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Many Blessings for 2017!
I see many people coming into therapy in January. It is a time when many are motivated to get into recovery: from disordered eating, alcohol, compulsive spending, depression. The challenge comes when the motivation starts to dwindle.
Here is Brene Brown’s timeline for January:
January 1 — This resolution is going to be awesome!
January 5 — I’m awesome.
January 10 — This sucks.
January 20 — I suck.
Just as people’s resolutions about the vision of recovery and the life they want are starting to fall into the shame-hole of failure, I want to invite you to try a different approach. Allow creativity, love, imperfection, and not-knowing into the mix…vision collage-ing can be a way to do this. (Oh and doing it with support is even better!)
Yes, but not now:
I have something better (or different) in mind:
What are your visions for 2015? There is no wrong way to make a vision collage. Sometimes people I work with use all words, sometimes they use all pictures, sometimes they use a board and sometimes colored paper. Often they will choose magazine images that speak to them intuitively that they don’t necessarily know why. And sometimes they will choose very specific images. One of my favorite quotes is from Meister Eckart and says:
“When the Soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.”
I’m re-posting this as we are appraoching the halfway mark of the year. That means you have the opportunity to re-assess your vision collage or, if you didn’t make one, do it now!
Every year I make my own as well as facilitate a workshop on creating your very own vision collage (also called vision boards, treasure maps). People often ask me what is vision collage? A vision collage is just what it sounds like: a collage of your vision! When making this collage, you can be very specific with putting what you want 1-year-from-now, you can choose images that make you feel good/appeal to you without knowing why, or you can do both! You can also make sections of your collage for different areas of your life such as family, health, career, and spirituality. Another option, my most favorite, is just glue your images on the paper as you like and trust the process! There is no wrong way to make a vision collage.
How do I pick the right images?
Trust your gut and your right brain.
You do not need to know why something resonates for you or speaks to you. Listen to your gut. Many years ago I put an image of a bunny in a vision collage I was making. I did not know why this little bunny rabbit was wanting to be put in the collage, and my left brain wanted to cut it out amidst all of its other visions and goals for that year. But I trusted my gut and made a space for it. Later that year, as I was deepening work around forgiving and loving my father for not being there for me emotionally in some ways that I needed growing up, I remembered a small bunny rabbit he had brought home for me from a work trip he was on when I was a child. This was a cherished gift from my Dad that opened the window to the love that he did bring me, all the ways in which that love was truly enough, that my unconscious psyche had remembered and stored.
What about specific goals and intentions?
You can also use your vision collage to image specific intentions and goals. Be sure to surrender the timeline and the way these come to fruition.
It is ok, even fabulous, to have specific goals and intentions for the year ahead. A goal is a realistic, tangible and measurable outcome. An intention is a desire and a deep orienting of the self toward a direction. Both are important.
If you are like me, your left-brain is a bit obsessed with accomplishing goals. I had the goals completing the doctorate and getting licensed as a Psychologist on my vision collages for MANY years. Due to the obstacles internal and external as well as the nature of these goals, it took MUCH longer than 1 year to accomplish these. And it was important to keep setting the goals, again and again, for as long as it took. When I was pregnant and approaching my first year of motherhood, I had a sleeping baby displayed largely on my vision collage. This was an intention. This didn’t happen for either myself or my baby very frequently the first year. But it DID happen, and I took action steps again and again to orient toward that intention.
My critic has lots of derogatory opinions that block me.
Make a place for your critic and your obstacles AND do not let them run the show.
When I facilitate collage workshops, I invite people to pick an image of a chair (literally) and place it in an actual chair to make a space for their critic. The critic (that part of the self that is incessantly judging the self) will be there. It will have many opinions about how you/your collage/your goals and intentions are “not good enough, not able to be accomplished, not realistic.” When the critical voice gets louder, that part of the self is afraid of your growth. As Marianne Williamson so eloquently said, “it is not our darkness but our light that we are most afraid of.” It is important to acknowledge this voice without letting it be a dictator holding you back from who you really are and are becoming. Many years ago, in my first few years of eating disorder recovery, I vision-ed what it would be like to no longer have an eating disorder. I didn’t think it would be possible for me. I also thought that I needed my eating disorder to be a good artist. When I finally did Iet go of eating disorder behaviors, I completed my masters degree and held my first painting exhibition of all the paintings that had poured out of me once the eating disorder was no longer blocking my creativity. Listen to your fears, but do not let your critic or your obstacles run the show. Use their voices as information that you are on the right track and keep moving directly into them. If this part of the self doesn’t think it is possible to recover from an eating disorder (or whatever your obstacles are: addiction, debt, financial solvency, depression, relationship difficulties, loving your body the way it is), then go directly toward that fear! This part of the self needs to be directly confronted with opposite experience. As they say in 12 step program, FEAR= False Evidence Appearing Real and the solution is to Face Everything And Recover. Which leads me to
Isn’t it magical thinking to make a collaged vision and then expect these visions to happen in your life?
No. Let yourself dream big. And then, TAKE ACTION on it!
There is a famous quote attributed to Goethe, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” I like how the words dream and do are both here. Dream, and then DO. Obviously you have to take action to make your visions come true. But image-in-ing it is often the first step towards becoming bigger. What is most threatening, fearful and truly exciting to imagine yourself accomplishing, having, being? You have to imagine it is possible before you walk your way into it.
My first year of motherhood, I had presenting at an international conference for eating disorder professionals on my collage. I was desperate to not lose my professional identity as a new mother. I quickly wrote and submitted an abstract and got rejected. Though I felt devastated, I still needed to image this vision to begin to believe it possible to grow that big. The next year, I wrote another proposal. I looked up current research in that topic area, I gathered my own experience, I consulted with colleagues and I hired an editor in the submission process. This one got accepted.
But what if the vision of my life doesn’t look like my collage?
It’s not about the collage. Let the vision turn into the imperfectly beautiful surprise of your life.
For many years, I wanted to be in partnership with a loving, respectful, soul mate partner. I wanted to be married. Early on
in our dating, when my husband saw my massive vision collage on the wall of my home (with an attractive, respectful soul mate partner on it), he was a bit scared and taken aback. He shared “there is no way I can live up to that.” I told him, “that’s ok- me neither! We now are living (mostly) happily ever after in what Anne Lamott calls “the church of 80% good enough.”
What’s your vision? If you haven’t made your 2016 Vision Collage yet, now is the time!
Dr Linda will be facilitating a Vision Collage workshop in San Francisco on July 10, 2016, If interested in registering, email her at Linda@DrLindaShanti.com