A metaphor of a door can create happiness.
What does a metaphor about a door have to do with our Psyche? Psychology states that our subconscious mind understands and used metaphoric language. So when we want to change the inner workings of our subconscious mind. A metaphor can be an important part of the solution.
What is a metaphor?
Metaphor: Something that is not really true or realistic. Used to describe a circumstance. Has no relationship to time or space.
Example: “That nearly killed me! Really? Not really, only metaphorically. Or understanding a dream. A steep mountain may be a metaphor for a big challenge ahead! Can be both positive or negative.
What it is not: Literal.
Why use a door as a Metaphor?
Because a door has common well-known characteristics.
- A door is hard
- Closes off a room.
- Provide a barrier
- We can’t see through it, (but we could add a window)
- Maybe we can hear/ but partially impairs communication
- Feeling resistance when closed, yet swings open easily
- Notice the difference. A small child trying to open a door. Or youself. Easy or hard.
- Recognize when and where you feel locked out.
- Open door policy/ closed door policy
- In or out
- A door may keep the room inside invisible, protected
- Keeps our houses safe.
- It can be the access to a beautiful space where anything is possible.
Doors can have multiple connotations. Fear or love. Which does it represent to you?
Why are metaphors used in Psychology?
Psychologists understand that the subconscious mind loves metaphors. Loves stories. Metaphors give us a inside feel to a story. The subconscious mind communicates differently from our conscious mind. It uses symbolism. The feelings that arise from the images. The feeling that a metaphor may also remind us of.
I am using a door as a metaphor to create a story. One to help us understand a bit about our mind.
In psychology, a door could represent something we do not want to look at. To something that may be hidden. Whatever it is, whether it is locked behind a door or not. It could still be interfering with your happiness.
It could be mental emotional trauma, emotional baggage or outdated beliefs. Then we can visualize certain doors inside our mind. Where something unpleasant can be locked behind. But it is still there…
Why does it become locked behind a door? Self preservation. Not wanting to deal with the emotional pain of an event.
So why it is there at all? If we don’t want to remember it? Because our brains must process every thought. Our brains must try to make sense of the thought. To understand it. Or at least try to. The thought must be analyzed for sensations, feelings and emotion. Connecting with other similar past emotions. Then it is categorized and filed. Into either our short or long term memory. Whether we want them there or not.
Why do these old negative memories still affect us today?
Each time we think of this negative experience. Or have a new experience that brings up a matching emotions. This memory is brought forward into our conscious mind. We have an opportunity!
SOLUTION: To change the pattern. When a memory has been brought forward, it becomes malleable. This is our opportunity to change it. But do we? Not usually.
What typically happens is we take the “low road”. “Reacting” out of context with the current situation. The result, we re-enforce the memory. Imagine “reacting” to be similar to paving an old dirt road. That memory, like the newly paved road becomes easier to travel.
If we think of our memory as a road map. The road map contains all the places we have traveled. Every time we think, feel or get reminded by something else, about a location, we recall that memory. Like taking a library book out of the bookshelf and looking at it. It is up close when it moves into our conscious mind.
Once it is in our conscious mind. We have an opportunity to work with it. Like a writer, who edits their book. rewriting passages to smooth them out, or changing them entirely. Altering the past in some way. But that is only when we choose to actively edit our memory.
If we don’t change it? We allow an unpleasant past memory to affect our present. By not changing the memory, we reinforce the negative experience. As you know now, similar to paving a road. The paving makes it easier to travel next time. The cool thing is, we were never meant to suffer from our past.
Every day we have an opportunity to take charge and create thoughts and memories to enhance our lives. Empower our dreams and stimulate happiness.
The first step is awareness
Why does our brain create a road map?
Our conscious BIG brain is our slow but rational brain. It takes time to reach a conclusion. The subconscious brain is very fast. It can process thoughts in a nano second. So we can react quickly.
Within the subconscious. There is the Limbic Brain. It is our Limbic brains job to give today’s emotional experience a quick understanding. It does this by linking similar emotions and feelings of today’s experience with yesterdays experiences. Why? So our Limbic brain can make a quick decision. Together with the Reptilian brain; they decide if today’s experience safe or is it not.
The Limbic brain served a great purpose 2000 years ago, when danger lurked outside our cave.
The problem is, today’s world is so much more complex. The Limbic brain links similar emotions. But makes mistakes. 80% of the time, the “Limbic” brain is wrong. And we react like there is danger outside our cave.
Why does the Limbic Brain make mistakes?
Imagine a hurricane. It chaotic. Loud. Dangerous. Stressful.
Now consider a painful experience. Or a trauma. Both create stress. It doesn’t matter that one is a hurricane and the other a painful experience. The Limbic brain links memories of stress. Sending a signal to the Reptilian brain. And we react.
Why do we react when the memory is supposed to be in lock-down?
Locking our emotions behind a door simply means we are ignoring it. This act tells our brain not to find a solution. The truth is, we know that it is never truly locked away. We now understand that emotional distress can affect ones life for a life time. If we let it.
How do we see it in people’s lives? Addiction. Patterns of abuse or self-destructive behavior. There are all kinds of ways. For us to try to stop the pain. We “suppress it”, ” numb it, drink it away, dope it away, do anything to ignore it”. And in the end? All are futile attempts.
Many of us known the futility in our actions. The pain never goes away. Because the healing process has never been addressed. The trauma remains locked. Behind a door within our mind.
Let’s look at our metaphor in a broader sense.
Imagine we each have a house that is our mind. This house is always under renovation.
Take a peak at the house within your mind. Notice how many rooms there are. The rooms are filed with life experiences. You can feel the emotion attached to each room.
Take notice of the differences in each room. Ranges of tone and color, whispers, or music. Inhale the scent of each room. Each room feels unique.
Looking deeper. Into bright cheerful rooms. Relaxed rooms with fresh air. Then there are other rooms. A small number we avoid. Dark stained doors. Some with door knobs. Other where doors hang. Haphazardly from their hinges. A few nailed shut. But awful odors still ooze under the threshold.
These are the doors that feel ominous. We keep far away from these doors. Yet we can’t ignore them.
Facts are. The house is yours. You’ve built every room. Made the door. And know what is inside. So why are we so afraid?
What is this FEAR thing?
And then we realize. If we built this room. Put this door in. We CAN TEAR IT DOWN! We are actually in charge here. Not fear.
Why not leave it? Because living in fear is stress. It’s unhealthy.
The way we think about our house. About each room that we have built. Is a direct reflection of our mental, emotional and physical health.
If it is so bad for us, why can’t we just forget? It’s not about forgetting. (it’s coming) We wouldn’t have a very good mind if we could forget! Our minds are magnificent!
Olfactory example: Close your eyes and recall the delicious aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. (Did you just take a deep breathe through your nose?) Quite possibly we took a deep breathe in because our sense of smell engaged with the memory of freshly baked cookies and instantly opened this doorway in our mind. Our senses remember the smell and all the good memories that come with cookies! We instantly feel good.
If it is a pleasant experience. Like the smell of home baked goodies All is well.
So that explains how feelings of stress can instantly open doorways.
Stress is like a giant “key”. It unlocks almost every door where a stressful situation has been locked away. And when stress opens a door. Typically we react badly. Often greatly magnified. Disproportionate from our current experience.
Reactions can have devastating consequence in many situations.
Magnified reactions can result in a loss of a job Even end a relationship or a friendship. Our reactions often hurt us . Again and again.
So what’s the solutions?
Here are 3.
- Housekeeping services!
Clean up our house.
How? Lets consider a metaphor of housekeeping. Every week we take time to wash our cloths and change the linen on our bed. We vacuum, sweep and mow the lawn. What ever it takes to make our home feel cared for and loved. A clean house feels good.
So what’s so different about cleaning up our minds?
A little perception shift. Mental housekeeping needs normalizing. And as necessary as taking out the trash. Some jobs are easier than others, some require a renovation!
Removing trauma can be likened to remodeling a house. We can do a little renovation. One room at a time. Or take it back to the frame. Begin fresh!
We may want to protect and expand rooms. Ones full of pleasure. Make more room. By getting rid of the clutter. Some rooms may be removed all together.
In order to renovate, typically you need a plan.
A good plan and the right tools. If you’ve never renovated, maybe hire someone that knows what they are doing.
Some support helps. You direct, but someone takes the debris away or helps you build a new room.
With any renovations, whether it’s one room or the entire house. Sooner or later that door needs to be broken down, the walls removed, the carpet thrown out. Whatever it takes, but it needs to go.
De-construction complete! Construction begins. Consider changing the shape of the room all together. Add a window or two that opens so natural light and fresh air can enter.
Plan how this renovated space can be redecorated. You alone get to chose how to decorate this room. How will it look? Can you see it now. Feel spacious and fresh?
Take a deep breathe in… and relax into this beautiful space you have created.
Still not sure? Not knowing where to start?
A journal is great. Make some notes. Take a look a the floor plan by walk through your own mental house. Look at all the angles.
Rise up in your mind and look at the house from above. Move around this house easily and naturally. Make it yours again. Own it!
When feelings come up, explore them by writing them down. Yelling them out. Saying these feelings out loud until the energy softens.
If it is too painful?
2. Shift perspective. Psychology has ways to look at a painful life experience and still feel safe. At all stages, you must recognize that YOU are in charge.
Here are some tips.
- Look from another persons perspective. Pretend you are your most trusted adviser.
- Change the house to black and white.
- Look at your house as if you’re watching a movie.
- Or imagine yourself up on a high mountain looking down on your house.
- Maybe you are inside a plane and flying overhead and take a quick look out the window.
- Maybe there are clouds in the sky and so again the house is harder to see.
Looking through windows into rooms, or separated by distance allows painful experiences to be explored in a safe manner.
- Ask yourself, what door did I notice opened today?
- When did it open?
- What brought activity/ experience opened this old door?
- What reaction was there?
- Did it open as a limitation, a label, or something that encouraged me?
- Or did this door represent freedom and opportunity?
- Curiosity is another helper?
- When your awareness piques your curiosity, encouraging exploration.
Explore the door: Exploration is another step towards releasing pain.
Look and feel the sensations that come into our body when we become aware of what is truly happening.
We can take moment to explore where and when this door came into existence by looking back in our life and notice when this room was built. How it was constructed. Why it needed a door then. Why we no longer need it.
3. Accept, Forgive and let go…
Does the door really exist?
No, it’s simply a metaphor to help us understand how we cope.
Real or imagined, if it is affecting our physical or mental emotional well being it is as solid as any door we can reach out and touch. Because doors interfere with our mental emotional and physical health.
Negative emotions and stress create tension; resulting in a negative biological action within our bodies. So it’s not just a door! High levels of stress or chronic stress can feel as real as a brick that is tied to your leg when your deep at sea. Ever heard someone say; “I feel like I’m drowning”.
This is when bad things happen. It needs to be cut lose!
However, the door is not real. And when your truly ready to accept our situation for what it was. Then maybe you’ll be ready to forgive what happened. Benefit from the release of finally letting someone thing painful go.
Release can be likened to releasing a red balloon into the sky and watching it float away. Remember, the illusion of the door was simply an illusion. The door, like the string. Attached to the red balloon and held firmly in our grasp. It is not until we open our hand that the balloon is released.
And then we watch in amazement. The balloon effortlessly and easy drifts apart from us. Drifting on the invisible breeze until we can no longer see it.
After all, it never really existed.
Now you now know. That you have the power. And you have had the power all along.
So close your eyes and imagine. A life without all these doors. Life lived in freedom and liberation!
Stay well out there.