art : nature : words
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
Learning from a Blackberry
August - Nature’s fruitful harvest tempts us out into the fields and hedgerows at this time of year. In town and country, pockets of people, gingerly leaning over into the brambles, go in search of the ideal Blackberry. We are possessed with finding the perfect fruit, searching out the best hunting grounds. However, we are never sure of what we are going to get - a succulent, dark berry or a sour reminder that one can never be guaranteed a sweet return. Our need for perfect fruit has a great influence on the growing and harvesting practices of modern farmers. However, the vagaries of the weather can still destroy the most carefully nurtured crops. Any life lived to the full, generally involves an element of risk and comes with the threat of failure.
When our plans do come to fruition, there is a moment of savouring and relishing our accomplishments. But then we plateau and look for the next mountain to climb.
To fulfil our goals we must start with the most helpful mind-set to apply to our cause. Turning failure into learning requires a particular way of looking at things — to see every experience as an opportunity for growth. Numerous books have been written on how to achieve success, claiming to be the definitive answer in five easy steps. But sometimes we have to take a more difficult road to find out what inhibits our full potential and diminishes our harvests.
If, as children, we are only praised when we succeeded or reach a goal, the fear of failure becomes unbearable. We may strive for success but the joy of achievement can be short-lived (or non-existent) if our endeavours are solely to please someone else. Fear of failure can manifest itself in a number of ways. We may go through life terrified that we will be exposed as a fraud, not feeling as good as the role we inhabit. We may procrastinate or end our quest just as it nears its completion for fear of our accomplishments being judged too harshly. We may become perfectionists, chaining ourselves to impossible standards.
Sometimes the seemingly juiciest blackberries all turn out to be sour. This is not because they haven’t had enough sun, rather, they grow on polluted land. As children, we can be infected by venomous criticism – a psychic poison that diminishes our confidence. We carry around fevered inner voices that berate all that we do. We can end up believing that our skills (or lack of them) are inherent. However, the wonders of modern educational psychology would suggest that out talents are not set-in-stone, they can be enhanced. By learning how to change our mind-set from one that is fixed to that of one that embraces our capacity for growth, suddenly new and fruitful harvests become available to us.
Understanding ourselves can be a bitter remedy, self awareness can bring a loss of innocence.
We are no longer the child who can attribute our success and failure to others . Instead we can take ownership of everything we achieve and of learning from our set-backs. When we find the courage to take responsibility for our actions, it is then that we create our own integrity and set of guiding principles. We can learn to sit just as comfortably with our positive attributes as well as our frailties. But this courage does not come from berating ourselves, rather from a position of self compassion, an acceptance of who were are as imperfect – that which makes us all human.
When the head works with the heart we can start to nourish our skills and innate talents.
Preparing ourselves inwardly mean we have more of a chance for the harvest to actually come to us. We stand ready in the hunt, to make the most of opportunities that arise or learn from life’s lessons. From this position of strength, we do not need to give up on the first sour blackberry but are ready to continue searching until we find the sweetest of harvests.
The Art of finding success
All too often, we seem to concentrate on our failures and find it more of a challenge to acknowledge our successes. (Especially if you are from a culture that holds modesty as a commendable attitude).
You are invited to go out into nature and forage for objects that you find interesting and are a suitable size to fit into your hand. Ideally, they will be items that feel nice as well, for instance,
a stone or feather.
Find a quiet space in which it feels comfortable to meditate.
Hold the natural object in your hand, close your eyes and bring to mind a moment which you are proud to name a success. Stay with the feeling this gave you and then imagine that this positive event is captured within the precious object in your hand.
When you are ready open your eyes again. You are invited to take care of the object of your success. Take it home with you and repeat the process whenever you feel you need to shift your focus away from negative thoughts about your achievements.
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Simon Wodward, Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist