What are Internal Landscapes?
Internal landscapes, in brief, are the subjective experience that many people with DID have as a mental "home" apart from the physical and external world. For more on the subjective experience, see Internal Landscapes or Inner Worlds.
What is Internal Landscaping?
Internal landscaping is the act of deliberately creating fixtures, structures, furnishings, objects, appliances, or decorating one's internal landscape. For example, creating an internal safe space or an internal meeting space where residents can retreat and relax, or hold group meetings.
Many plural/DID systems created their internal landscape subconsciously, often as a retreat from danger or a place to hide away from the physical world. Regardless it generally emerges as a sense of place where headmates can interact, and as such is exceptionally useful and usable. Not everyone realizes they have the ability to alter it.
How do Systems Change their Inner World?
Sometimes inner world changes are a matter of allowing New — which is a skill of not-trying. This might work for some folk, just agree on the changes and then allow your inner world to change. Perhaps you don't have to try so hard. Sometimes we over-complicate things or push ourselves because we've been sold the idea that anything worth "doing" requires blood, sweat & tears. Relax.
Traditionally speaking, how most folk change their inner world, it's a little more complicated than "just imagine it" but not extremely hard. The inner world is a persistent world similar to the external world. So usually it takes more than "just picture it" or "just imagine it" — but not very much more. Usually it's "how would you do that externally?" and do the same thing (or something very similar) internally.
You can add a framed picture on the wall in a room by going over and hanging the picture. There are certainly systems where they can just picture it and it will happen. Others need to cast a spell, get out a hammer and nail, or actually paint the picture first. Most often, if you actually do the things internally that would make the thing happen by that world's rules it will work.
But what about moving walls, adding more space, or other larger changes?
This is where the principle of As Inside, So Outside & Vice Versa can come in very handy. Basically that's a law or idea that you can use things in the external world to represent internal world stuff, so long as you have the intention of the thing in question representing the inner world.
So you can draw an internal landscape map, and add features to it, and have the intention of the external map representing the inner world changes, and (we Crisses add in a good dollop of "Allowing New" to this method) it may take some time but it usually works. Behind the scenes there's whatever going on, and we allow it to happen. Internal people moving the walls, or making spaces larger. Maybe there's mental critters, or non-player-character (NPC - a role-playing game term for "extras" on the set of the game) work crews who go in with ladders and lumber and do their thing. Whatever the mechanics, likely subconscious mechanics, somewhere between the belief that it can happen, the faith that it's possible, and the act of creating it in any form even external, it happens.
The more things you do to affirm these changes and the more confidence you have that it will be carried out the better.
Changes can be near-instantaneous, or could take time (hours, days, weeks) to complete. Some inner world changes may come with neurological shifts, like lowering amnesiac boundaries between headmates, so it can take some time.
Other ideas for representing inner world changes:
- LEGO buildings
- Craft sticks & glue, cardboard boxes, balsa wood, etc.
- Models & miniatures
- Index Cards
- Mapping: Headmaps, Self-Maps, System Diagrams, Internal Landscape maps, etc.
- Diagramming software (interior planning, Minecraft, 3D modeling software, etc. see mapping above)
Help! I can't change my internal landscape!
Some systems have "laws" of their internal world that limit who can or cannot change the inner world. For some it's only a certain elder headmate. For others, it's only the children. Some aren't sure if or whom can or cannot change it (perhaps they never tried), and don't even know how to start.
For now, we'd say start from where you are. If you need permission to change your inner world, then ask for permission. If only certain folk change it, then work with them. You might eventually be able to change the laws so anyone or the whole group can work on changing the internal landscape.
Working within your Metaphors
Some internal landscapes are thematic. They have their own style, rules, laws of physics or magic, etc. Examples: A medieval castle, a Zen garden with temples and koi ponds, a space ship, a neighborhood, a house, a hotel.
When doing internal landscaping tasks, you should try to operate within the parameters of your inner world's metaphor or logistics.
It is generally easier to keep modifications in alignment with the style or laws of your inner world. To light a medieval castle, you might use oil lamps, torches, braziers, candles. In a Zen garden, paper lanterns. You and your system will probably know whether you want to introduce any anachronisms or paradoxes into your internal landscape. And that's fine as well.
So if you have a contemporary internal landscape, we will say order something from Headspace Amazon. We're not even joking, some people can do that. Other folk may need to drive to a hardware store. Others can make a hammer materialize from thin air.
It's entirely up to your system what works for you. It may never have been a conscious choice until you start deliberately doing internal landscaping work, and that's OK.
Internal landscaping ideas
- Internal landscapes experienced as dark empty spaces can be altered to add gentle lighting.
- Some inner worlds start out pretty drab, it can be nice to collaborate and paint rooms or have your inner artists create murals or posters to place around your inner world.
- If your inner world is feeling cramped, you can remodel and add on additional rooms (some ideas below), or expand cramped spaces.
- There's some other ideas for remodeling or repurposing spaces below, but consider that you can simply change things up in any way you'd like. It can serve a purpose or not. Maybe a plain rectangle window isn't your thing and you want a hexagonal window. Go for it. Changing doors into archways, making doorways larger so larger headmates with big wingspans can easily enter, etc.
- Modifying Barriers
- When there's a wall, consider adding a door or window. It's good to modify towards boundaries that allow things to get through, in a controlled manner. It's not a great idea to just tear down all the walls since smaller spaces may help folk feel safer.
- Communication Systems
- Consider adding a communication system. Intercoms, telephones, computers, mail slots in doors, etc. Also consider translation devices whether worn or installed in various spaces that help headmates understand each other (whether non-verbal or speaking different languages, etc.)
- Information Sharing
- If there's not a lot of internal communication, installing a bulletin board can help share brief messages and pictures or flyers can be posted that others can see.
- Information Tracking
- More permanent information storage systems can be created, such as logbooks, journals, file cabinets, libraries, computers, etc. so that memories and information can be catalogued and retrieved.
- Places for internals to occupy themselves when they aren't fronting. This can be libraries, museums, artist workshops, a (teen?) recreation center, etc. All work and no play makes people grumpy.
- Safe Spaces
- A retreat center, spa, lounge, a nursery or daycare center for the wee ones, blanket forts, decorated fridge boxes, whatever folk need to feel safe when they're upset.
- Meeting Spaces
- Gathering places large enough to fit everyone and then some. Can be an auditorium, lecture hall, board room, catering hall, dining area, etc. There can be other smaller break-out meeting spaces for simultaneous committee meetings, brainstorming meetings, or trainings, etc.
- Any way of safely "imagining" things without affecting the others in your internal landscape. These can be used to more safely play out imaginary scenarios, role-play (also games), play laser tag, etc.
- Skill Workshops
- Any type of specialized room or workshop where you have the tools needed to work out specific ideas for skills you will implement in the real world. We (Crisses) have a test kitchen where we test recipes in cookbooks we're editing or plan & create recipes to try out in the external world.
- Multipurpose Rooms
- You can have rooms that can switch format at the push of a button. So a meeting room can become a lecture hall, or a basketball court.
- Outdoor Amusements
- You can also create water parks, amusement parks, playgrounds, mini golf (or not-so-mini golf) courses, etc. which can be helpful for times like these (COVID-19 lockdowns) where such things are not accessible external-world.
- Internal Landscaping by Bob King (original article)
- the Internal Landscape category
- DIY Using Self-Hypnosis To Create & Upgrade Your Own Innerworld - by the Stronghold System - 2019 Plural Positivity World Conference