Healing Arts Report

Practices for an Evolving Life

They Don't Tell You How

“You need to love yourself more.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Always put other people first. Don’t be selfish.” The one thing that is missing from all this good advice is telling you HOW to do it. We introduce you to practical tools using your own character traits to support you in creating practical answers to those questions. Read more here.

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Books

Two memoirs tell about times of extreme personal growth in the author’s life. Sunny Side Up is a window into the early 70s when certain young adults were searching for a way to head off society’s path bent on materialism. The Transparent Feather tells of a dying author passing the torch of writing to her new friend cum student.

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Mission

You can love yourself and other people as well. At Healing Arts Report we explore fulfilling personal development that at the same time serves to create the shift to a peaceful new world paradigm.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung

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Blog

Positive Regard

Life is hard enough for people without purposely discouraging them. I call it emotional abuse when an adult responds to a child’s or another adult’s wish for a creative experience with something like:

“You can’t make money doing that!”

What do you want to do that for?” (see thirteen-year-old’s story)

“You have no talent for that.”

And here’s the one that astounds, “Who do you think you are?”–as if the very wish for change were an act of conceit.

I can’t count the number of times clients tell me that a family member or a teacher, people who are playing a foundational role in their lives, said one of these lines to them, purposely discouraging them from following a dream.

And it can take so little to discourage or encourage.

An art teacher at my high school who was never my teacher came up to me in the hallway and said he’d heard I was applying to the Art Institute for college where he taught Saturday school classes to teenagers. I said I was but that I was having a hard time preparing the required portfolio and it was due soon. I didn’t know if I would make it.

He said he knew I could, that he’d heard from one of my teachers that I was a very good student. “Stay up all night if you must, but get it in. Promise me you’ll do that.” That was my only interaction with him and I did it—and got into the program.

I felt so moved by his caring enough to seek me out that I was able to accomplish what was to me a lonely and near impossible task, as no one else in my life had an interest in checking up on my application process.

Years later, I taught a combination art and psychology class that I called Perceptions. It was a class for adults who did not necessarily know they would have to take art as part of a meditation-related program they’d signed up for. Many of them had stories about being told by teachers as children that they had no talent or that they weren’t drawing something in the right way.

We worked in silence during my class so that the students would not distract each other and could connect with a less self-conscious place deep within. The task this day was, “Write a chronological list of the people who had done something for you.”

As usually happened near the beginning of the year, there was a flurry of questions wanting guidance on how to go about it. My answer was: Use your own discretion. Make up your own parameters.

About twenty minutes later, after most people stopped writing, I gave a two-minutes-more-to-finish warning for those who were still going strong.

I asked the class how they went about making their lists? Answers included:

I discriminated between those who seemed to me to really have their heart in doing something for me, the ones I felt really cared about me and I eliminated the ones who seemed casual or incidental.

I realized that everyone I knew gave me something and I could go on forever with my list.

I mostly wrote down all my schoolteachers. To me they were who gave me the most.

I realized that everyone gave me something even if I didn’t like it, and that even what I didn’t like was often helpful to me.

I asked if anyone wrote down the names of people they didn’t know personally. Several people had written the names of musicians.

I asked if anyone had noticed any feelings while they were writing. One person said he almost began to cry. Another was overcome by a feeling of gratitude, and another said he was uncomfortable remembering certain incidents.

I asked if he had a sensation in his body. He said he felt tightness in his belly. In a counseling situation I would have followed up but we were there just to increase awareness. Another person said he noticed a warm feeling in his chest as he was writing.

Keeping with the intention of the class, this somewhat psychological exercise was not to engender any particular thought, feeling, or sensation, but just to expand the students’ understanding of possibilities and to appreciate each others’ experiences as well as what might be the uniqueness of their own.

By increasing our perception of the variety of experience, perhaps we’ll also increase our tolerance and positive regard for other people, including our children.

PRACTICE: This is an easy exercise to try on your own. I recommend starting from your earliest memories, write them down, and stop writing long enough to at least take a breath after each one.

CONTACT. If some of these memories have a disturbing emotional charge, contact me for a free 20-minute consultation and we’ll start work on releasing the charge. If we don’t finish, I’ll explain  how to finish it on your own–a skill worth acquiring.

Discussion

3 Responses to “Positive Regard”

  1. I have heard, and feel I have experienced, that positive regard can save a life. It can definitely save an inner life. Thank you so much for this post!

    Posted by Beth Raps, RAISING CLARITY | July 30, 2013, 3:46 pm
    • If it’s not too private an experience, would you be interested in saying more about the experience that makes you say positive regard can save a life? Because we each experience things in such a different way and under various circumstances, i think it’s helpful to hear from diverse people.

      Posted by BJ Appelgren | August 1, 2013, 10:10 am
      • Not at all, BJ, thanks for asking. And it’s less about me than something I read once that resonated deeply, that when you are a child, even one sane, caring adult witness with even a moderately stable presence in your life can make the difference between you killing yourself ultimately (quickly or slowly) and choosing not only to really live, but to give back. This witness, this presence (I think) teaches us correct human attachment–not the attachment of Buddhism, which we rightly seek to divest ourselves of–but sane, loving longlasting connection without which our lives are not just struggling to remain meaningful but painful in a way that deserves deconstruction: literally, full of pain that is not productive because we cannot build relationships. That unconditional positive regard can save a life seems to me also to have been my own experience on several truly blessed occasions, and I think I have seen it in others’ lives as well. Again, thank you for this witness of your own.

        Posted by Beth Raps, RAISING CLARITY | August 2, 2013, 4:05 pm

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