Creating charts and making meaning

by Kat

I was thinking about the How I Met Your Mother episode in which Marshall makes numerous charts, to the point in which the group holds an intervention for him.

Marshall: This circle represents people who are breaking my heart. And this circle represents people who are shaking my confidence daily. And where they overlap — Cecilia.

I remember my friend’s advice to diagram my thoughts, which led to my creating elaborate Venn diagrams about my history, emotional state, and social behaviors. I noticed how everything seemed to fit together when illustrated in chart form, using notecards and magic markers.  I’ve even drawn pictures around written verse — what I call prosy poetry —  about how my life had been lately. I’ve also made maps of how my week had gone with arrows linking seemingly significant things together, including excerpts from memorable conversations I’d had recently.

It helps me to see my scattered self  (poor lizard brain: in my ridiculously anxious moments) in an organized format. I feel more together somehow, as if I could make sense of incredibly messy situations. In these times, I feel horribly scattered, and sometimes drawing or writing about my experiences, and sometimes creating visuals, helps me piece myself back together — even when I only think I’m falling apart. I made a diagram describing how I could see my interpersonal experiences, Aspergirl traits, and anxiety spectrum condition using a strengths-based approach. It’s a reframing of sorts for when I feel odd or misunderstood again.

Beyond the overlap

  • I was inspired by Adulting’s flowcharts and doodles, as well as the diagrams we used to make for my logic class in undergrad [e.g., examining the four basic categorical statements (Vaughn, 2010, p. 264-268)].

Working with cI've lived this, mostly on my monologuing dayshildren means I’ve collected a lot of art supplies over the years, which I tend to use when I’m distressed or bored — especially markers and my 24-pack of Crayola colored pencils. There’s something comforting about sorting one’s thoughts using color, as if there could still be an organizing principle at work in my anxious states. Lately, I’ve been writing and then illustrating around the contents of my prosy poetry. It’s an illuminating way to process emotionally fraught concepts, and there’s coloring involved!

References: Vaughn, L. (2010). The power of critical thinking: Effective reasoning about ordinary and extraordinary claims (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.