A guided imagery exercise:
Imagine yourself entering a theater. You walk into a lobby where there are a lot of people milling around. You walk through the lobby into the auditorium where you take the best seat in the house. In front of you is a large stage with a curtain drawn across it.
You make yourself comfortable, and now the other people of the audience come in and take the seats around you. The house lights go dim and the stage lights go on. A play is about to start.
The curtain rises on the first act of the play. There we see your parents and the time is before you were born. Watch what happens, listen to what is said, see who else is there.
The curtain comes down. The curtain rises on the next act and we see on the stage you, and you are a young child. Again watch what happens, listen to what is said, see who else is there.
The curtain comes down again. The curtain rises and we on stage you and now you are a teenager and are with one or both of your parents – they are talking to you about growing up – about relationships and sex, careers and education. Listen to what they say, listen to what you say back.
The curtain comes down. The curtain rises on the next act and we see you on stage and now you are a bit older – it is time in your life when you are leaving home for the first time, literally moving out of the house – to go to college, to get an apartment with friends, to get married. On stage with you are one or both of your parents. Watch what happens, listen to what is said, see if you can tell how you are feeling at the moment.
The curtain comes down. The curtain rises on the next act and now you are a bit older and in a serious relationship – a boy or girlfriend, a partner – and you are together on stage. Watch what happens, listens to what is said.
The curtain comes down. The curtain rises and the time is the present. You are on stage. Watch what happens.
The curtain comes down. The curtain rises again and the time is 5 years from now in the future. Watch what happens, listen to what is said, see who is there.
The play is over now and the curtain comes down, the stage lights go off and the house lights go on. The audience gets up and begins to leave the theater. You follow them out and you overhear them talking about the play. Listen to what they say about the play.
So what did you see? The question to ask yourself is out of the things you could have seen, why did you see what you did and what does it say about your life right now? What is the overall tone, what are the patterns that run through the scenes?
A quick framework for self reflection:
The first scene of your parents is about early relationships – how did you parents get along, what were they doing? How is this a model for your own early stage of relationships?
The second scene of your childhood – out of all you could have imagined why this one – what does it say about your childhood, your life now? Were you happy, sad? Alone, with sibs, with parents? What were you doing?
The third scene is a birds and bees talk about growing up – what did you hear, what did your parents say is important? Often these become the “shoulds” that drive our lives? What are yours?
The next scene is leaving. How did you feel when you were packing up – excited, scared, depressed, smothered, guilty? Why? How is this feeling a possible emotional bottom line for you about leavings in general? How often do you decide to leave a relationship or job even when you feel this way again?
An early relationship – what did you see, what was the tone? How was it like or unlike the first scene of your parents?
The present – out of all that is going on in your life right now, what did you see? How is similar to or different from the other scenes?
Five years in the future – what did you see – how is it similar or different from you consciously think about? How is like or different from other scenes?
What did the audience say about your play – exciting, boring, glad you turned yourself around? How sensitive are you to what others say.
This isn’t prophesy, only a different way of getting information about your life. Mull on it and see how it applies to your self and work.