Here's an exercise from my friend and teacher Marie Fouche.  It involves a few simple supplies and a lot of thought and self-honesty.  I have used two variations of this: one to give me a better example of what I was really looking at in myself, and one to help establish what I wanted for an end result.

Here's how it works:

Get a large piece of blank paper from a local art supply store, or you can use freezer paper or a similar item.  Use something large enough to draw a life-size outline of your body on.  Have someone draw an outline of your body on the paper, or you can do it yourself if you wish.  If your partner is interested in working with you, this is a great exercise to get some good communication going in a kind of fun way.  Ultimately, however, this is something you should do only for yourself- so keep it quiet if you wish.

After some serious thought, begin to decorate your paper with whatever you feel is important about your soul.  You can draw or paint, use pictures from magazines, articles around the house that you can glue or staple onto the paper, plants from the garden, etc.  Anything that you feel accurately reflects what you have inside.  If you are doing this with a partner, it is important not to allow them to influence your picture.  This must be about you.

For a more positive viewpoint of this exercise, you may decide to do the opposite:  decorate your picture in such a way that you find it inspirational, and place it somewhere you can see it daily.

Here's what you get from it:

There are definite pluses to doing this with a partner:  you both get a better insight into the other person, and you can help to establish some very good trust and better communication in the process.

If you are doing this alone, you can get a visual impression of how you feel about yourself, what you find important and influential about your life, and what you feel is positive and negative about it.

Here's another reason.  Often we carry so much stuff around that doesn't belong with us, especially if we have a lot of other people in our lives with whom we work closely on a daily basis (family, classmates, colleagues, etc.).  This exercise can help you determine what you truly feel about yourself and what is run-off from your environment and atmosphere- stuff you still carry around that no longer has meaning to you.  Once we get that "stuff" out- express it in some manner- it no longer effects us a deeply as it did before.  Sometimes we can finally see how little meaning it truly had and it disappears completely from our lives.  That's one of the good things about the journal as a written form of expression, but some people find visual images easier to work with.

This information about yourself can be used in many different ways.  A few I felt were important for me were:  1) establishing boundaries; 2) determining what I wanted to keep and what I felt was garbage that I had simply carried around for years; and 3) resolving personal conflict regarding self-image.  You could have as many ways to use this information as you like.

This is a counterpart to the Creating Positive Affirmations exercise.

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