Taming Your Outer Child
You, Two Years from Now : Dream House Guided Visualization

Outer Child and Your Future

Dream House Guided Visualization

By Susan Anderson | Updated 7/25/15
A selection from Taming Your Outer Child

Let’s try another visualization, one I call “Dream House.” Like the previous exercise, it’s designed to bypass the internal gatekeeper, otherwise known as your Outer Child, the hidden barrier to achieving success. Outer’s defenses have created a veritable obstacle course to reaching your potential. One obstacle is having a low sense of entitlement. When you have an appropriate sense of entitlement, it means you feel deserving of an equal share of the rewards and benefits of life. When you feel less than entitled, Outer Child acts out your feelings of self-dismissal and unworthiness through passivity, avoidance, and underachieving. Outer acts out similarly with your feelings of despair and helplessness. When you feel “I can’t” or “I don’t know how,” Outer seeks substitute fulfillments, like food, alcohol, spending, or resting. Visualization uses your sense of future to break through these internal stumbling blocks. Dream House nourishes your mind with a fully crystallized, positive image. Gazing upon this imaginary view provides an opportunity to engage your mind’s solution­creating capacities and strengthens your motivation to behaviorally follow through to reach your goals.

Some of you might be relieved to hear this exercise doesn’t involve writing. But like all of the exercises in this program, you still have to do it. In this case, the doing is creating a mental image of a house and frequently referring to this image throughout the day. Once you create the Dream House image, it only takes a few seconds to conjure it up. You can focus on it at any time, any place — driving your car, running on the treadmill at the gym — whenever you have a few minutes to hone your thoughts.

I know Dream House works because I’ve used it myself with remarkable results, and I’ve seen it transform the lives of my clients, workshop attendees, friends, and colleagues. It is an active, strenuous form of physical therapy for the brain that works by stimulating growth in areas that promote focus, trajectory, aim, forward motion, and goal-achievement. Einstein formed pictorial images in his mind to engage in a process referred to as “synesthesia” — the merging of sensory images with mental content — to solve complex problems of the universe. When his brain was examined during an autopsy, one part was particularly large — the parietal lobe. That’s the brain’s imagination factory, the part that creates pictures in the mind’s eye. For now, though, we can forget about the mental mechanics of how this exercise works. The important thing is that it gets results.

Back to the Land
Some people, rather than construct a Dream House, prefer to mentally construct a DreamュScape a place in nature they leave mostly undisturbed. Perhaps they help the economy and the planet through intensive conservation projects over a great expanse. Dream-Scape is often the preferred option of those grieving the loss of a loved one (since it is difficult to visualize the benefits of a luxurious house when someone you love has died). Others who might prefer the DreamュScape include those who have just built a new home (their realュlife dream home, perhaps), as well as those dealing with a serious chronic illness who might prefer a natural, peaceful setting. If DreamュScape is your preference, just read along, conjuring details of your ideal natural landscape rather than an enclosed one.

First I want to remove any pressure you might be feeling to believe what you’re about to imagine. You don’t have to believe you will one day live in your Dream House. You are just creating a crystallized image to nourish your mind.

Extreme Makeover, Home Edition

Begin by imagining that in the near future you come into unlimited financial resources — a distant, improbably wealthy relative has bequeathed you a fortune, or maybe you win the lottery, who knows. Imagine that your ethical, spiritual, and financial advisors all urge you to acquire some land and on it construct a home that expresses your personal dreams. It can be a vacation home, permanent residence, or way station on another continent from which to explore the world. In fact, they advise, the more you invest in this property the better. You’ll be boosting local economies and offsetting some of your personal tax burden as well.

You’re in the enviable position of being able to put all your financial worries aside. Your trustworthy advisors have helped you safely invest more than enough of these finances to fund ongoing philanthropic projects closest to your heart, as well as to bankroll your family’s security for generations to come (you are using your imagination, remember). So you’re free to indulge in your dream property.

Many of you will likely want to build your home with green principles in mind, perhaps using your Dream House to create a showcase for new sustainable, environmentally friendly materials and building practices. Your Dream House can set an example, serve as a model to instruct and inspire others.

Think about where you would like to build your Dream House: What climate suits you? Is it warm? Tropical? Dry? Breezy? Are there changing seasons? Does it snow in winter?

Think about the larger community in which you’ll want to live, about places where you’ll find productive outlets for your Outer Child’s energy. Is it tucked in a dense forest? In a farming community? Is it on a cliff overlooking an ocean? Is it neighborly, with friendly people all about? Is it private and remote, surrounded by lots of property? Is it an apartment whose windows look down on a bustling street? Is it a houseboat? A communal living co­op? Create a mental picture of yourself wherever that is, scouting out the location.

Now start thinking about the house itself. Is it spacious or cozy? Create an internal space not only for your Adult Self, but for your Inner and Outer Children as well. Within this space your behavior will be channeled constructively and you’ll enjoy security, peacefulness, and joy.

Remember that money is no object. In creating the Dream House, the more money that flows into the pockets of tradesmen, artisans, sustainable environment consultants, suppliers, and construction workers the better. Imagine yourself distributing this money to all of the many people who help you build your Dream House.

Don’t worry if you don’t believe you’ll ever come close to living in a place like the one you’re imagining. You’ll reap the benefits of this exercise simply by visualizing the Dream House — you don’t have to believe it’s going to be built. You just need to pretend. You can remain a Doubting Thomas (like I am) as much as you like, as long as you do the exercise.

Now think about which room you’ll enjoy the most, the room where you’ll entertain your (current or potential) friends and loved ones. This room is the emotional center of the house (regardless of its actual location within the floor plan). What is this room like? Is it open with lots of space, lots of light? Or is it a cozy nook tucked in an upper loft?

Now think of your favorite chair in that room — a chair enticingly welcome and familiar. It’s the place you’re most likely to plop yourself down in after a long day of satisfying work or exercise — the place you like to read your mail, write in your journal, return phone calls, or just collect your thoughts. Imagine yourself in this chair, happy to be resting in it, even when you are in the Dream House alone.

Picture a captivating view from this favorite spot in this emotional center of your house. This view gives you endless pleasure. Can you see it? Can you hear it? Is there a sound of rushing water or ocean waves? Is there birdsong or wind rustling through the trees? Can you smell salt air, chlorine from the pool, or loam from the dense surrounding forest? These sensations bring you awe and wonder, capture your full attention, bring you out of your thoughts and into the moment. What a gift life is, you think, gazing upon this view, taking it all in.

What about the rest of the house? Is there an observatory? Library? Porch? Gym? Deck? Kitchen nook? Meditation room? Home theater? Are there balconies? Sleeping lofts?

Are there outbuildings on the property? Guest houses? Garages? Communal living spaces? Stables? Barns? A chapel? Art studio? Concert hall? Wine cave? Lodge? Let your imagination run wild.

Continue to Dream House Visualization Page 2 »

Susan AndersonPsychotherapist Susan Anderson is the author of Taming Your Outer Child and The Journey from Abandonment to Healing. More »
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