A mind map exercise of negative emotions and the cognitive distortions I have of myself.
This is perhaps the most enriching experience from my guest house visualisation to date. I am so intrigued by the simplicity of using the short visualisation along with a review of my own issues at work that I mapped out my life story and the inner wisdom that comes through this contemplation. I found it remarkable that in under 30 minutes and entirely self guided, that I found a clear path forward from where I was.
I was asked after my spiritual direction session on a Saturday morning just before heading off to a two day silent retreat to look at what probes my inner scars and hurts with the recent events at work. In particular, I planned to reflect on why I lacked and craved attention from the two male authority figures at my work place, in particular the owner of the company (who happens to be the same age as my dad, go figure). I took that desire with me on my way to the retreat centre, half an hour's drive from my apartment and on the way set my intentions by calmly meditating just allowing my body to feel relaxed and aware of the the joyful feelings I had experienced in the morning and the days before. And so I arrived the center feeling at peace and fully relaxed, grateful that my wife, sister and mother in law all chipped in with their support to care for my son while I spend the Father's Day weekend in solitude.
My simplified doodle map of the story of my life
This picture above may look foreign to you because it was captured from my journal, and before uploading I edited it with the colored texts to illustrate the missing aspects of my thoughts and assumptions that was in the initial journal.
Explainer: Mind Map of Feelings
Keeping this simple, I start by the color RED for a feeling of desolation, GREEN for a reasoning or thought processing phase - this is usually where the message is delivered, the inner wisdom. Finally BLUE represents feelings of consolation.
Start in the middle of a piece of paper and circle in the primary feeling. Annotate it with a "D". "C" or "W" for desolation, consolation and wisdom if you lack a colored pen or pencil.
Back to the example....
My story at work is that when my boss criticizes my work, in this case a word he used to say I should write my emails better so that it becomes clear, I took it to mean I was not good enough. I later added in the missing link, that firstly, I thought and felt attacked like my email was an extension of my self and I my reaction was protecting me!
The 90% and 10% is also a green thought process that came from my reflection. That 90% of the time I end up stressed, anxious and feeling unworthy. 10% of the time my shadow would kick in and want to rebel to prove myself, to earn my pride and win the battle. In this case, there was also a wisdom that came, that there is a counter desire reflecting from this life story, that I longed to recognize what was truly a wonderful and awesome set of qualities in me. I had actually sought validation externally, as early as from my childhood because I recalled on incident when I was maybe between the age of five and ten years old, and I was chuckling and giggling in the car. My dad sternly lectured me for laughing in a weird way, that did not fit in with what he thought was a proper laugh (this sounds bizarre but truly that happened). I grew up yearning to please parents, grandparents, teachers, friends. As I write this, I begin to wonder how silly this story is, how it does not make any sense why I would react in this fashion.
The guest house visualization
After this doodling, I went on to visualize fear and unworthiness as the primary desolation and wisdom and love as the primary consolation together with me as an observer. The result was profound. The message to me was that I would have to increase the shadow in me from 10% to 50% and tune back the need to comply, to blend and fit in, from 90% to 50%. It struck me that when I did feel unworthy, I would go all out to do as I am told, to comply to their standards. For the next twelve months, I would increase that which is buried in me, and let that shadow side dance in the light.
For me, the shadow brought a message, that there are gifts I truly hold dear. Qualities in me such as creativity, an open mind keen to explore ideas and test novel concepts, and a cheerful and playful kid within that longs to be free to express what I truly felt and thought. It was time to bring these out to the world.