Visual Journaling - Transforming Negative Energy With Reframing

The highly expressive art of visual journaling is one of the most effective practices/therapies for personal growth and self-reflection.  The power of art and doodling to inspire healing and transformation has been a well known secret that has finally gone mainstream with the now readily available products, books, blogs and magazines. 

Just the recording and capturing of your feelings and personal journey in a journal is therapeutic.  But if you are using your visual journal to work through issues or to relieve stress, the process can be transformational.

One technique that you may want to incorporate into your visual journaling practice is reframing.  Reframing is the ability to take a thought, idea or emotion and flip it to see it from a different or opposite perspective.  Adding reframing to your journaling adds the element of resolution, which may be appropriate for your journal.  If it doesn't fit with the style of your journaling, but you like the idea of reframing, you may want to consider a separate journal for problem solving.

To use reframing in your journaling, you would use it as a 3-step process.
  • First, create your page or an image expressing something that is causing stress, negative energy or pain.
  • After taking some time to take in and reflect on what you created and the feelings it brings up, try to envision the image in another light.
  • Allow your feelings and energy to guide you.  Don't think it; feel it!  If you feel the urge to draw or paint something totally foreign in style to you, fight the urge to ignore it - put it on paper!
  • If what you are feeling is very intense, you may need to do a few additional pages, allowing the intensity to dissipate naturally in stages.
  • Many techniques can be used to reframe or replace an image, but most importantly, it will work best if it is a natural progression, rather than forced. 
  • Sometimes, just a change in color selection can transform the look and feel.  If you used bold or dark colors, try using something softer or brighter for your reframed image.  If the colors were intense and warm, try cooling off the look with soothing cool tones.
  • You can use the same elements and shapes in a different setting or background or use something that is a similar shape for reframing.
For example, I did a drawing of a mushroom cloud and scorched earth, which in itself, deflated much of the toxic energy that I was feeling.  When some of that energy dissipated, the image that came to me was a tree, which I drew in a similar shape to the mushroom cloud.  That image and the process of drawing it helped shift my energy to a more positive state. 

Doodle Therapy - Criticism - Patricia Kay

In the example above, I was dealing with my "old friend", criticism.  I say old friend, because it has been in my life so long and doesn't seem to be ready to leave any time soon.  So, I decided to reframe it and just consider it an annoying friend that takes aim at me, but can't penetrate my new protective force field show below.

Doodle Therapy - Energy Force Field - Patricia Kay

Use the style of visual journaling that you prefer.  Reframing works well whether you use a raw style, simple doodles or a mixed media layered technique.  For myself, I like to use quick doodles done in pencil that resemble my energy state at the moment and continue drawing additional pages until I feel a shift in energy to a more positive state.

If I am feeling or experiencing something more disruptive that I need to work through, I will do something more detailed and in color.  I also make these images more simplistic or child-like to better express the emotion.

While I love the bold, more complex, layered techniques and using journaling in the image, I prefer to write on the opposite page of my journal - it's just my personal preference.  I find that for me, the more involved and detailed the image, the more involved I become in the completed project instead of the process of dealing with the feeling.  Simple, quick drawings help me maintain my focus.  I also like to refer back to my pages and would rather "feel" what the image has to convey to me in my current state of mind without the influence of the words.

I recommend though, that whatever approach to take, that you follow your heart and do these exercises in a style that is in your own voice.  Only then will it ring true and put you on the path to personal growth and transformation.

If you're like me and love to immerse yourself in the inspiration of beautiful art from kindred spirits, the following books will take you on a journey to explore and further develop your technique and creativity.  And for more information on starting your Daily Doodle Journal, click this link.

Happy Doodling!