Soul Stealer and Art Therapy: Living an Unexamined Life

This is a limited weekly series about “soul stealers”. A soul stealer is something that zaps your energy and dulls your vital spark. It goes against your personal values and does not serve or nurture you. Our week five soul stealer is living an unexamined life.

Socrates spoke about the “examined life” after he was at odds with his government for speaking out. He went so far as to suggest that life was meaningless without reflection. However, we need healthy perspective and reflecting on our life is one way to enhance our wellbeing. In doing so it can create a deeper understanding and meaning.

How living an unexamined life hinders us. An unexamined life:

  • does not offer us deeper meaning and understanding
  • may have us carrying on with habits, rituals and dogma that don’t serve our higher purpose or society’s best interest
  • may be carrying out patterns of behavior and emotional reactions that are unhealthy
  • doesn’t provide for learning and growth
  • can be routine or leave us on autopilot

What are the perks of deeper introspection? The examined life:

  • creates more depth and breadth
  • helps us grow and learn
  • can enhance the quality of our lives
  • can create meaning and more richness for our experiences
  • can awaken us to positive change
  • provides us with more power and control in our lives

How do I increase self-reflection for growth?

There are many ways to reflect on our lives. One way is to work through experiences with an art therapist. I use a form of psychotherapy in conjunction with artmaking that harnesses our unconscious and psyche. It is an excellent way to bring forward stored information for reflection and it helps when words fail.

Here are some ideas to create more personal reflection in your life. Use an art journal. Write down answers to the questions that apply to you. Jot down the first 5 to 10 things that come into your mind. It doesn’t matter if they seem silly. Then circle the answers that resonate with you most. Create art around the answers that feel right to you. Use whatever colours, textures or materials that reflect the feelings around your answer.

The questions are as follows:

  • What did I learn from that?
  • Why does this keep happening?
  • Is this routine and does this serve my highest good?
  • Why does this bother me so much?
  • Am I projecting my feelings onto others?
  • What am I doing that does not enhance my life?
  • In what ways do I need to grow up?
  • Is this a societal rule?
  • Did I learn this from my family?
  • Can I absolutely know that what I am thinking right now is really true?

These questions are not exhaustive, but it covers quite a lot. This is deeply introspective soul work. Working with an art therapist is a safe and guided way to work through family conditioning and negative life experiences. We see each person as unique, and people perceive their experiences as such. Work on these by journaling and create art for deeper reflection.

"What is mine and what is yours", markers on paper, by Heather Caruso

Heather Caruso is the art therapist of Art Therapy Guelph. She offers both one on one and group art therapy sessions. For more information, contact us today. Click Here