Growing up I struggled with expressing myself. I was an introverted and angry child and due to my own anxiety I shut down emotionally for fear of becoming overwhelmed. People told me that I was hard to read and they would frequently ask me if I was feeling “happy or what?” I would have to think about my answer and since I did not seem to feel unhappy, I would say, “Of course I feel happy.” The reality was, I felt numb, dispassionate, blah. This wasn’t so bad on it’s own, a person can get through life and be just fine not really feeling anything, but my anxiety was a problem and when I did feel something, it was typically overwhelming anger and that was a problem for me. It made me feel out of control and like I was a bad person whenever it came out and I thought others judged me harshly because of it.
It wasn’t until my mother’s death that I thought I should do something about my emotions. I found it difficult to cry and grieve for my loss and that inability to express myself and release some of that grief caused more pervasive problems for me in my life from an inability to function at a job and difficulty making decisions. By realizing this I discovered that experiencing any feeling was a challenge for me. I either could not tolerate them or I could not even identify them within myself.
It took me years of work to learn how to cultivate my emotional growth. And it took even longer to talk about those feelings and express them in healthy ways. I learned that within each emotional state there is a spectrum of intensity to be experienced and opening myself to those experiences enriched my life and gave me strength through some of the most challenging times in my life.
Now, through my own emotional development, I have gained the ability to tap into my intuition, or “trust my gut” when confronted with the challenges of life and make informed decisions while feeling like I am fully living. Due to my own struggles in this area I have begun to want to work more with people around emotional development so they can feel the full spectrum of their emotions without fear of being overwhelmed by them.
So what is Emotional Development?
Emotional Development is identifying, understanding, connecting to, and working with your full spectrum of emotions. Our emotions are trying to tell us something about ourselves and how we experience our world.
What does Emotional Development affect?
What does Emotional Development look like?
Emotional Development helps those:
In the past week I have begun a personal challenge to get me into doing better self-care. This challenge I am calling "99 Days of Art" and it is exactly that, I am making art for 99 days over the course of nearly 16 weeks. I had to factor in taking time off for training days, conferences, and holidays that are coming up. The idea came to me after following some art therapist and artist friends on their art challenge journeys and wondering how they got into it. Then thoughts starting coming up for me like these, "Wow, I miss making art for just myself," and "It's been so nice making artwork lately, I really didn't do much before moving here," and "Why did I stop making art?" I realized over the past several years I had slowly stopped making art in my everyday life and it was not a good thing. I felt bereft, like something integral to my very being was missing. So I decided to create my own art making challenge in order to develop it into a practice, which would eventually become a habit, a meaningful habit that helps me feel grounded yet transcendent at the same time, but a habit none-the-less. I have been at it for 6 Days now focusing on utilizing my intuition rather than making something visually concrete and representational. Here are the products of my practice:
To follow my progress follow me on Instagram @nissajackman
I was so inspired and excited about my last piece that I made for the Violet Hive Art fundraiser, I had to make another one. I call this one, "Two Horizons" I hope you love it as much as I do!
I have been working on a special painting as a donation for a fundraiser for Violet Hive Art Therapy, the Art Therapy Collective I belong to and rent space from for my practice. The money raised will go to Violet Hive to pay for things like repairing the swamp cooler which is a necessity during a hot Denver summer. The hope is to raise enough funds to be able to offer free services or scholarships for some of the collective's programming. It's been a real pleasure working with an organization so committed to community enrichment.
How this whole thing works is wood boards that were sanded smooth were provided to anyone who wanted to create a painting for the fundraiser.
The wood and wood grain served as inspiration for my work. I used watercolor and gouache (a more opaque watercolor) paints and followed the wood grain to create "Blue Bird in Sunset"
I seriously blew it today. I had a potential client contact me via email for a consultation and we agreed on a time when I would give them a call. It was a few hours later that I realized I did not have their phone number. As soon as this realization dawned on me, I emailed them back asking for their number.
I emailed again when it was time for the call saying they could call me if they wanted.
I wracked my brain to figure out how to contact this person knowing they would think I was just another flakey therapist for missing our phone appointment.
And it was then that I saw it.
I had not only the wrong website url (I had it changed from .org to .com a bout 2 months ago), the phone number was WRONG in my email signature. I apparently had a dyslexic moment when creating my signature and switched the numbers.
Oh, so that's why I wasn't getting called back. That's why I was not getting texts from clients.
Dear lord, what had I done? This is my business, and I had sabotaged it before it even got started!
I did what I could to plug some of those holes in the sinking ship that is my private practice. I updated my email signature to the correct web address and phone number. I even wrote instructions on my contact form on this website so people will please give me their phone number so I can call them.
Technology is supposed to help us be more efficient and productive. But the more I rely on it, the more forgetful I become. I can never seem to remember my schedule. I am constantly checking it throughout the day and I have the constant urge to check it before bedtime, which completely screws up my sleep.
Because I rely on technology so much, I can't seem to navigate where I am at without my GPS, even if I have driven to certain places over a dozen times. When I was road-tripping my way to Denver I was nearly that person who drove themselves off of a cliff because I lost my GPS signal and neglected the use of my common sense.
So now I am not so patiently waiting for a response from that potential client. I'm pretty sure its a lost cause, but maybe, just maybe they will understand that it was just a mistake and no harm was intended.
Technology is supposed to make our lives simpler and easier, but why does life seem so much more complicated?
Just in case anyone was wondering, I am now working with that client in addition to many more new clients. Yay!
I did not always love SoulCollage®. There was a time that I knew nothing about it and did not want to have anything to do with it.
I first heard of it while I was at my very first American Art Therapy Association Convention and I was initially intrigued. I love collage work. I always have. I did whole book reports for an American Lit class during High School using collage and got A+'s for them. But the name, SoulCollage®, was so off-putting to me. It sounded too spiritual or hokey to me.
So I dismissed it.
Fast forward a few years and a friend from my graduate school invited me to an Intro to SoulCollage® workshop. Since it was her asking, and I will forever love collage work, I accepted the invite and paid for the course. But alas, the workshop was cancelled without rescheduling. I got my money back and I gave up on SoulCollage®. About a year later I saw a flyer for another SoulCollage® workshop and I signed up.
It was not what I expected.
It was very process driven, meaning the workshop focused on the making of SoulCollage® cards, not the underlying concepts and not a hint of woo woo spiritual stuff. I enjoyed the process. It was simple and elegant. It spoke to my sensibilities.
I wanted to learn more.
I bought the book on it, I bought materials for making more cards, and I spent the next year carefully crafting my own cards and attempting to understand the concepts presented in the book.
I wanted to learn more.
So I signed up for a facilitator's training. Within a month of the training I had to cancel, it was just too expensive.
I still wanted to learn more, so after I received my Marriage and Family Therapist license and my ATR (my art therapy credential), I bit the bullet and spent way too much money to go to the training to become a facilitator. I loved it. We delved into every aspect of SoulCollage® from the underlying concepts as a foundation, to understanding the process as a whole, to experiential work making and reading our cards, to exploring both the conceptual and the spiritual potential when doing SoulCollage®. I learned that you get out of it what you put into it. If you want a spiritual experience, you will have one. If you want to understand yourself better, you will. If you want some clarity in your life, you will get it.
So now I am a facilitator and I love it. I love making the cards, I love guiding others in making their own cards and doing a reading. I love seeing the glow of understanding and awe that lights people up when going through the whole process. It can be so transformative and satisfying.
I just love it.
Two cards I made during my last Workshop as examples. Left: Growing, a card about growth and transformation. Right: World Traveler, a card to remind myself of my adventurous side.
,Take a moment or two and pretend this is you petting my adorable, Hank the Dog...
Check out a new video I did of me painting. It has music and everything:
Nissa Jackman LMFT, ATR