Sometimes it is really hard to separate you, the driver of your VAN, from your painful passengers. This exercise can be used to help you get better at distancing yourself from your painful thoughts and struggles with them.
When you notice a painful thought, maybe a story your mind likes to give you a lot (e.g., “I’m never going to get better”, “I’m a bad person”, “I’m unlovable”), see if you can close your eyes and imagine that thought on the floor in front of you. Once you’ve gotten out on the floor, answer the following questions about it:
If it had a color, what color would it be?
If it had a size, how big would it be?
If it had a shape, what shape would it be?
If it had power, how much power would it have?
If it had speed, how fast would it go?
If it had a surface texture, what would it feel like?
Now you can really visualize what your pain creature looks like- you can even draw it if you are feeling extra creative! Look at the object and see if you can reduce any struggle you are having with it by letting it go. Is this thing and all its shape, texture, color, etc. something that is worth your energy? Take note of any thoughts or feelings you have about your pain creature. If you are having a hard time letting go of that struggle, do this exercise over again by visualizing your struggle on the floor in front of you.
When you are ready, invite the pain creature back inside you. Try to do so in a loving, welcoming way, demonstrating your willingness to have them. You don’t have to like them, just be willing to have them.