Therapeutic Tid Bit of the Month – Marching Forward
If you are like most people, you thrive on positive reinforcement and disintegrate just a bit each time you are shamed or told you are wrong. So why do we give our power over to negative reinforcement oracles like scales, diet companies, and the fashion industry; all of which profit from telling us that we are never good enough? Let’s use the theme marching forward to leave old self degrading habits behind and go towards defining ways to acknowledge our strengths. Our weight is not a measure of our success or self worth. Find a new reinforcing barometer! Count good deeds, not calories. Count friends, not pounds. Count your blessings not your reps. Count on yourself NOT Jenny or Jillian.
Activity: What Really Counts!
Objective: To identify aspects of your life that you can rely on to give you positive reinforcement about your self-worth and agency in the world. To replace scales, pounds, clothing size, etc. with new tangible barometers of success and achievement.
Materials: Drawing paper, scissors, gluesticks, collage materials e.g. magazines, old greeting cards, stickers, etc., pencils, markers.
- Take a moment and think about what objects or barometers you use now to measure your self-worth. Write down the first three that come to your mind. For example: Bathroom scale, clothing size charts, calorie count, etc.
- Now take a moment and think of at least one NEW object or barometer you can use as a positive re-enforcer and measure of your self-worth. For example: Acts of kindness, college credits, friends, new experiences.
- Using your art supplies, create a representation of replacing the negative barometers with the positive one(s). This representation can take any form you choose e.g. before and after layout, booklet, abstract, new bingo board vs old bingo board, etc.
- Choose one day in the upcoming week when you will try to use your new barometer to measure how you feel about yourself and write about the experience.
- Tweak the process and try again during the weeks to come as you March Forward and learn how to Count on Yourself for defining and measuring your self-worth.
When using magazines for collage work, be sensitive to the triggering potential. If fashion magazines are in the collection, censor as needed.
This expressive arts directive is from contributing author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares a therapeutic art therapy activity or idea to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Some of these activities may need to be facilitated over more than one session, or modified for different ability levels, size of group, budget and size of work space. These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or brilliant but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient! You can learn more about eating disorder therapy here.
Image credit: Sesame Street