Art as Therapy — Relate Positively to Yourself

In the previous installment, we discussed the three self’s and how they affect the way view and relate to ourselves. In this article, we will discuss self-esteem a little more in-depth as well as cover some art therapy exercises that will help you relate more positively to yourself.

What is Self-Esteem and How Does it Affect You?

Self-esteem can be defined by the personal value that we believe we have when considering our skills, traits, achievements, and abilities.

Self-esteem is mostly a subconscious evaluation based on a summary of opinions about ourselves as opposed to concrete facts. Suffering from low self-esteem is, unfortunately, extremely common and can be easily developed by negative life experiences.

It’s also important to note that self-esteem refers to a long-lasting view of yourself, not how you feel in this moment. For example, after a huge accomplishment, you may feel increased pride and joy over what you have achieved; however, if you suffer from low self-esteem, the temporary feeling of pride may quickly fade.

Low, High, and Secure Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, professionals don’t agree on how to move from low self-esteem to a secure and realistic self-esteem without the risk of developing a potentially egotistical narcissistic attitude from a lofty view of yourself.

Self-esteem can be categorized into these three groups:

  • Low — poor view of self
  • Fragile high — egotistical, entitled, self-serving
  • Secure — stable self-esteem with a realistic recognition of both positive and negative traits and a positive sense of personal worth.

Drawbacks of Low Self-Esteem

  • Pursue unhealthy interpersonal relationships
  • Exhibit unhealthy health habits
  • Show dysfunction in emotional expression

Benefits of Secure High Self Esteem

  • Increased social status
  • Decreased feelings of rejections from social groups
  • Reduction of depression and anxiety
  • Improved healthy habits
  • Improved work and academic outcomes

Art Therapy Exercises That Help With Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Just as self-esteem can be impacted by life experiences, it can also be improved through therapy. As you become more familiar with the underlying reasons for your self-esteem, you can take strategic steps to improve it.

Phases of Self-Esteem Therapy

  1. Assess current self-worth
  2. Discover the origins of your self-esteem
  3. Develop a plan to improve your self-esteem
  4. Measure self-esteem after treatment

Here are some helpful exercises that may assist you in developing a healthy self-esteem and reduce negative thoughts about yourself:

  • Write a list of 10 strengths or skills
  • Explore the concept of your uniqueness in the crowd of society
  • Draw or paint your fear of rejection
  • Create a piece of art that reflects your negative image, then adjust it to reflect your positive traits.
  • Create an image of your compassionate self and define the qualities of a compassionate self.
  • Create a collage of things you like to do that make you feel proud.
  • Create a tower of self-esteem. Explore positive statements about yourself and place each statement on top of the other to build the tower higher. Explore qualities, talents, skills, achievements, and strengths.
  • Create a circle of negative statements that shows the impact of negative statements in a feedback loop; then, explore how to break that cycle.
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