Using our hands to tell stories. (Or art therapy for beginners).

First off, a left brain/right brain test. 

  1. Use a sentence (a linear word structure) to describe love. You have 5 minutes and you can use the comment section below.
  2. Now answer the same question using an object you have around you: a photography, a drawing, build or make something. Again, you have 5 minutes and you can send me what you have made if you so wish.

Which question do you find easier? 

For the majority of us, however clumsy our articitc skills, the second question is easier. Expressing feelings for all but the most sophisticated wordsmiths is not easy and there is a very simple reason for that. The part of our brain that houses our emotions does not have any language capabilities. In other ‘words’ it is near impossible to use ‘words’ to describe music, taste, smell and love. In fact, the only way we talk about these feelings is by using other ‘senses’ from the same palette, so we talk about love in terms of music, or we talk about smell in terms of food.


I love words.

Words are perhaps the most powerful tool we have. But words need to be draped over something; they need a structure, a framework behind them. Something we can hang them on.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart
— William Wordsworth

The author does not just write on an empty sheet – she has, in her imagination, an entire world that she bring to life through words.

For writers, that is a skill they have crafted over many years.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
— Robert Frost

For the majority of us, using our imagination and attaching words to it is a difficult skill to grasp. We are frustrated artists with brilliant ideas in our heads and an inability to express them. How can wee turn emotion

The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers - creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers
— Daniel H. Pink

How can we unlock the creativity inside of us? How can we turn emotions in to thoughts and thoughts in to words.

The answer is in our hands – quite literally.

Our hands are connected to 70% of our brains. Given the right tools, they can express something in our heads that we have little or no ability to attach words to.

That is what we did in the exercise. We created quite literally an object that allowed us to describe love. Our hands with all those connections, have the ability to express what is in our brains and create the frameworks and objects we can use to express ourselves.

That is why Lego can work so well – if you do not know what to build, just build something and let your hands do the talking.

Of course, you could draw, paint or use clay but Lego is practical and everyone can use it. Once you have your object, you can hang words on it, explain what it means and invite other people to ask questions. You won't know what you've built but you will be able to use it to tell a story - a story that may even surprise you

When it comes to vision, ambition, why your brand exists, what the essence of your brand is, values, behaviours, trust – serious play, using Lego, can be a phenomenal way to start to build the structures you need to hang words on and to start a logical and creative conversation.


Photo by Sebastiaan Ter Burg and JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash