(This post originally appeared as a Guest Blog at Studio Em Interiors on 9/15/15 ...)
If you’ve ever hired an interior designer or done some DIY projects around the house, you know how improving the appearance and functionality of your home can have a positive effect on your mood, your family dynamics, how you entertain, etc. But did you know that your home can also have some life-changing wisdom for you?
As a Martha Beck trained life and business coach, one of my favorite techniques to use from my “Martha Beck Toolbox” is called the Living Space Tool. (You may know Martha from her many books, Oprah’s team of life experts, and her column in O, The Oprah Magazine.) The tool is inspired by psychologist Thomas Moore’s belief that “every choice we make in the material world, no matter how small, reflects the condition of our inner lives.”
Essentially this means every object and space in our homes -- the ones we love and the ones we don’t -- are metaphors for our lives and who we really are. (The same can apply to our workspaces.)
Let me demonstrate this by sharing a real-life example of using the Living Space Tool with one of my coaching clients named Katie. (Thanks to Katie for allowing me to share her story!) …
Katie and I had been coaching together quite a while about starting her new business. She had made some great progress, but felt like there was still something nagging her deep down. She just couldn’t put her figure on it. That’s when I pulled out the Living Space Tool -- to get her out of her head where she was feeling stuck and try a more creative approach.
We started with talking about her favorite space in her home -- the upstairs level. Katie described the space as very large, with 20-foot ceilings, a fireplace, “Santa Fe” style, kind of funky with bright and dark colors, and a space she loved from the moment she walked into it. Whenever she was in the space, it made her feel relaxed, nurtured and giddy. I literally could hear lightness in her voice as she described the space.
Next, we moved on to Katie least favorite space -- the downstairs living room. In this space, it was dark, there was a broken fireplace and old carpeting. The room was half-painted and in need of many repairs. It was a space Katie admitted she hardly spent any time in because it made her feel tense, stuck, constricted, heavy and like she had “fuzzy” feeling in her head.
At this very moment, Katie made a huge discovery. The “fuzzy” feeling she got when she was in her downstairs living room was exactly the same feeling she would get when she thought about money. (As a side note, Katie’s new business that she had been pouring her heart into was not turning a profit yet.) The Living Space Tool helped her make the connection that the nagging feelings she had not been able to pinpoint were her money worries.
Then we started brainstorming. I asked Katie to come up with one simple thing she could do to the downstairs living room (her least favorite space) that would make it feel more like the upstairs level (her favorite space). She suggested adding something new that she loves into the downstairs living room … something as simple as a treasured object from another area in her house. Then we applied this idea of “adding something” to her budget to address her money concerns while her business was still growing. Within one week, Katie created two new forms of income for herself. She asked her adult son who was living with her to start paying rent (he happily agreed!), and she submitted a request to her local yoga studio to teach a series of workshops (they agreed, too!).
This is the power our homes have to enlighten our lives!
Now I invite you to try using the Living Space Tool on your own. I’ve recapped the steps for you below. And remember, the living spaces you choose don’t have to be entire rooms. They can be a closet, a corner, an outdoor area, etc.
1. Describe your favorite space in your house in detail, including how it makes you feel.
2. Describe your least favorite space in your house in detail, including how it makes you feel.
3. Ask yourself, “How is my least favorite space like another area of my life? What area of my life does my least favorite space feel like? Or remind me of?” (For Katie, her money worries felt the same as her downstairs living room.)
4. Come up with one simple thing you can do to your least favorite space to make it feel more like your favorite space. (For Katie, it was adding something new to the space that she loved.)
5. Consider how to creatively apply that solution to the area in your life that you want to improve. (For Katie, it was adding some new income streams to her life while her business was still growing.)
6. Taking baby steps to make these improvements is absolutely critical. You’ll have a much better chance of completing the step if it’s super easy and achievable. And each step you accomplish will increase your confidence and motivation to continue moving forward.
So, before picking up that sledgehammer to demolish the space in your home you love the least, consider playing with the Living Space Tool. The area you love the least just might have some of the greatest wisdom for your life!
As always, thanks for visiting Blossom of Snow and being part of this beautiful community.
P.S. If you know anyone who's been struggling with something and just can't seem to figure it out, I invite you to forward this post to them to try this creative approach. We're all in this together!
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