My new book Redesign Your Mind employs the metaphor of “the room that is your mind” or, more simply, your mindroom. That is such an interesting place, in part because it is the place where our human nature plays itself out.
This “playing out” includes the amazing self-unfriendliness that so many people display toward themselves. What’s a part-solution to that massive self-unfriendliness? Get rid of that bed of nails square in the center of your mindroom and replace it with an easy chair!
I bet that right now there is a pain-inducing bed of nails prominently positioned in the middle of your mindroom. It’s the bed of nails you’ve installed so as to make yourself remember at all times that you’ve failed yourself. It’s there to punish you for mangling your life. Isn’t part of you certain that you deserve that bed of nails, that you should writhe in pain, that piercing yourself on those sharp metal points is the only way to expiate your guilt?
Let’s get rid of it! Right now, visualize getting rid of it. Call in the haulers and get it the heck out of there. Watch the haulers leave with it. Pay them a little extra to destroy it, so that no one finds it and thinks that they deserve it. Tip the haulers handsomely and thank them profusely. They are carrying out the thing that has harmed you the most, your enduring self-indictment. It is time to sign your pardon. That bed of nails is, and has always been, cruel if not unusual punishment.
Okay! It’s been hauled away. Next, go online in your mind’s eye and buy yourself exactly the easy chair that you’ve never permitted yourself. Make sure it’s comfortable! Skip that chair-as-art that was never meant to sit on. Get something comfy. You want an easy chair that is genuinely easy to relax in because that ease is going to translate into better living. Take your time shopping!
Picture where you’ll place your easy chair in your mindroom. Maybe right beside one of those windows you installed, maybe the one facing that gorgeous view or the one that lets in the most air? Or maybe you’ll put it right next to the handy small refrigerator, if impulse snacking isn’t a problem for you. Get its placement pictured, make your purchase, have it delivered, and wait expectantly at the door when it’s due to arrive.
Point the movers to exactly where you want it positioned. Then sit! Do you deserve that easy chair? Of course, you do. Do you deserve it even though you’ve made a hash of this and a mash of that? Of course, you do. Do you deserve it even though you were to blame for that terrible A, even though you were the cause of that horrible B, and even though you didn’t help when it came to that awful C? Of course, you do. By purchasing it and by sitting in it you are announcing that you are human, and that, warts and all, you deserve some ease.
You aren’t after ease for its own sake. By living more easily inside, by relaxing better, by pestering yourself less, by finally getting off that bed of nails, you position yourself for self-improvement. It is easier to be your best you when your mind isn’t being jabbed continually!
Your easy chair is your place for relaxation, rejuvenation, daydreams, bursts of imagination, forgiveness, hard thinking, renewed hope, and everything else better done in an easy chair than on a bed of nails. No doubt you agree; and yet it may prove hard to part with your bed of nails. It exists in your mind because for the longest time you’ve been certain that you deserve it. Part of you is positive that you ought to punish yourself for all those messes, mistakes, and missteps.
Maybe you have some lingering feeling that you deserve that bed of nails. You don’t. Maybe something about it feels downright comfortable. Break that spell. Sleeping on that bed of nails only makes matters worse, not better. If you want to expiate your guilt, then do a good deed, say a kind word, make a difference. And, please, call the haulers right now! Get that bed of nails out of there!
By the way, you don’t have to replace it with an easy chair. Maybe that isn’t exactly the right image for you. Maybe easy chairs suggest old folks and decrepitude. Then pick a different image. Throughout this adventure of ours, please pick the images that work for you. This is the redesign of your mindroom. Decorate it and design it as you like! Maybe a loveseat better suits you than an easy chair? Then a loveseat it is!
When you form an intention, like replacing that bed of nails with an easy chair, there are two excellent additional steps to take, in addition to visualizing the change. One is to begin to actively think thoughts that support that intention. Here, for example, are five thoughts that support that intention:
1. “No bed of nails for me!”
2. “I love my easy chair!”
3. “I am worthy.”
4. “Lightness and ease.”
5. “I am becoming more self-friendly.”
Imagine entering your mindroom, throwing open the windows, enjoying the soft breeze, exclaiming, “I love my easy chair!”, and sitting down in your easy chair to think, dream, imagine, or remember. Isn’t that the ticket!
Second, you can support an intention by engaging in new behaviors. Here, for example, are five behaviors that support your intention to replace your usual self-pestering with a new self-friendly lightness and ease.
1. Begin to notice which of your behaviors seem to come from a self-unfriendly place. To begin with, just notice.
2. Pick one behavior that looks to be coming from that self-unfriendly place. Give yourself the following instruction: “The next time I’m about to behave in that way, I’m going to visit my mindroom, get comfy in my easy chair, and see if that makes a difference.”
3. When you feel yourself about to behave in that self-unfriendly way, visualize that bed of nails being hauled away. Wave goodbye to it. See if that makes a difference.
4. Repeat this process with another behavior that looks to be coming from that same self-unfriendly place.
5. Continue the process of identifying self-unfriendly behaviors and countering each with those two visualizations, of the bed of nails being hauled away and of you comfy in your easy chair.
Nothing is more important to change than the ways that we diminish, derail and defeat ourselves and inflict pain on ourselves. Turn your brilliance to this subject of self-inflicted pain. You might try asking the question “Why do I do that?” from a different perspective, say from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist or an evolutionary psychologist. Hazard some fascinating guesses about why human beings engage in all that self-unfriendly self-inflicting. Don’t worry if those aren’t your fields of expertise: try some imaginative guessing. Your guess may be as good as the experts! And remember to visualize removing your bed of nails and replacing it with an easy chair.