Try it and see...
To request a free, 15-minute consultation with Rachel Moore, LMFT, and find out how she might be of help, please click here.
Six years ago I was making art with a group of people. Toward the end of our time together one of them asked how I'd decided on the colors for my mandala. I said I didn't know and it was pretty much random. The inquirer was skeptical of my choices: "Do those colors really go together?" When she said this I felt self-doubt and then justified it by remembering I've never really identified as a visual artist, anyway. So there.
Then the person next to me said, "Wait a minute," and pulled out a catalog she'd brought with her. She turned to a page with a colorful shawl displayed on it. The shawl for sale contained the same "random" color scheme as my mandala. Everyone at the table was now impressed by my artistic brilliance.
What happened there? The same colors on shiny magazine paper and worn by a stunning model instantly gave validity to my amateur crayon scratchings. Nothing had changed about my mandala, but now people liked it.
I recently wrote a guest blog post for the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma, where I work in private practice. It's about a time in my life when being creative taught me about what it means to be authentic. You can find the post here, and I hope you enjoy it: Your Voice Is Waiting For You
P.S. Please contact me if you are interested in being added to the mailing list for information about our next Artist's Way Workshop therapy group, which begins February 2017.
A post of mine was recently published on the blog for the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma, where I see clients in private practice. The post talks about why hobbies are important and how you can find one that works for you. If you don't have a favorite hobby already, or even if you do and you want some encouragement to continue, check it out here.
P.S. If you are looking for a safe, comfortable space to be creative with others, our drop-in group Coffee & Creativity begins Monday, Aug. 8.
Are you a creative person who feels like something is missing in life? Maybe you don’t know if you’re creative or not but you want your life to have more purpose and meaning. For many of us, writing, creating art, or singing are necessary for our mental and emotional health. A couple of things can block our self-expression, though, including perfectionism and trauma. You may be surprised to learn small traumas from many years ago can still be affecting you today. Unfortunately, artistic type people are often told when they are young that creativity is useless or a waste of time. These “small” hurts can build up and cause you to cut yourself off from your creativity and joy.
When my clients come to see me, I have a unique understanding of where they’re coming from because I have been and am a creative person myself. I have struggled with similar issues of perfectionism and trauma around my own creative pursuits. I am also in training for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy to help my clients overcome trauma. For more information on EMDR, please click here.
If you would like to learn more about my therapy services, please visit my website. Or contact me at: email@example.com. You also may schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to see how I can best help you.
I will be facilitating a 2-hour workshop on overcoming writer’s block June 12, 2016, at San Diego Writers, Ink in Liberty Station. For more information or to register, please visit: Unlocking Writer's Block
Rachel Moore is a Marriage & Family Therapist Registered Intern #76799, employed and supervised by Jennifer Costanza, LMFT #49250
I was recently interviewed by Stephanie Knutson of San Diego Writers, Ink about my upcoming class Unlocking Writer's Block. Here's an excerpt:
SDWI: Writer’s block is something we all struggle with, do you find it hard to help people overcome it?
Rachel Moore: I don’t find it difficult to guide people in how to face writer’s block in the short term. As with anything, it’s the long-term practice that is tough to maintain. I do enjoy helping individuals discover which tools will work best for them to continue accessing and activating their creative genius.
SDWI: I read that your specialty is helping writers, artists, and musicians rediscover their joy, can you go into more detail about that?
RM: Sure! Oftentimes in our culture creative people are put down or told their passions are not valid or necessary. This can cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to all sorts of ailments. I help my clients rediscover the joy in art and life and remember their purpose. For many people, art gives them a reason to live, which is a vital component for good mental health.
Read more here: http://www.sandiegowriters.org/?p=13319
Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy in San Diego, CA. Rachel helps writers, artists, musicians, and other creative types overcome anxiety, trauma, and depression. She is trained in EMDR therapy.