Exercise: Starting Over
June 05, 2011
In our first exercise, we’re going to change our internal paradigm. Imagery in our head is exceptionally important. Some multiples have what’s called an “internal landscape” which is the mental image of how our internal people interact with each other. Are they floating in space? Are they bodiless? Are there any stars in the distance? Or perhaps you picture people in a forest or park, meeting each other and interacting. Commonly, people picture a structure, sometimes with furnishings, and the people in their mind are interacting in this structure. The structure may be a home, an apartment, a castle — and in one case it was an entire planet. Regardless of what you picture, find a way to make this next exercise work for you.
If your body is your home, how prepared are you to make it hospitable?
In this exercise, re-start your relationship with your internal companions just as you would with acquaintances or friends who are about to move into your home. Your friendship might be deep and have a high level of trust, or it may be a very new relationship. It’s also possible that you’ve had altercations with some of your headmates and the relationship is not in good standing. Regardless, act as if this is the first time you will ever intentionally meet together. Choose how you interact with each other from the very beginning: with as much mutual respect as you can muster. See if you can form an intentional collaboration by forming a welcoming committee for new guests.
At this time, until everyone agrees to live together as amicably as possible, let’s call everyone guests like everyone is staying at a hotel and assume no ownership of your body. You can start this process with as few as 2 guests, yourself included, so if you have a choice pick someone who is in agreement with this idea and who is a good person to form the welcoming committee with. Make the agreement to be the welcoming committee, then shake on it. You now have a verbal agreement to form an intentional collaboration. Approach other guests one by one, or better yet let them approach you, and greet them and ask them to wipe their feet before they come in. The symbolism of cleaning up is very important to send the message that disrespecting this communal home will not be tolerated any more.
If you don’t have good communication with anyone else in your head, it doesn’t hurt to picture this “welcome committee” idea anyway. Do the best you can to make it clear to your other residents that you want to try something new, innovative, and ultimately respectful.
When your welcoming committee greets someone, make it clear that they’re to “wipe their feet” before they enter. You can use mental images, but form it as a request even though it’s a requirement for “entry.” The wiping of your feet is to signify leaving your dirt outside where it belongs.
There may still be others hiding in the closets, the attic, under the floorboards, in rooms you have not yet discovered. Treat your welcoming committee like a desired club, like a loving partnership, and the guests who can will gravitate towards you like a starving stray cat will come if you dangle tempting foods. Being respected, feeling welcome, being part of something, is what most of your guests hunger for even though you may not have realized it. Go on about your business and allow them to come to you. Once the welcoming committee is set up and welcomes guests who come forward initially, it’s time to move on to the next step. Just remember to always wipe your feet before you come in to the communal space.
For folk who have a lot of good history behind your system, who aren't ready to "reboot" fully, don't want to "Start over" — if that gets your hackles up for any reason, please consider instead going through the System Trust Issues New podcast series. This is about 3 hours of reframing of inner world issues and is good for folk who are struggling with denial, who have self-harm issues, folk are fighting in their system, if there's a lot of push-pull or arguing, if folk are competing for control of front or if the host of your system is trying to suppress other headmates and keep them from fronting. We consider all of these to be system trust problems, or cause system trust problems.
After that, y'all can come back to the Boot Camp and continue on from here, or y'all can check out other Self-Help Indexes New for pathways through the site to address specific issues.