• Lou Platt

Ment-Well #4: What Parts are Responsible?

Author: Yuyu Wang


Responsibility to Wellbeing with the Arts:

Where do they lie? Who’s responsible for what and when? What barriers are there that block us taking proactive steps in looking after our wellbeing?


There was some nice piano music playing when we entered the room, waiting for people to arrive. Soothing and comforting while you see people’s faces showing up in the latest zoom fashion. Settle in. Take your time.


I always find it strange, even after several months of zoom meetings. We can’t sit in a circle, notice each other’s small body language, appreciate their new pair of shoes. The linear eye contact. Zoom has fixed us in this rigid square, but it also brings people from different places together.


Notice how you are feeling. Curious and accepting.


Key word to explore: self-energy *


Like the conductor of our inner orchestra. Self-energy is our core, our "essence", the part of us that, when we're in connection to it, we feel grounded and expansive, present and playful, alive and belonging. Self-energy is always benevolent and is Compassionate, Connecting, Curious, Calm, Clear, Confident, Creative & Curious.


We talked a lot about compassion and ‘parts of self language’.


Our emotions are feelings are always complex and even conflicting sometimes.

e.g. Do I go out for a run or not? Do I order takeaway or not? Do I want to read this article or not?


Maybe a part of me wants to go for a run but another part wants to stay at home and eat ice-cream. However, we often tend to describe our feelings as a whole.


e.g. I feel anxious today.


However, actually, there might just be 80% of me feeling anxious. The rest 20% might feel something different.


I have learnt to clarify my anxiety today by saying “a part of me is feeling anxious” instead of “I am feeling anxious”.


So.

Don’t disable other parts and resources.

Create space for another part of yourself to come in and offer something else.

Allow the transience of feelings and parts.

Allow them to come and go rather than getting fixed to them.


Also.

Connect with your self. Feel that self energy.

Be present and expansive.


Every part of yourself has a good intention.


Key word to explore: to-do list


We spent some time exploring the idea of to-do lists. Sometimes people get into the habit of writing an unattainable to-do lists that create a never-ending cycle of to-do lists.


So.

Take one step at a time.

You can’t climb the Mount Everest in one day.

“If you do one thing a day to help with your career and make that to-do list achievable, you will be more happy.”


To do and undo a To-Do list

(poem/creative writing by a group member)


Make To-Do List

Add on and subsequently cross off the things I’d already done

Stare at To-Do List

Worry about the length of To-Do List

Do the easiest, most accessible thing on To-Do List

Feel slightly more contented, cross it off and put To-Do List down

Start to feel guilty about not completing more on To-Do List

Frantically add more to To-Do List for tomorrow to make up for it

Feel confident that tomorrow will be the day for the To-Do List

Repeat


Also.

We write to-Do list, but never to-Be list.

What is your being today?

Should we write one of the to-be lists?


Key word for today: responsibility


Where do they lie? Who’s responsible for what and when? What barriers are there that block us taking proactive steps in looking after our wellbeing?


Question: who is responsible?

Lead artist.

Director.

Everybody.

People.


So.

It is a shared responsibility to look after each other’s mental wellbeing.


I am responsible to communicate my needs.

I am responsible to listen to other people’s needs.

When our needs conflict with someone else’s needs, I can try to accommodate or compromise.


Give as much as you are able to.


Also.

Explore relationships as artists.

Past experiences influence who we are.

The power of being a reflective practitioner.

Find out about how your inner system works.


Knowing what you need is a skill.


Question: “Sometimes I don’t know what I need. Sometimes I might know what I need but I can’t communicate it to others. I fear being rejected.”


It’s the perfect opportunity to practice saying “part of me”.


“There’s a part of me that fears rejection, but there’s another part that really wants to express.”


Wellbeing thrown out of the window with time/money pressure.

Internal dynamics.


Question: what if I sometimes absorb the negative feelings other people have?


The answer is—

Squeeze the sponge!


“Squeeze the sponge. What colour isn’t yours? What colour belongs to someone else? What colour are you carrying that is not yours? Brown, you say!? Squeeze the brown out from the sponge! Squeeze the sponge!”

Get bouncy again.

Enjoy it, let the paint drip down your arm, and … let go, release, allow space and air and buoyancy.

You are full of potential spaces again.


Key word to explore: firefighters *


Who are the firefighters?

They are parts of self that come in when our vulnerabilities are exposed, and our inner managers can’t contain them. It is like going to extremes to make me feel better (like getting pissed, binge eating/watching Netflix, running more than I should, and sometimes self-harm), but then feel bad.


Blowout.

Firefighter mechanism is the extreme responses to vulnerability.

We feel tired and sad when having to function firefighting for so long.


So.

Send those parts gratitude for their good intention.

Connect with them.

Try to understand them.

Find your recalibration.


Also.

It is a coping mechanism.

It is creative adjustment.

This is parts of myself being creative to help with other parts that feel vulnerable.


A little firefighter sits in the dark. Curious. Anxious. Lonely.

Do you hear something? The siren sound.

The firefighter jumps up and rushes towards a fire engine. He does not know where to go, what to do, how to help those in need.

“I will just try my best.” He murmurs to himself, “I will give you lots of this. You can do lots of that. Just distract yourself. You will feel better.”

It is me who is on fire.

“Sure I will try what you suggest. I will have lots of this. I will do lots of that. I will distract myself. I will feel better.”

Actually no. I don’t feel better. Maybe I do feel better for a bit, but it quickly disappears. I feel worse about myself now. Much worse.

“You are not helping! Now I’m a mess! I’m exhausted!” I scream.

The siren sound continues.

“Sorry I’m not helping. I’m just trying my best. I want you to be safe.”

I realise how rude I am when I look at the little firefighter in the eye, his face covered in dust, clothes getting dirty and hair messy.

“Sorry I should have known that.” I stare down at my hands. “Thank you for your help. You’ve worked hard to make me feel better. You’ve been creative too. I did feel better temporarily but it’s not working in the long term.”

Let’s stop the siren sound for now.

“I’ve known you better now. Thank you my little firefighter. Let’s work together.”


Thank you firefighters.

Thank you for your good intention.


I will learn to squeeze the sponge.

I will learn to communicate my feelings and needs.

I will learn to make doable to-do list.

I will learn to understand my being today.


* To learn more about Self Energy and Parts of Self, look into Internal Family Systems Therapy.


What are 'Ment-Well' articles?

Between July and October 2020, eight early-career theatre makers will come together to explore different aspects of their making process. They will be guided by writer, theatre maker and performer Caroline Horton who will facilitate five Mentoring sessions. In between the mentoring sessions, Artist Wellbeing Practitioner Lou Platt will facilitate Wellbeing sessions. In a hope to share discoveries and learnings with the wider community, each participant will create a 'Ment-Well' article that will capture something of one of the nine sessions. These articles are for collective self-reflection and a transfer of knowledge. They are to be approached by the author and audience with a sense of lightness, spontaneity and curiosity, and may be a seed or starting point for further thought and exploration - nothing more, nothing less.

Group members:

Radhika Aggarwal, Emily Beecher, Vicki Hawkins, Caroline Horton, Ant Lightfoot, Charis McRoberts, Lou Platt, Rebecca Saffir, Yuyu Wang, Caroline Wilkes.

©2017 BY ARTIST WELLBEING. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM