Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Suffering from Stitching Anxiety?

In the Summer issue of O AT HOME, there's an article by Martha Beck called, "Suffering from Decorating Anxiety: Stop Fussing and Start Enjoying". As I was reading the article, I found myself substituting the word "decorating" with the word "stitchery" and the word "home" with the word "project." And see how the article reads with my substitutions (in bold text):

"Some psychologists divide all motivation into two categories: attraction and aversion. Attraction pulls us toward something good with the help of curiosity, delight, love, and desire. Aversion is the need to escape something unpleasant, whether it's fear, disgust, worry, or anxiety. Discerning between the two is another key to stitching without overdoing it. As long as you're moving toward things that attract you, you'll create a feeling of comfort and beauty. The moment fear begins to drive the process, the results will be unsettling.

Angela's incessant stitching came from anxiety, not joy. This was evident every time she tried to stop: The thought of simply letting things be sent her into a state of panic. She experienced intense emotional pain... Stitching was her way of running from these turbulent feelings.

To determine whether your stitching is motivated by aversion rather than attraction, do what Angela wouldn't: Stop acting and see how you feel. Sit in the middle of a project for 15 minutes and simple observe. If you're prone to anxiety, you'll notice everything that's "wrong" with your project... and you'll experience the compulsion to "fix" it. But if your work is attraction-based, you'll become steadily more appreciative of its beauty. You'll see previously unnoticed patterns... the appealing slant of light... the calm or vibrancy shimmering from all the colors in the project.

If this exercise reveals that you stitch throught attraction, you're in a good state of mind to improve your projects. But if aversion drives you, leave your projects alone for a while and address the unpleasant feelings that are coming up. Write your thoughts in a journal or talk about them with a friend or therapist. Then repeat the exercise of sitting quietly until you can feel calm without changing anything. If you accept your stitchery project as it is, you'll be in a position to stitch out of love for beauty, rather than fear of being present."

Hmmm...Interesting food for thought....Does that resonate with any of you stitchers out there? Sometimes we get so obsessed with our quest for stitching perfection that we miss the pure and simple joy of the process. Needle and thread up and down, in and out - simple motions that should make us all more joyful - not stressful. So maybe these words of wisdom can apply to stitchers, as well as decorators.


Coni said...

Oh, yes, I think this is a wonderful discussion! I think I fall into the attraction category, but I sometimes feel like a butterfly in a really abundant garden. There's just so many pretty things to look at/do that I flit flit flit until I fall on the floor gasping for breath. Just when I think I've seen the MOST WONDERFUL thing I turn my head and LOOK! there's something over there! Stitching is not a competitive sport. It's art. And love. And contemplation. And expression. Bravo for sharing the article and getting this stitchy gal thinking!

NCPat said...

I enjoyed reading this,too. I am in the attraction category, but I must admit to being a definate addict!

Anonymous said...

Great article thanks for changing it to show we just need to enjoy the experience of stitching. Gayle

Sarah Beth said...

That is definitely something to think about. I think I will try that exercise myself. Thank you for posting it☺