I just heard a wonderful talk by Warren Berland about how to “get out of the box” to a freer self through a simple 2-step exercise. You can read more about it on his website, but here is a quick exercise based on his method to allow you to see the world and yourself from a freer, truer, and happier place:
1. Imagine you are stuck inside a small box that you can’t get out of. Try to imagine this in as much detail as possible – the sights, sounds, smells, feelings in your body, your energy level, your emotions, etc. Notice how it feels. What are you thinking about? What does life look like from this perspective?
2. Now imagine being outside of the box. You and your mind are free. What is your experience? Notice how this feels and what life looks like from this perspective.
If you are like me, outside of the box felt free, open, exciting, and clear.
When we are feeling stuck – depressed, anxious, angry, self-righteous, etc. – we can feel the same way we do when we are in the box. We are trapped by forces outside ourselves. We are in pain, constricted, hopeless.
When you are feeling this way, ask yourself these simple questions: “What if I were out of the box right now? How would I feel? What would I be thinking? What would I be experiencing?” Now, just as you did above, imagine seeing this issue from outside of the box – from that place of freedom and openness you felt in step 2. Many people report a lightness, along with a desire to solve the issues that felt so constricting before.
Berland points out that this perspective is always available to you. It is not a matter of getting yourself out of the box, but simply deciding to take a different perspective.
This simple technique may help you realize the power you currently have, that you have many more options than it currently seems, and that you do not need to feel like a prisoner in your own life. It may not be, however, a cure-all for issues you might be struggling with in your life, and for more serious, persistent struggles, I encourage you to find additional resources. Sometimes, we cannot do it all on our own, and close friends and family, religious counsel, or trained counselors or doctors, can be of tremendous help.
Rose Rigole is a psychotherapist in private practice in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles, California and is currently accepting new clients. She can be reached by telephone at (424) 571-2273, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via her website at http://www.counselingsocal.com.