I often have associated mental images with intense emotions, almost as allegories. Such as, this reminds me of that scene in a movie, or that news photo, or TV show, or book plot. Sometimes these mental images empower me and sometimes they distract me or drain my energy.
So, me being me, I decided that I wanted mental images in my mind that empowered me, helped me, moved me toward where I want to go, not just where where I have been blown by the random images of MTV society that float chaotically past the periphery of my consciousness.
Case in point:
Long time back, I had a messy breakup in a relationship that I’d worked really hard to make work. Now, I’m a relationship-positive guy: I like being in one, like having that special someone to share things with, talk to, come home to.
To try to get a handle on my feelings, to get a grip, to find a starting point for recovery (“I’ll get over this some time, why not now?”), I reflected on what floated to the top of my mind when I thought about the breakup. Specifically, I deliberately searched for a mental image that encapsulated my emotional state.
What came to mind was a carrier-based jet fighter, say an F-16, circling in the North Atlantic at night looking for its ship so it can to land. The sea is icy and choppy with huge white-capped waves, the sky is dark as can be with a low cloud ceiling, fuel is running low and…. no aircraft carrier in sight. Home base and all the welcoming warmth and security that it represents has vanished.
A crisis situation to be sure, possibly even a life-threatening one. Not exactly an empowering mental image, but it did accurately capture my mood and feelings of the moment and that was a vital starting point.
I began working with the mental image, always checking with myself to make sure it stayed authentic to me. I asked myself if I could transfer the image to the South Pacific, still an ocean but at least calm and warm. That worked, still rang true. I felt the calming effect of that scene change for a while and then worked on it a bit more. Instead of a jet fighter rapidly burning fuel, could I become a seaplane with big floatation pods instead of wheels?
I contemplated that idea for a while and thought, yeah, that works, I can do that. I can give myself that gift, I can cut myself some slack. By now I was feeling so much better. Yes, I was still alone, but I felt safer and more in control. And by now I’d also created a glowing full moon and a sky of brilliant stars. Heck, I almost was having fun!
I decided it was time to wrap it up, so I created in my mind a small (but green and lush) deserted tropical island with a wide sandy beach and gentle lapping surf. I landed my seaplane and drifted up onto that beach and fell asleep exhausted, with my leather flight jacket as my pillow.
You may find all this silly and it may not work for you at all. That’s okay. It worked for me and it’s a technique that has worked for other people I’ve shared with.
You have mental images in your head that frame your view of life and how you respond. You can become aware of them and re-write the script in ways that work better for you. Ways that add energy, that empower you. You are the director of the movie of your life. Do NOT sabotage yourself, ever. Be your own best friend, your #1 ally, your chief cheerleader.
Your best life is waiting for you to show up.