Outer Reflects the Inner
Inside my mind is a garden, on a beautiful summer’s day. I pick a flower and the smell brings up happy days of childhood. Swinging high up on the swing, trying to make my toes touch the clouds floating in the bright blue sky.
The smell of dinner wafts through the garden and I run to the kitchen door to be greeted by my mother’s smiling face. Happy days. Close file. Retrieve another.
I am at a party, I meet a familiar face. I cannot remember her name. We are immersed in conversation and my brain is whirring in the background flicking rapidly through my internal Rolodex – looking for a name, a reference, a context – aha! Success – I retrieve her information and I remember her name, where we met so on and so forth, and the conversation continues on an even keel.
This is my filing system in my Subconscious Mind. It is my way of storing the information of my experience and memories. Everyone has their own system. How would you picture the structure of your Subconscious Mind?
Different Strokes for Different Folks
There are so many ways to imagine the structure of the Subconscious Mind – in Hypnotherapy when discussing the Theory of Mind we liken it to a computer’s hard drive. It is a place where all our experiences and memories are organized much the way files are on a hard drive – labeled and indexed via identification and association. Some are stored as jpegs, or mpegs, word documents or even excel sheets and so on. It is so very creative and efficient if you come to think of it.
It could be a long white room, windowless and changing its size at will, like the scene out of Bruce Almighty with Morgan Freeman. The filing cabinets contain each moment of this life and of every other life (if that’s your cup of tea), instead of files on the souls as in the movie. You get the picture.
Sherlock Holmes and the Mind Palace
Sometimes I like to think of it as a Mind Palace like Sherlock Holmes uses. It is his system of assessing, storing and retaining information. How do you imagine this works and looks like, when you hear him on TV, talking about his Mind Palace? For me it is a magical place, each room a box filled to the brim with intricate details of each and every encounter he has had from each and every day of his life. Incredible. But apparently for him it is more of a memory device – stacking up information from his cases only (he doesn’t tend to store much personal information, or so I have read).
To read more about this do check out this brilliant article on Sherlock Holmes and his Memory Palace I came across https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/secrets-sherlocks-mind-palace-180949567/
For most of us, we don’t store as much detail or information as Sherlock does (did? I mean what is the correct grammatical tense to describe a fictional character?) In a sense it could also be an analogy for compartmentalization. This probably explains why he comes across as robotic and lacking in empathy. But, I digress.
What is your mind like? A box? A stack of boxes? Or maybe a line of boxes? Perhaps it is an apartment with 3 bedrooms – childhood, young adulthood and adulthood? More rooms? Or less? Maybe it is like a maze? Perhaps a video game? Indeed a castle or palace? How many rooms? Is there a cellar or a basement? Is it a house you know? Or is it something from a book or movie you have seen? Maybe there is a dungeon? What do you keep in there?
What is the structure of your Mind box/house/palace like – messy or organized? Is it plain or artistically done up? Are the colours shades of grey, or is it bright and cheerful? Now if you step back and look – does it draw a parallel to your everyday life?
Inner vs. Outer
As a therapist, I have been privileged to have been trusted by my clients to journey into their minds with them. In my experience, I have observed first hand how we tend to keep uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and experiences locked up in tight boxes, stored in attics or basements far away from our everyday lives.
People who have organized inner worlds tend to have a systematic and organized way of going about their daily lives. People who have bright, colourful, perhaps even random or chaotic inner worlds are more likely to be artistic or creative in their personal or professional lives.
Once I discovered this connection, this parallel, I found a whole new way of looking at my world, at viewing other people and their worlds. A realization that each person lives his/her reality, which is profoundly individual – there is no one single reality that is true for everyone. Everyone is OK.