I’ve moved to a new home which had been neglected for some time. Let’s just say it didn’t just need a new can of paint, but needed the holes in the walls to be patched before the paint could go on. As they say, a change is as good as a vacation, so we rolled up our sleeves and got to doing the necessary work needed to make the place livable. Now, our kitchen was nothing to write home about with (less than) contractor grade everything. So we decided to paint our cabinets to get them a fresh look. And then I took it a step further… I decided to paint the interiors and shelves a “Sassy Green”. Yes, the INSIDES of the cabinets. So after some household ‘team’ discussions about the judiciousness of this paint job, I realized that this household chore had a higher purpose – and thought I’d share how my cabinet project links in with the mind.
If Cabinets Get Painted in the Forest…
There’s a saying about trees falling in the forest not making a sound if there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound (?). Similarly, if a cabinet is painted on the inside and very few people open them, does it matter?
Well, I believe it does. While I might mention it to friends, or visitors may notice when they are in the kitchen, this was something I did just for me. It wasn’t because I saw it in a magazine, or my favourite movie-star did it in her home, I just got a feeling and acted on it. So if it’s just for me what do I get out of it? Just think for a moment – have you ever done something that was just for you? I know of many women who put on pretty undergarments under a tough-and-strong business suit. No one else knows, just the individual who wears it.
In some ways, I think that doing something that you and you alone knows makes it an even more powerful message to the mind. In a world of “modal operator verbs” such as have to, must and should, it is nice to have a ‘just because’ or ‘because I felt like it’ situation in life. It gives us a feeling that we’ve flexed our choice muscles, and we can own it.
The subconscious mind works by association. When I chose to paint the insides of my cabinets I did so because my plan was to change the countertops (that had sassy green flecks in it). Now if the countertops hadn’t happened, I would have still been happy with my choice, but there was an association from the painting that made the other job more ‘top of mind’. When I opened the cabinets, whether consciously or unconsciously, I thought about the countertops. And because I was reminded of it so often with the opening and closing of doors, the idea of the next step compounded and reinforced itself in my mind. As it turns out, from a list of many things to do, the countertops got done as one of the first projects.
Coincidence? I think not. When we have reminders for ourselves, the subconscious connects and reinforces that association within ourselves. This can work to our detriment, for example, if we have constant reminders of things that make us unhappy, or remind us of our failings, we can emphasize that negativity, but if we bolster the good through subtle little reminders, we can support our minds and our internal links in a positive way.
Like Money in a Coat Pocket (and in your Mental Bank)
I remember as a university student, whenever I’d get money, I’d stash a few dollars in a couple coat pockets. Then when I put the coat on later (often when money was more sparse), I’d find it and feel ‘rich’ again and it would make me smile. Similarly to internal cabinet painting, this bizarre action has logical components. Firstly, it was just for me – no one else – and because I’d made that choice and done that action, I had flexed my personal support muscles in my mind. Secondly, the association at the time was that there was money everywhere which, as a student, is often far from the truth. And finally, it gave me an allover good feelings, which has a ‘halo’ effect of sending out supportive chemical responses within the body, fills our minds with better thoughts and feelings, which tends to lead to greater contentment and health. So what are the steps without having to start an interior decorating project?
- Find something that gives you pleasure or a positive feeling. No one else needs to know about it. While the research is in on the affirmative power of random acts of kindness , paying it forward (if you haven’t seen the movie “Pay it Forward”, rent it now!) or altruism, it doesn’t have to be for anyone else. Think about it on a fundamental level – self-love, self-confidence etc.
- If you can make a positive link or connection between the act you’re going to do and other aspects of your life, even better. It may even be in the decision process – “I’m doing this for myself, which means… (I love myself, I respect myself, I have great confidence…)
- Do it.
Maybe you feel it should be harder to get so much good stuff out of it, but it isn’t. So take the first step today. Make it small if you want, just do it for you. Because you really are worth it.
Think I’ll get a glass from my cabinets now 😉