Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dragon Therapy - Art

So I'm going to take a risk and share a little bit of vulnerability with you. Something happened to me that I think happens to many people today. I got totally overwhelmed. We have so many things we're taking care of, working on, planning, doing, and sometimes these things can make us feel out of control, make us feel that we are not really our true selves.

That's what happened to me and I realized I didn't have the tools to correct the situation, so I turned to a trained professional to collect those tools and begin to apply them. Dragon Therapy, which you'll see here, follows this process of healing. I bet there are things in this process that you can identify with, and I hope my little drawings bring you joy and help you to know that where there's challenge, it can be met superbly with the right tools. Click on the images to enlarge them then use your browser back button to come back to this post.

Yes I'm seeing a psychologist in order to collect some new tools.
I've only ever had counseling once before, when I went through a harrowing divorce about 17 years ago. The counselor saw me for a few sessions and announced that I didn't need her, I was fine, so I went on to raise my beautiful children and move forward in life in a big way. That counseling dealt more with mourning a life that was "cut short" which is quite different from the counseling I'm experiencing now, which is about collecting tools to facilitate empowerment.

Defining the Problem
Like everyone, I aim to please. I aim to not only do well, but to excel - to really make a positive difference in the lives of others. And sometimes I overload myself doing that. Ouch. My sketchbook shows that I've given a "persona" to this feeling of being overwhelmed - it is my Dragon - "the internal demon who kicks me in the butt and burns me to cinders, ostensibly to save me from outside dangers or my very own Self."

What my dragon tells me is that when we're overloaded/overwhelmed, our bodies go into fight or flight mechanism, but with many of the threats we face today, there's nothing to fight and really nothing to run from. They're threats about accomplishing things with limited resources, stretching and overextending ourselves till we're wound tight as a stretched out rubber band.

Learning about my Dragon
In the process of healing and attaining empowerment, I had to figure out who my Dragon is - where does it live? Where does it come from? I discovered it lives in the PAST, and it lives in the FUTURE, but rarely does it actually live in the PRESENT. What that means is that I'm "judging" what's going on NOW based on experiences in my past that were painful, and projecting that potential pain into future events. That's not reality. It can be corrected with the right tools, hallelujah!

Learning to tame my Dragon
In learning to tame my Dragon, I learn what not to do - don't try to silence it, it serves a very good, strong purpose - protection of the Self. Don't try to fight it or kill it, instead, take a step back and look at it, figure out what it needs in order to be a friendly Dragon. My therapist reminds me that Dragons can be tamed, but they will also wake up crabby sometimes, and we have tools for that (yay!).

Peaceful time with friendly Dragon, ahhhhhh

One of the most important tools I've learned about in taming the Dragon is the ability to step back and notice my own thoughts. I can ask myself "am I in emotional mode?" or "am I in logical mode?" and when I'm feeling most anxious and pressed I understand that I'm stuck in "emotional mode." So to scoot over into the balance between logical and emotional mode, which takes me out of panic and puts me nicely into a balanced way of thinking I've learned Tool #1 - "Just the facts, m'am." I'll put up the image I've drawn for this in a bit, but there's another one that comes first. That's the one where I'm discovering the triggers for my Dragon. What sends him into attack mode?

So I've examined the triggers that send my Dragon into attack mode - the things that make me feel overwhelmed, the things that trigger fear/fight/flight. The most obvious one is having too much work to do with not enough resources. No matter how much I might want to be able to accomplish this, there are times when I need to look about and find out what my resources are for taking some of the load OFF. And you know what? They are there. They are available. But you have to take the initiative to ask for them, and you have to have other people who listen to you and have the authority to get you the resources that are needed. It's okay to ask, sometimes you have to ask persistently until you are heard.

Tool #1 Think factually
Here's the image I was talking about a minute ago - Tool #1 is to learn to think factually - "The sun is out," "the sky is blue," "I am well," "I got a lot done," "I need to get some more resources on this," etc., instead of emotionally - "oh no, more clouds again," "this workload is gonna kill me," "wow, I feel overwhelmed."

More images are coming soon. One thing I want to say about my Dragon Art Therapy is that I have placed no rules on it. I am recording my thoughts in very fast, uncensored drawings and then putting color to them to help convey my feelings. This is not the thoughtful, planned, presketched type of art that I like to do for decoration, it's sketchbook art that quickly captures thoughts and feelings, giving me a way to track my progress that I can recognize, and the funny thing is, it's poignant, but also totally amusing, and even funny at times, so I'm sharing it. More to come -all comments are most welcome : )


  1. I love this!!! I've been browsing your blog for a little while, waiting for Facebook to allow me to post. What a nice break. I'll come back later, when I have a nicer slice of time to spend. We really should get together one of these days! Paula

  2. Thanks Paula! I know we should get together, hopefully sometime at your cabin, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I tried beading outside this summer and it's amazing how much better the light is during the day when the sun's out. Lugging all the associated project stuff is another story - doable, but take some planning ; )