This blog article is the last in a series of 4 articles about mental & emotional self-care that I’m posting, to coincide with a series of workshops that I’m offering.
Our thoughts and emotions need active management – they don’t manage themselves.
In the same way that we physically need daily food, water, fresh air and moderate exercise, we have emotional and mental needs that also need to be addressed on a regular basis.
Consider the following analogy – it has been vastly helpful for my clients!
Think of your brain as your inner “house” and the rooms are your emotional experiences, thoughts and memories. Your emotional and mental processes are connected by hallways and stairwells and protected by an outer shell and a roof.
The rooms of your house are your shelter, the way that you live in the world. They are there for your exploration and appreciation. But your house also requires regular cleaning, some maintenance, some renovation or repairs in order to maintain a state of health. In other words, it requires CARE. We can’t ignore our inner house and then wonder why it falls into disrepair. Present neglect is a good predictor of future crisis.
We need both passive & active elements of care. We can passively sit inside our house, look around, really take it in and even appreciate it. But what if we never actively cleaned it, never dusted, never took out the garbage, never fixed anything, never gave away old stuff, or never got anything new? How well would our house function? How comfortable would it be to live there? How pretty or enjoyable would our “rooms” be to hang out in, if every time they needed organizing or cleaning or fixing, we decided to sit and smoke a joint instead? Or eat a cookie? Or drink? Or take a pill?
How well would it function if we crossed the purposes of rooms that shouldn’t be crossed? Have you heard the saying “Don’t shit where you eat”? This little nugget of wisdom makes total sense to us, and yet in the interior landscape of our mental & emotional house, we can get our wires crossed. Those wires are the hallways that connect our rooms. We would never consciously put the toilet in the kitchen beside the sink, but mentally and emotionally, we do that all the time. We cross memories with present realities, we have traumas that invade our joy and steal our sense of contentment. We apply our past experiences to predict our future outcomes. Ideally, these should be separate rooms with clearly defined boundaries yet fully accessible hallways and stairwells. Well organized, fully explored, rooms fully connected but not crossed.
Ways to Navigate your Mental / Emotional House:
-Instead of being scared, decide to approach your rooms with curiosity and interest.
-Explore unused rooms or open doors.
-Close doors that are open too much.
-Turn on the light.
-Softly dim the light if it’s too bright.
-Look inside the shadows and in the dark corners, again with curiosity and interest.
-Connect rooms that are disconnected from the main house or hallway.
-Merge rooms where necessary.
-Disconnect rooms that shouldn’t be connected.
Tools for Passive Care:
-Attention / observation / focus (sit in the room & observe). I love the practice of mindfulness for this.
-Acceptance / Allowance. Remember that acceptance does not mean agreement. Those are two different things.
-Appreciation / Gratitude.
-Goal-setting. You can set an exploring or cleaning schedule or goal just like you would with your physical house!
Tools for Active Care:
-Cleaning / Organizing / Prioritizing / De-clutter.
-Revamping. You can revamp or renovate any room as necessary.
-Rewiring / Repair. You can also rewire or repair any room, hallway (connection) or stairwell as needed.
-Building new skills or improving existing skills.
-Acquiring new knowledge.
-Replacing outdated parts. Take a look at what doesn’t work anymore. Any thoughts that need updating?
-Forming new hallways / connections.
-Taking steps towards your goals.
I hope this analogy works well for you! Remember that I’m here if you need help with any of this process! You can find more info on becoming a client on my Client Information page. My new book on this topic will be coming out soon too!