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What Your Doodling Reveals About You

By Debbie Mandel

Spring makes me want to play and have more fun. Recently, I attended a health conference and confess that I was bored, more than usual. I don’t even think it was the speaker’s fault; I blame it on spring. Instead of taking notes, I doodled. Most everybody at one time or another has doodled in a notebook to the chagrin of many teachers who wrongly accused this student of not paying attention. What these teachers didn’t realize was that doodling helped many absorb the material in a more relaxed manner. Stress and anxiety negatively impact memory and drawing those funny little sketches was actually reinforcing facts and concepts. Also, this absent minding scribbling is a creative activity which releases images that one might suppress inside. Drawing is much more honest than words which can rationalize almost anything.

Doodling, as any respectable psychotherapist will tell you, is not an exact science and you are the best person to interpret their meaning, the way you do with a dream. However, there seems to be some similarities. For instance if you draw people without hands, perhaps you are a bit alienated or do not feel connected to anyone. If you draw yourself much smaller than other people, or at the far corner of a page, you lack confidence about your position in the hierarchy. Darker strokes suggest a bolder personality while lighter, softer strokes suggest a tenuous, more uncertain one. Or you might be sketching not to reveal anything specific about yourself other than expressing concern for a current event or reflecting on a powerful movie you just saw. Either way, your drawings hold clues to your personality. Be careful about leaving them out in the open because your drawings might be giving away secrets of your internal life.

Today I doodled while I listened to a long phone conversation. I drew arrows pointing down along with a spider in a web. I was amused by the strangeness. It helped me to tap into my gut feelings which told me to walk away from the deal because it somehow compromised my identity.

Here is what your doodling might reveal about your personality:
  • Chains symbolize restriction.
  • Circles suggest that you are in the flow.
  • Arrows symbolize that you plan to hit your target; you are ambitious
  • Eyes reveal the inner self – are your eyes happy, sad, pointed or closed? Is there something you do not see?
  • Flowers imply optimism and potential for accomplishment
  • Trees full of leaves imply that you are proud and substantial; scrawny trees suggest that you have lost your power.
  • Houses show a concern for security and family. Is the front door open or closed, a fire in the chimney to welcome others or is the house missing its windows which means that your home is like a prison?
  • Cakes could mean that you might be dieting and miss your dessert or that you enjoy the good life.
  • Clothes suggest that you are interested in making a statement and know how to reveal your status.
  • Planes, ships, cars, bicycles imply that you are adventurous and eager to travel, perhaps beyond your comfort zone.
  • Stars symbolize that you are looking for love like “wishing upon a star.”

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: