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Art and Self-Compassion Unite: 5 Practices

Art and Self-Compassion Unite: 5 Practices

Self-compassion is a lifelong journey. It doesn’t arrive once you are fully perfect and fitting the mold of what we have been conditioned to believe is lovable. Sneakily, it arrives in the moments when the sun hits your face just right, when you’ve just emerged from the ocean, when you are laughing with best friends, or engaged in something that brings you joy. It can be sneaky, elusive, and hard to catch until practiced enough to have it become a muscle. One way to exercise that muscle is using the practice of art for self-compassion.

Art can take us places that we can’t go in our physical bodies. It opens up worlds to demonstrate what else could be possible. There are no limits, and no mistakes. That is, if you infuse your creative pursuits with self-compassion. Bringing the practice of creativity into the practice of self-compassion allows it to sink deeper into the subconscious minds and liberate us. The power of art goes beyond what talking can do on its own because it involves the body, mind, and spirit.

Art isn’t just painting or drawing…

Art can be anything that feels like it requires creative expression – writing, photography, music, acting, sculpture, and even gardening, cooking, and dancing. Whether you are someone who loves creative expression, or you’ve never touched a paintbrush in your life, you can benefit from the opportunity for the freedom of expression that art allows. The trick is, you have to allow that. When engaging in creating art, the opportunity is there for you to leave your inner critic at the door and create for the sake of exploration. That is why self-compassion and art go so well together, they are complementary to each other in the healing process.

Intentionality transforms art

Before you begin any project, be sure to set an intention to create with the spirit of self-compassion. As you go, notice if any critical thoughts come up. Perhaps, keep a journal nearby so that you can write down whatever those thoughts are, and at the end of your project, safely burn or rip up that piece of paper as a releasing ritual. Know that those thoughts are trying to protect you, but reassure yourself that you are okay and safe to explore your creativity.

Image for art and self-compassion is of multiple brightly colored streaks of paint on a white background.
Photo by Markus Spiske

Give it a try! Here are some practices that bring together art and self-compassion:

1. Reclaim self-compassion through a body outline.

Draw an outline of your body. Use a big sheet of paper if you can, but a whatever you have on hand is fine. On it, write in all the things you struggle with and any negative things you say about yourself. As you write, feel yourself releasing them. Then, get some post-it notes and write on them how you would like to feel about yourself/your body. Be as compassionate with yourself as you would a close friend. Cover those negative messages with those compassionate post-its. Use paint, coloring pencils, pastels, and draw how you would like to feel around those new messages.

2. Create an affirmations collage.

Get some magazines and look for words and images that speak to you. Arrange them in a way to create a collage that reflects self-compassion affirmations. For example, you could find the words/letters to be able to spell “I am enough.” Add any designs that you’d like that relate to that phrase. Use whatever supplies feel right to you. You could even incorporate elements of nature like leaves and flowers. Does self-compassion require glitter for you? It certainly does for me. Display your collage in a visible place to remind yourself of your self-worth each day.

3. Write a self-compassion poem.

Write a poem about your self-compassion journey. Be as vivid in your descriptions as possible. Utilize all your senses to describe the feelings as well as metaphors, asilimies, and rhymes. Read your poem whenever you need an inspiring reminder of the importance of self-compassion.

4. Paint a self-compassion rock.

Find a stone outside that feels apt for painting. Paint this rock with colors that you love and that feel like you. Choose a phrase or image that elicits self-compassion for you and paint that on your rock. Keep in on your bedside, on the bathroom counter, at your desk, or wherever you most need the reminder.

5. Make a self-compassion box.

Get a small cardboard box, this could be a shoe box or one from a craft store. Paint, collage, draw on the outside and inside of the box. Cut small strips of paper and write messages and affirmations of self-compassion on them (as many as you’d like, I’d suggest starting with 10). Put them into your box, and whenever you need a kind thought, reach into your box and pull one out.

Let us know if you tried any of these practices of art and self-compassion! Message us @Maidenfolk on Instagram and let us know, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below!

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