Most of us know what an art museum is and why people go there, they contain art that inspires and allows an individual to dream. We will stand around a painting and discuss the history of the piece, maybe the life of the artist, discuss painting techniques and eventually move on to another work of art. For an art museum to be successful, there needs to be a constant flow of new content. Paintings will be up for a limited time, before they are taken down and replaced by a new piece. Art Museum curators will carefully select with thought and intention what their next exhibit will communicate.
What do art museums have to do with mental health?
Many of us have experienced a negative event, a hurt in our lives. For some they can work through it and move on. For others they hold on to that hurt as if it were an art painting of high value. These types of paintings are hung in their mind, a sort of museum of hurts. This museum is frequented regularly, sometimes 3-4 times a day, sometimes 3-4 times an hour. These museums are not open to the public, they are very private. The owner does not want anyone to see the ugliness that hangs on the walls. Sometimes the owner will attempt to take down these paintings, but will be unsuccessful for one reason or another, possibly because they believe these paintings now define them.
Why would someone hold on to their hurts?
Sometimes the hurts that are hard to let go of can also provide a sense of power and identity. For some revisiting these works of hurt is met with hope that maybe this time there will be a new understanding, maybe some form of restoration, reconciliation, something. But they are left with the same thing they leave with after every visit. Hurt, confusion, bitterness, anxiety and depression.
Can Depression and Anxiety be the Outcome of Holding on to Past Hurts?
I have found in my professional work that 90% of those I have worked with have reported some negative event, situation or moment in their life when they were vulnerable, through which the rest of their life gets filtered through.
Tackling depression is an everyday commitment, much like exercise. Using the museum analogy again, you get to choose what is hung in your museum. You get to choose how much power and influence a certain piece in your museum has over you. You get to choose who visits your museum. Invite others in, commit, and stop giving power to negative points in your life.
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