By Tia Richardson
As an artist, having clients means putting into practice a culture of communication based on working with and for someone else. To me, working ‘with’ and ‘for’ is a language built from a principle that what we give energy and attention to attract that same energy. I try to use and apply this principle in everything that I create, but it can be difficult when there is so much negativity in the environment. I’d like to share some techniques I use to help others acknowledge the negativity and then to transform its potential using the power of visualization to paint a brighter picture.
We are wired by nature to recognize and perceive threats; this is crucial to our survival. In fact, studies have shown that our brains automatically notice the potential dangers in a situation rather than the other way around. This leads to ingrained patterns in our thinking that give us a fully developed ability to notice what we don’t like or believe is wrong about a situation, rather than what is pleasant or pleasing.
This pattern in thinking comes up repeatedly when I am working with people, young and old alike, on a collaborative creative project. When faced with questions about hope, or change, or any number of ‘isms’ and social issues we presently face, it is very difficult for people to imagine what that hope or change looks like with much detail. I usually get the kind of ideas you’ll see on any protest sign, such as ‘Stop’, ‘Don’t’ or ‘No’ to this or that situation.
It’s harder to name what we stand ‘with’ and ‘for’ than it is to name what we are opposed to or against, because what we are opposed to or against has either already happened, or we are afraid of it happening (an easily recognizable threat). When naming what we stand ‘with’ and ‘for’, we have to imagine an outcome or condition that may only be minutely present at best, or is, in some eyes, nonexistent. As an artist, I strive to conjure up any minute feeling present of the experience I DO want; to name it, to picture it, and to facilitate others in naming and shaping what we each want together, in order to amplify that outcome.
In order to get more concrete in imagining this scenario, I’ve found that it helps to ask people to focus on naming specific qualities about a situation they feel are missing or being taken away. For example a sense of freedom (religious freedom); a sense of belonging (immigration), a sense of security (abuse of power, such as in police brutality or human trafficking.) And then to get concrete by asking: ‘What does a culture of belonging look like and feel like? How are people behaving? What do we notice in our environment?’ Enlist our five senses, and sixth if you believe in that (I do!) to call up images of a scenario where we are experiencing our desired reality. And then we will paint a mural reflecting that as a vision for others to use, if they desire!
Why might it be important to focus on what we are ‘with’ and ‘for’ rather than what we don’t want or are against? Because it is becoming more widely prevalent, the notion that thoughts are things and the field of quantum physics has even taken some measures to demonstrate this. Everything in the world gives off a vibrational frequency. There isn’t much dispute to this in the scientific community anymore, though it isn’t completely understood. Even our thoughts give off a frequency.
The Law of Attraction says that the vibrational frequency we are on will attract more of that same frequency through the phenomenon of resonance. So the power of images is that they too emit a frequency, and as creative beings we can use our powers of intention to put a picture into the world that attracts a higher frequency (a more positive one). When we build it with an intention that is beautifully detailed in quality, scope, and even concrete feelings and ideas, we amplify the frequency! Working in this way serves to lift others emotionally too, as they ‘find’ that higher note in the physical environment when they may be feeling low and searching for something to resonate with.
The truth is, there is always dark and light present in every situation, so it isn’t minimizing a negative condition by using a more positive image. It is a choice each of us makes. The key is to accept what we are feeling whether it’s grief, suffering, or a sense of unfairness; and then honoring it by giving ourselves permission to ‘see the bright side’ – because it’s always there!
The magic of it is that the quantum world says there are many dimensions existing simultaneously. As an artist I translate that to mean – whatever we can imagine, dream or conceive of now – already exists! And this is why amplifying our dreams or desires together by putting them into a picture is important work!
This collective act alone of communicating, of negotiating what we want, serves us in a way that I believe already brings us closer to a better humanity. Being specific about how it looks and feels helps reinforce and bring into being the picture (the reality) we want to paint. Then, we can come up with some really creative mantras about who and what we are ‘with’ and ‘for’ that may inspire others to act from that positive note!
I am WITH and FOR a culture of COOPERATION across racial lines, religious and political ideology. To me, that looks like on TV news shows, everyone is listening without interrupting one another! It looks like people hanging flags that represent cultures and religions other than the one they ascribe to on their front doors, saying ‘You are welcome here’. It looks like strangers shaking hands, looking the other kindly in the eye, and asking a sincere question to learn something from the other as they pass by on the street!
In the current climate, I believe it is really important that we continue to communicate with each other and be specific about naming what we are ‘with’ and ‘for’, and what that looks like and feels like! So many people are already doing this together, in the U.S. and in the world. I believe this gives lift to our wings, a sense of cohesion, and can help guide us on our journey.