"A good ticking off ..."
Sixth session. Sam starts where he finished last
week: "I saw a window open, the sun shining through. A breath
of fresh air. There was a sprig of cherry blossom on the page. Now I
see the page has five rows of five boxes."
Sam's Creative Self had been briefed to come up with a control
system for new behaviours to replace the compulsive bingeing on
chocolate, and it has been doing this in non-cognitive symbolic
process over the last two or three sessions. But in everyday terms
what is Sam saying?
"I have a sense of doing a job here," he tells
me. "I'm paying for your time, so I've instructed my
unconscious to go with relevant, not irrelevant images, so I can get
the best value for my money." He draws a grid of five
columns, marks them Monday to Friday, divides them by five rows for
different times of the day, and titles it 'Reward Me' - the name of
the part-self he identified several weeks ago as being responsible
for the compulsion. "I shall fill each box with rewarding
things I can do for myself while working-stretching, juggling,
standing at an open window, breathing deeply." The rewards
were identified several weeks back, when they seemed less than
compelling. Now they have come into their own in this grid, where the
notion of ticking them off five times a day, five times a week,
is compelling! I wonder if Sam is merely changing one
compulsion for another - translating the pattern rather than
transforming it, but I reckon that filling a few boxes is a healthier
alternative than stuffing himself with chocolate.
"Anything else about fill each box?" I ask.
"Actually I don't need to use the grid every day, only when I
need it," he replies. He seems to be moving away from the
idea of replacing the compulsive eating with compulsive form-filling.
"I have an image of a young woman ticking the boxes."
He had identified a young woman in his metaphor landscape last
week ("standing by a swimming pool that's like an enormous
sheet of A4 paper" ). "She'll tick when she knows it's
right. I don't have to have five rewards a day, or a day of rewards a
week or even every month." I ask about the boxes again.
"Oh, that's interesting they're three-dimensional now, they're
not empty boxes waiting to be ticked, they already contain rewards!"
So the metaphor, as often happens, has taken on a life of its own.
"These boxes are closed, so I don't know what's in them. I
think I have to accept from the boxes, not take!"
The metaphor has transformed. All I have to do now is help
Sam mature the transformation.
"And when you think you have to accept, what kind of
"The perfect gift."
"And what kind of gift is the perfect gift?"
"The young woman is the giver."
"And what kind of young woman is the giver of the
"She's wearing a simple white casual dress. A mature
woman. Like a young mother. Attractive, kind, very nice,
concerned and graceful."
"Where could a woman like that come
"From my dreams. She is showing me something, but not
making a big fuss. The other women were sexier. This woman is more at
home. She surrounds herself with light - air - smells - friends -
family. She has more to look after than me. Lots of
Now Sam has a wonderful insight. You could call it a defining
moment when the two kinds of his knowing - conscious and unconscious
- come together. "The family could be all my little parts and
personalities. Bits of me that need to be nurtured. This woman is
there for every part of me. A family playing and squabbling. She
disciplines us and supplies the air and the sunshine, and in turn we
have to nurture her. I see her
name." He pauses. "It's Asa." He is thrilled.
"Asa the woman in my life." I start to ask another
question, but suddenly he's tired. "This is important, but it's
fragile. I want to find out more about her, but I want to wait."
A gentle reminder to me about timing. I suggest an assignment for
homework: to look up the name 'Asa'.