Taming Your Outer Child
Dream House Guided Visualization : Page 2

Outer Child and Your Future

Dream House Guided Visualization (cont')

One important enjoinder: In creating your Dream House, you can’t rewrite the laws of nature. You can’t, for instance, bring people back from the dead, make houses fly to other planets, or control other people’s behavior (to make them love you or behave properly). Staying within the laws of reality allows you to integrate your imagination with the practical, problem-solving regions of your mind.

Let’s return to your favorite room, the center spot of the house. Imagine that it’s two years from now and you are alone in the house, sitting in your special seat. Why two years? Because two years is a reasonable time in which to solve almost any problem, overcome Outer Child patterns, and transform your life. Two years is also a reasonable time in which to overcome any technical obstacles that you might encounter in building. Don’t think of your Dream House as perfect in every detail after these two years — instead think of it as a work in progress. There are still craftspeople, artists, and consultants at work on particular details, though you (and yours) can now stay in it very comfortably anytime you want.

Maybe you are sitting on a comfy stool in your kitchen, elbows on the counter, gazing at your beautiful view. Maybe you are on an amazingly comfortable sofa in the den or living room. Maybe you are sitting near a huge stone fireplace or enjoying the breeze on your porch swing. Imagine yourself contented and at peace in this space.

Think about what other things are in the room with you. These are things that bring you enormous pleasure just to look at. Indulge your fanciful imagination. Maybe your floors have precious seashells or even jewels embedded in them, or are made of 100-year­old reclaimed oak. Maybe you have an exquisite set of dishes, an old potbellied stove, a beautiful rug, a beloved piano, a bouquet of fresh flowers, or photographs of loved ones. Add all of the comforts and materials that might delight you and your loved ones (both current and potential).

Glance around the room in your Dream House for a moment. Take it all in. Imagine how grateful you feel to the powers that be for being alive in this space, so satisfied within yourself, so confident about your achievements. If you can picture yourself this way, you can become this. In creating a Dream House you’ve created a crucible in which to forge your higher Adult Self. Every time you conjure up your Dream House — even if it’s only for seconds at a time — you place your energy in this crucible that holds the possibility of your growth and nourishes your brain with healthy new messages.

Conjure up the whole house — its climate, landscape, architecture, favorite room, and space for loved ones — gathering up as many details as you can in a single image. This house, as you might have guessed, is you. And it’s the you you’re becoming. Its overall shape, location, and embellishments represent your emotional needs, your potential to overcome obstacles, your most deeply held dreams, and your future. By visualizing it, you are projecting all that you are, all that you need, all that you will be into a single, vivid image. In your real life, this image guides your future in the direction this house symbolizes.

Conjuring up your Dream House is designed to be pleasurable. It provides its own built­in reward. When your brain receives rewards for performing a behavior, long­lasting changes occur in the neurons of the basal ganglia, the region involved in learning new patterns. The basal ganglia are rich in receptors for dopamine, a neurochemical that mediates reward, and which we will explore in Part Three. There is another area in your brain rich in dopamine that is also sensitive to reward (and punishment) — the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), part of a neural circuit that mediates between impulsive behaviors and the higher thinking brain. Dream House spritzes these significant brain areas with healthy doses of dopamine to reward your problem­solving efforts each time you mentally rehearse new skills. Conjuring up an image of your Dream House nurtures, satisfies, and pleasures the brain, effectively reinforcing the positive new behaviors you are learning throughout the course of this book.

It isn’t necessary to rebuild the house every time you visualize it; you’ve already created it. You just need to take a few seconds three or more times a day to conjure up the image of it. Repetition and consistency are what make the difference. If you do this consistently for up to three months, you will surely see your life change.

Like Learning to Walk

In creating a Dream House, you’ve become engineer of your own life, master designer of an environment suited to your greatest needs, goals, and desires. The process has transformed you into a virtual architect engaged in a problem­solving activity whose intention is to promote goal­achievement in your real life.

When you bring the image to mind, you might want to take that moment to tweak or change some of the details. As you make virtual decisions, like how to enlarge a closet or where to put the stereo speakers, hold in mind your goals. Holding those aims in mind stimulates integrative regions of your brain that allow you to simultaneously design, mastermind, and plan for a projected future outcome. This integrative mental activity is akin to what happened when, as an infant, you learned to walk. Your newfound mobility inspired your developing mind to explore the world around you as you hadn’t been able to before, helping you grow by leaps and bounds. Similarly, in creating your Future Vision, you are strengthening an ability that will free your Adult Self from the constraints of Outer Child and bring you closer to your dreams.

So add this Outer Child exercise to your toolbox along with your Outer Child dialogues. Use the exercises frequently. Soon you’ll notice you’re incrementally developing greater self­entitlement, increasing your confidence, fine­tuning your goals, and moving your life ahead on many levels and in many areas.

As you change — achieve goals and then set new ones — you can change your Dream House accordingly. Renovate it to reflect your evolving self. You may decide to move it to another country. Or make it smaller. Or larger. You may decide to add a room or delete one. You may change your favorite spot from one room to another, perhaps to enjoy a different view.

If you’d like, you can sketch your evolving Dream House and map out its floor plan. Many of my clients carry a diagram of the house with them. You can also cut ideas from magazines for your Dream House and keep them in your Outer Child notebook or make a collage of them. The important thing is to keep this Dream House prominent in your mind. •

Next: Outer Child and Your Future »

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