The Psychology of Color

Seeing the world morph from black/white/grey to color is like an epiphany, a new vibrancy for life. The rainbow after a monotone storm is a beacon of hope. The darkest most northern locations on Earth are graced with Aurora Borealis, the streams of color dancing across the sky. I believe color psychology has something to do with the awe-struck, emotional responses to sunsets. For those of us whose vision allows us to see differences in colors, we are implicitly very reliant on them. 

In Norway

It’s interesting to notice how colors are representative on a cultural level. White wedding gowns, black in mourning, army green, rainbows for magic, joy, and pride. Nations’ flags use color symbolism, brands choose logo colors for how they want to be remembered by consumers in culture, and we associate color combinations like red and green, orange and black, or purple, green and gold with holidays and celebrations. For so long we’ve assigned colors to gender. Infants are stimulated by red and contrasts of black and white. This may be a reason why Elmo is so beloved. The activity of coloring is widely known as therapeutic to people of all ages, and some of my vivid childhood memories involve it. Opening a new box of crayons was like the equivalent to finding your shade of lipstick. Even the waxy smells and perfectly intact tip shapes cause similar excitement. In elementary school while coloring I remember instead of conversation we’d quietly call out the color we were using from the coveted 64 pack… “tickle me pink” “macaroni and cheese” “sea foam green” “burnt siena.”

Have you ever noticed if color influences your feelings, behaviors, or tastes? Red, orange, and yellow are usually felt as warm tones, and green, blue, and purple are felt as cool tones. While there is little evidence to suggest that color impacts productivity, performance, and long-term disposition, you may notice color changes influence your mood and associations. Would you be more inclined to eat broccoli if it were red? How carefully did you consider the color schemes of your wedding or home decorations to set an intentional vibe? What does your favorite color say about your identity and how you express yourself? I find the colors I’m attracted to change frequently, and rather than the color affecting my current state of mind, my state of mind is reflected by the colors I’m attracted to at that time. I’ll feel the need to wear pink, yellow tones, or black for example, and satisfying that need is a way of honoring my feelings. I also use colors to solidify my intentions for focusing on particular chakras. If my lower chakras need work, I’ll wear more earth tones, red and orange to ground myself, but if I’m feeling spiritually inclined I’ll wear my favorite deep shade of blue or purple. I’ve mentioned how green is heart related and “thinking blue” can help cultivate your communication goals and throat chakra work. I know I’m wearing the right color for the day when I feel a certain boost in empowerment. The same way I use tarot to check in with myself, there’s something called a “color oracle” developed by Johannes Schnider, a Swiss therapist, astrologer, and art instructor. On astro.com under “color oracle” you choose colors alternating between “most pleasing” and “most unpleasing.” Then, it generates an interpretation for you based on your selections. I don’t advocate for its accuracy, but I’ve found it to be a useful tool for my personal reflections, developing insight into my patterns, and how my unconscious (attractions) leaks into my behaviors. Some people do visual meditations of particular colors for particular effects. A mindful practice is noticing the colors around you. Do you see one color more often than others? 

Dyes for yarn in Morocco

Colors can reveal the way you see the world. We can quickly discover differences in view when we see purple when another insists it’s brown or your grey is another’s blue. Who would think deciphering shades of red and orange can remind us of our intimate, subjective experiences and unique ways of seeing?   

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