From the ground up
When you are asked who you are,what is your first thought?
When you are asked what you believe in or what you stand for, what comes to mind?
When you read something that is controversial or contrary to what you believe, what informs your sense of right or wrongness?
Whether it’s the volume of the film or the smell of the store, we each develop our own like/dislikes. Some of us are very tactile others not so much. Some are highly tuned to color and ambiance, others hardly at all. When you see, smell,or touch something that isn’t quite right, how do you know it?
These are deep questions and hopefully ones you can answer over time.
For many who come from trauma or fear, the answers aren’t terribly clear. The answers, if any, are often based on avoidance of fear or pain. And for others, the idea of developing who I am, what I stand for, what I am opposed to has felt like a luxury afforded to others.
If we each imagine a house as a framework, this can be a helpful metaphor to build on.
The walls, the roof, the basement, the windows and doors all have significance.
Keeping us safe, keeping the bad guys out, keeping us warm and dry. Opening us to friends and love, figuring out how much is enough… The house metaphor is useful.
So here is an exercise to give you some food for thought.
Here’s how to create your own:
Draw a house. Any house will do but there are a few necessities. Your house should have a foundation, walls, roof, door, and chimney. An online search will yield many templates but don’t worry about how it looks. This is your house and feel free to use your creativity. After all, the house represents you.
The house’s foundation is your foundation as a person. List and label the values, beliefs and traditions that direct your life. Do you put family above all else? Do you think that being financially successful is paramount? Include these on your foundation.
The walls represent your supports. Are you struggling to name supports? Remember that supports can be people, places, and things. Who have you interacted with in the last weeks? What did you do and where did you go to feel better and find assistance? Supports can be professionals in your life. A therapist is a great professional support to list on your walls.
What gives you shelter? Who protects you? Like supports, these can be people or things. Do you feel like your parents encourage you unconditionally? If so, include them on your roof.
The door keeps things hidden and others out. What things do you hide? Are you ashamed of things or do aspects of your past? List these in the door.
The chimney releases hot air. What do you do to blow off steam? Exercising, watching a funny movie, journaling and taking a long bath are great ways to relax and unwind. List these on your chimney.
Bonus: Billboard. So, not many houses actually have billboards but your house can. On the billboard, write the things that you are proud of. The accomplishments, skills or characteristics about you that you would like to share with the world.
If this stumps you completely, you might consider setting up a time to speak to a mentor, parent, advisor, or therapist.
No one else can build our house for us. The house is built over time, and our mistakes, faith, beliefs, dreads and desire contribute to the whole.