Sometimes, these events can be difficult to process. It’s not just the impact of the trauma, but making sense of the repercussions. The loss of a job, for example, might have financial implications that relate to the well-being of our families, as well as our basic ability to function in everyday society and pay bills everybody else would grumble about but take for granted.
Everybody deals with issues differently. Some charge ahead, without giving themselves time to think, accept, and reconcile what’s gone on. Instead, they bury it deep somewhere where it can bubble away until they’re ready to deal with it – if at all. If you believe in new age gurus and the like, unresolved feelings can manifest into physical ailments.
Others switch off, if not shut out the world, or medicate to dull pain – whether that’s medicating through drugs or alcohol, or even eating, or some other binge behaviour (e.g. shopping). This isn’t so much about coping but desensitizing. The pain remains. We just dampen it until we get used to it.
Few of us truly learn to deal with setbacks, to assimilate them into our lives, and to move on. It’s just not something we’re taught, either by family or in schools. So we stumble, put ourselves back together as we best can, and move on – or at least try to resume moving forward. For many of us, moving forward equates with equilibrium being restored, even though it might not have been.
Art – in any form – is something that allows us try to make sense of what we’re feeling. The reason for this is there’s no wrong or right to the outcome. It’s not like a mathematical calculation, which can have only one right answer. Stories can take any evolution to get to their destination; poets are often flaunting the rules; and painters can be indifferent to precision (as in reproduction) as long as their work captures what they’re feeling.
Put twenty people in a room and tell them all to draw the same black cat, and you’ll get twenty different black cats. Ask them to describe that same room, and there’ll be twenty different interpretations. We all think differently, view the world differently, and express ourselves differently. We are unique and no matter how similar two people can be – consider identical twins – they never are.
When you do face problems in your life, art is a perfect way to explore what you’re feeling and to try to make sense of it all. Art can deal with abstracts and help conceptualise them into manageable (or at least understandable) commodities. Moreover, art can help us find our way, to deconstruct our turmoil and reconstruct it into something we assimilate and accept into our lives. Nothing else works on quite the same level.
Next time you face a setback and are wondering how to cope with it, give art a try.
To that end, Busybird will also be hosting a Creative Arts workshop beginning Tuesday 8th October. The workshop will run for eight weeks, with three hours per session, and explore your relationship to stories through different mediums – painting, drawing, sculpting, journaling and collage – with a qualified art therapist. Feel free to email or phone us with any queries or bookings, or you can book via Eventbrite by clicking here.