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Exercise: Starting Over

June 05, 2011

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See below for an alternate non-reboot exercise.

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.

Non-reboot Suggestion

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.

Other Posts in June 2011

<< Please wipe your feet before you come in | Index | Being a Responsible Roommate >>


I'm realizing that discovering my multiplicity late in life (55)despite some chaos from the realization, I (we) no longer feel as lonely. Like I am never truly alone. Just fyi, I don't have amnesia when switching, so your words in another section about the various types of multiplicity was a balm.

Comment by Cammie on June 04, 2020, at 10:19 AM

Thank you for letting us know that helped y'all : ) We like knowing that there are folk out there getting something from our work.

Comment by Crisses on June 30, 2020, at 10:42 AM

In our system, trying to start over actually caused a lot of problems. But that's probably a result of the exact way we tried to approach it, how our system functions, and the alters leading the charge.

For us, our system discovery process was lead by an alter called Connie. Connie is a protector/gatekeeper who normally comes out in times of crisis to control emotions and internal communication. And due to major events about a year ago, nearly every co-host had gone dormant, and Connie (who had been a rare fronter) moved into the fronting room in the inner world and was permanently around.

A big way Connie works is by effectively starting over. This is useful a lot, because it lets us re-approach problems, or figure out solutions we may have been ignoring. But, it also results in throwing out all the progress that existed already. And that's the problem.

Connie was analysing each alter that appeared, for their skills, their personalities, their traits and tendencies. Connie was concerned with trying to rebuild functionality, and focused on finding "useful" alters and highlighting "problematic" alters. Which actually caused a lot of problems.

These alters, the whole system, has been around forever! Every alter has always been playing their part and helping in some way. And by starting over, Connie focused on their flaws in the present, and so couldn't see their contributions from the past.

We have since discovered that Connie has a lot of trust issues with other people. Which as you say, "as inside, so outside (and vice versa)". And working on this has helped a lot. (And we probably still have a long way to go too, so gonna look at your series on building trust.)

Anyway, yeah. So maybe, to make this vent/rant into some feedback for this... We think it might be good to highlight here, in the starting over process, a need to work on trust. To practice gratitude and appreciation for the things our headmates have already done, and are still doing, to keep the body and system going. That they care for the body as much as we do, and we can trust them because of that (body age is 31, so there's a lot of positive history to draw from). I think if we had been doing that from the beginning, it may have helped jump start a lot of our process.

(Wanna say as well, therapist has always praised our functioning as a system, so we must be doing something right. And it feels so validating reading so much of this site and realising how many strategies and techniques we'd already been using, that we had discovered ourselves or picked up from other systems.)

Comment by Jellie System on November 28, 2021

Hi, Jellie System,

Thank you for the important feedback! Yes, the system trust issues New stuff will be more useful for a system with some "miles" behind them as opposed to the total reboot that we write about in this exercise. We wrote this series of blog posts for folk who are either brand spanking new to their DID, or for folk who are at odds (minimum) or war (worst) in their system — not necessarily for folk who have already been hard at work on their system.

So, in some ways it's possible Connie has breached trust (it's for y'all to work on it, y'all don't have to harp on it). A lack of compassion or hindsight is a definite issue going into this exercise.

We'll point out that folk can replace this exercise with the System Trust Issues series. It's a good idea. Thank y'all : )

Comment by Crisses on November 30, 2021

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