Kassi Martin's Blog
How I Let Go of Anxiety, Stress & Learned to Be Me
I would like to share a key moment in time when I really began to make deep change, releasing myself from life long anxiety and stress - particularly brought about by my Inner Critic.
Something I repeatedly encourage participants to do is to 'Let Go' and 'Go With Your Impulses' whilst painting. This leads us to a greater freedom in our every day living too, I know this personally and those who work with me share their similar experiences too.
But HOW do we do that letting go stuff? How do we free ourselves from stress, anxiety, low mood? I believe all this is tied up and neatly packaged in our Child Self.
I often ask participants 'What impulses do you have?', 'can you just go with this?' and 'Is this flowing easily for you?'
Perhaps you know what you want to do but find it hard to trust your own impulses? Our Inner Critic can be such a troublesome part of making change, causing us to feel doubtful, worried and sometimes abandon what we are creating, retreating to our old, familiar world of Just Getting On With It All?
I have been there a number of times as I was developing this way of Painting, which by the way, is a parallel to Living.
I clearly recall the very first painting where I absolutely let go and trusted... finally. What a wobbly moment it was.
I had a feeling of loosening up along with a huge impulse to allow long, wild, colourful lines to flow all over the Tree I'd carefully painted. At that point my Tree painting was all very Neat &Tidy, in keeping with my need for perfection and control back then.
Inside I had a huge desire to just let go but my Inner Critic was around, insisting I 'Mustn't' do that.
The feeling inside me was "out of control". High energy that desperately wanted to flow freely. My other part of self was really scared. She whispered warily, "If you just go with this freedom stuff Kas you might ruin your Tree painting!" She seemed a softer version of my Inner Critic. Gently cautious but definitely trying to put me off.
I felt stuck! I stood there before my Tree painting with this "inner battle" raging in my tummy. These inner battles feel like horrible anxiety. Who do I listen to?
I tiptoed around the edge of the battle and then backed away again, yet lurked nearby.
I immersed myself in one side of it - the Letting Go side. It felt so good! I felt excited, happy, free, a "didn't care" feeling of freedom from Perfection & Control.
Then I immersed myself in the other side. The Neat & Tidy way of being that had been there forever. Perfection laced its edges. Control. I knew this so well, it was so familiar for me. Steeped in anxiety. I had lived my life that way. I felt restricted. Held back. Rigid. Inflexible. Anxiety filled my tummy. I wanted to get it all 'right'. My poor young Self felt so conflicted.
I didn't like this feeling. Suddenly something began to change inside. I felt rebellious. I wanted my freedom to flow.
A new decision had emerged from my inner battle.
Oh my goodness, in that moment I realised how Painting this way reflected Life. My therapeutic world helped me with Painting which mirrored Living. Wow. What a discovery. It was all beautifully connected. Something exciting was happening in my awareness.
In my mind, I stepped back into the Letting Go, free flowing position I wanted to trust so much. I allowed my body to be filled up with all the excitement, the energy, the "don't care less about controlling anymore" position.
Nervously I dipped my brush into fluid bronze and allowed a long, wild, curling stroke to flash across an entire Tree branch. I felt scared but I liked it all at the same time. I did it again. And again. I worked faster and with different colours. I didn't stop to clean my brush but dipped into bright, metallic blue, gold, pink, orange, green...
At this point my Inner Critic had stomped off in a huff convinced a Tree 'Shouldn't' have such colours in it. I didn't even turn my head to watch him flounce off - I was far too happy painting in a letting go way and it felt amazing!
Tears began to flow from me. I was releasing myself from the grip of Neat & Tidy Perfectionism. Control. Tight shackles burst off my arms and legs. I felt free.
Tears flowed freely down my face as I pushed through my old ways of being and burst in to a new, free flowing way.
What a cathartic experience this was. My anxious tummy had relaxed. Everything felt just 'right'.
I had made a new decision to Let Go. Not just to let go when Painting but to let go in Life. I felt I was choosing to Live. To just be myself. How bad could that be any way?
This Painting was a key moment in my life. I'd been bound tightly with all the shackles and rules from my childhood to Be polite, act like a lady, don't interrupt conversations (even if I'm dying?), don't answer back, be agreeable and helpful. Always respect your elders, they know better than you, and on and on and on.... archaic, Victorian values that do not serve me today.
You know those kind of Values we are taught as children and we continue them throughout life, without question. These caused me agonising stress and anxiety - trying to get it all 'right' but 'right for whom?' Certainly not for me!
Think about this for a moment. We may be given a Value (rule) to follow without question, yet what happens if we get in to a situation where we are at risk? Then what? When our gut tells us "this is a bad situation, I need to flee," our heart is racing, we have a bad feeling in our belly - this is our Intuition. "I am going to get hurt if I don't act."
Our instinct knows, yet deep in our "Rules" department we have a Parent message that controls us. It tells us "you must always be polite, don't fight, don't be rude..." so we just stand there while the school bully drags our head back by our hair and spits in our face.
My instinct may be to run away or fight back but I was taught something different. The conflict inside can feel huge. I needed Permission to Fight or Flight. My 'parent' rules taught me to 'Freeze' instead. To 'put up with', in turn impacting my confidence and self esteem in a very negative way. This automatically led me to powerlessness and helplessness rather than Empowerment & Assertiveness. These 'rules' robbed me of my autonomy.
This takes us into a whole other realm of conversation where I believe we need to update and upgrade our Family of Origin Values to survive in the world we live in today. Our Inner Critic is there to keep us locked in the past, reciting these values, as required causing conflict internally.
And... for me, if we have children of our own, then I need to resource them with great values that offer Protection and Permission to help protect themselves and enable them to negotiate their needs in the world today.
This isn't about battering or blaming our Parents or Caregivers. I believe the majority parented from the very best part of them at that time. Me Too. But...
Today I believe we can put a whole new show on the road for ourselves and our children and to my mind this is the very best way I can help myself and others.
So this is where I find myself today. I still have the ability to slide in to my old ways. I can still "hear" my Inner Critic holding me back, berating me and trying to sabotage me.
Through my Painting process and trusting my Intuitive, Instinctive impulses I have changed. I change every time I paint this way. Every time I listen to my real self not my Inner Critic.
According to theory - Sue Gerhardt for one, we need to "Do", physically, in order to make any change. Talking about it is great but we still need to "do" to begin creating a new pathway in our Brain and a new habit in our day to day living. Painting the way in which I do is a wonderful way to learn how to do this.
If you would like a free painting experience with me to help make change, reduce anxiety & stress or lift your mood - get in touch. I'd love to help you. I have free painting experiences.
I have lots of exciting painting courses for those who love to delve. They also provide you with CPD if you require this as well as a deeply relaxing experience.
Oh and the painting that taught me to Let Go at last? That is it up there in the header. I love it! It reminds me of all I learned when I dipped my brush in the fluid Bronze and began to Let Go and Go With the Flow Of my Impulses and Intuition.
If you have a colleague or relative who struggles with anxiety or stress, maybe they would benefit from my approach to letting go and greater well being why not forward this email onto them?