Decorate an envelope to represent how you present yourself to others. Fill the envelope with things that represent your qualities, values, important parts of your identity and heritage, that others don’t often see.
What you’ll need: At least one other person, two large A4 envelopes, coloured pens and pencils, old magazines for collage, glue
What’s it for?
We often present a version of ourselves to others while still so many of our qualities and values remain hidden. In this activity, you decorate the outside of a large envelope to represent how others see you - the ‘outside’ version of yourself, and make images and cut out pictures to represent some of your other qualities and values that are often hidden from others - the ‘inside’ version of yourself.
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
It’s good to do this activity with a partner who you trust and with whom you have a supportive relationship. Both partners should follow the instructions below and then share with each other at the end.
Firstly, think about how you present yourself to others, and how they might perceive you. Are you a noisy, fun loving person? Or a rather quiet, polite and studious person? Do you like to play videogames? Do you like to lose yourself in a book or film? Are you very social or do you prefer to spend time on your own?
Using the art and collage materials, make a representation of how you present yourself to others on the outside of the envelope. You can approach this in lots of different ways - do what feels right to you. You might make a self-portrait which includes some elements that represent other aspects which are important to you, you might want to incorporate text.
For the inside of the envelope, cut out and make things that represent parts of yourself that you don’t feel are known by others. When you’re thinking about this, think about those qualities, values, and aspects of your identity and heritage that perhaps aren’t immediately apparent.
There’s no right or wrong way of doing this and you might include some fun things along with more reflective or what you might consider to be important ones.
When you’ve finished, show your completed envelopes to each other. See if your partner recognises your ‘outside’ version of yourself, and how much you recognise your partner from their ‘outside’ representation.
Only sharing as much as feels safe and comfortable - there’s no pressure at all to share everything - share with each other your ‘inside’ representations.
Did you learn anything about each other?
Do you feel closer to your partner after sharing your ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ versions of yourself?
Extra Activity: This is a good activity to deepen a relationship with a trusted friend. Discuss your 'outside' images with your partner. Would they have chosen the same things to represent you?
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
Was it easy or difficult to think of how you might come across to others?
Did you learn anything new about yourself while you did this activity?
Did you learn anything new about your partner?
Are there any ‘inside’ qualities that you’d like to incorporate into your ‘outside’ version of yourself?
This activity helps you to understand your relationship to yourself and others. Different people and contexts do bring out different facets of our personality - what is ‘outside’ and what is ‘inside’ can vary depending on lots of factors both personal and external.
This exercise was based on the idea of the Johari Window (Luft & Ingham, 1955) which divides the self into four quadrants: open, hidden, blind, and unknown.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
Luft, J.; Ingham, H. (1955). "The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness". Proceedings of the Western Training Laboratory in Group Development. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles.
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Created by Ian Grundy © June 2022
Creative Arts Used: Art, Creative Writing
Psychological Areas Explored: Emotional Wellbeing, Emotional Literacy, Self Exploration, Relationships
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These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
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