‘Dear Leaf’: creativity and accessing feelings you didn’t know were there


I tend to think a lot about things. About everything.

I am beginning to realise one of the biggest problems with thinking too much is:

You can’t engage fully with how you feel. Your brain is too noisy. Too full of self-judgment. Too full of ideas pertaining to should’s and can’t’s.

I am currently undertaking a Certificate in Humanistic Counselling course. Today we did an exercise in using creativity to help with accessing one’s feelings. Why? Because when you create without engaging your thoughts too much, what is simmering away unconsciously can come out.

We went outside and found an object that resonated and then brought it inside where we could either write or draw to express further what it connoted.

It can be easy to give a cynical scoff about this sort of touchy-feely ‘mumbo jumbo’ but if you struggle to articulate your feelings into words, why not give it a try? Spend a few minutes reflecting on whatever it is you’re going through. Take a walk and pick up an object that resonates. Go home and write a letter to it, write a poem, draw, paint. See what you discover.

Here is what I picked up:


The activity helped me to reflect on how many experiences in my life I haven’t properly processed. I may have thought about them a lot, yes. But have I actually externalised the feelings involved? Probably not. Have I acknowledged the impact they had? Obviously not.

I am where I am at now because of several losses and periods of transition, not just one or two major ones. I need to be better at bearing with myself through it all. I need to give myself a chance to process things and not sweep them under the carpet.

Here’s my letter to a leaf:

Dear Leaf,

You are battered. You have lost parts of yourself. This was inevitable. You didn’t invite it, it was just part of being a leaf. You succumb to the inevitable changes of the seasons. You must endure the storms and the drought. Pummelled by elements you couldn’t foresee. But you’re still here. You survived and continue to. In a new form. The core of what you are has held you together and sustained your essence.

Leaf, you need to deal with the gaps and and embrace your story. You won’t return to what you were. Instead you’ll learn to embrace your new beauty. The beauty of change. The beauty of vulnerability. The joy that is deepened by its contrast to pain. You don’t really know the half of what’s changed. There are the smallest breaks in your structure as well as some gaping holes. 

But, Leaf, you’ve done well to get this far. Better than you think. 


Why not give it a go? Let me know if you do.


Add Yours
  1. Becky Marsh

    I love this post. I find creative things like this really helpful myself.. I think that’s why I like cutting paper and drawing, or doodling on my skin, or creative writing so much.. as I genuinely find it therapeutic or that it helps me to access or express things.. infact, funnily enough, I once found a stray feather in a field and then found myself writing a bit of creative writing as a letter to the feather after, as it helped me express something I was feeling, so it made me smile to read your letter to the leaf. Lots of love xx

    Liked by 1 person

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