Creating Art—Healing Anger

Creating art can be a powerful form of expression.  It can help you heal.  It can help you learn to express pent up feelings and to give voice to those feelings.  It also can help you discover important information about yourself.  As a life coach and visual artist I have personally had this experience as well as seen it happen with other people.

Art can reflect different emotions such as:

  • joy
  • playfulness
  • anger
  • happiness
  • depression
  • frustration

There have been times when I’ve drawn with colored pencils when the vivid hues showed how great I felt.  Other times the beautiful colors helped lift my spirits when they were very low.

Anger is an emotion that people often have difficulty dealing with.  You may not know how to control your anger and find yourself lashing out verbally or physically. You may momentarily feel better that you’ve “shown” that person not to disrespect or hurt you.  Yet in the longer term your relationships at work and at home are further damaged by angry behavior.  Since anger itself is a normal emotion, harmful behaviors can be changed by learning new ways to deal with anger.

One way to channel anger in a productive manner is through art.  There are many forms of art including:

  • painting
  • sculpting
  • writing plays
  • drawing
  • writing poetry
  • playing instruments
  • collaging
  • acting
  • dancing
  • making pottery
  • composing music
  • singing

On the other hand, you may have difficulty expressing your anger.  When you feel angry yet haven’t learned how to show it, expressing anger through art can be a freeing, creative and healthy outlet.  It’s a safe way to feel and show your anger when you can’t allow yourself or don’t yet know how to verbalize it.  Art is then a first step in learning how to express what you may experience as a “dangerous” emotion.

I had a coaching client who, as a psychiatric nurse, worked a variety of shifts.  In addition, she had to oversee her father who had very early stage Alzheimer’s disease.  She had a great deal of frustration and anger with her home and work situations.  One day

she came to a coaching session. Half way through I mentioned how tired she seemed and she admitted that she had no energy.  I suddenly remembered that I had a blank flip chart on an easel in the room next to my office and knowing that she was artistic (and had had no time for such things) asked her if she would like to use some bright colored markers with me and create a fun, spontaneous “abstract work of art.”  She loved the idea and we did so.  When our session ended, she felt relaxed, had had fun, had more positive energy and was glad that we did the exercise.  As a result, she started making time three times per week to draw since she felt so much joy from it.

Finding a form of art that you enjoy, or even have a passion for, and engaging in it regularly can serve a variety of purposes:

  • Preventing Anger—art can be a fulfilling activity that helps you shift into calmer, less reactive feelings and can help you stay on a more even keel so that anger is less likely to get triggered.
  • Handling Stress—art can act as a safety valve, providing a constructive method by which you can release the anger or stress that builds up in everyday life.
  • Expressing Creativity—everyone has some degree of creativity, and art can be a satisfying and engrossing way to express a deep, personal desire that may not have other avenues of expression, especially if you think that you’re not “creative” or “artistic.”

Different forms of artistic expression offer many avenues for learning to deal with anger in healthy and productive ways.  It can also be done through anger management training.  Therapy may be another approach that is helpful for you.  Or it may be that a combination of methods will work.  Since we are each unique, it can take some time to find which approach or combination works best for us.  Yet learning to listen to our anger and developing constructive ways of using it is the goal that we want to reach!

*Originally published April 5, 2011 in Associated Content from Yahoo, Health Category