Picture Thinkers Proclaim"It wasn't until I got into thinking in pictures that I found my way to a love that works and just keeps getting better and better." So said Jake after his second divorce and several serious love affairs had crashed and burned. A fair amount of regular talk therapy kept him going but did little for helping him get the love he so longed for.
Lacey’s experience was different. She said, "It was like I couldn't get past the first line in a song. Every time I got going with a new love interest, which was hard enough, it just didn't work out one way or another. Then an art therapist got me into thinking with pictures. Wow! I saw what I could never have explained or understood with words alone. That almost totally changed my way of going about love, romance, dealing with my family and dealing with myself. Now, thinking pictorially guides my way with my marriage and my two lovely step-children as well. It's probably not for everyone but it sure works for me."
What is it exactly that Jake and Lacey did that made their love relationships start working and then work better and better? To really understand that, a little background information is needed.
Thinking in PicturesThe majority of people think primarily in words and some may not be able to think in pictures at all. However, most can, and with some work, they can get good at it. Some seem to be naturally good at it like many visual artists, architects, design engineers, etc. People good at visual imagery and symbolic cognition often can reason pictorially, gain insights and have more global understandings which might be very hard to accomplish by words alone. By doing so, they sometimes can arrive at fresh, creative and improved approaches and solutions to any of life's challenges. This can include those challenges and problems having to do with love. In fact, for many solving love problems and making advancements in love by way of thinking with pictures actually may prove to work better than trying to do so with words. The reason for that has to do with the way your brain works.
Your Brain and Thinking in PicturesWhen you think with pictures, your brain uses more and different parts than it does when you think in words alone. Using those parts that deal with pictures frequently gets different and often better results than when you think only in words. My experience with thousands of clients dealing with love issues tells me these picture or visual image ways of cognition can do just about everyone a great service with each and every type of love relating. Using picture techniques often has been of considerable healing value in conducting individual, couple, family, sex and divorce adjustment therapy.
When we are doing picture thinking or visual cognition, brain scans and other brain activity diagnostic procedures shows a lot more going on in the deeper regions of the brain where it so happens that love largely is processed (see “What Your Brain Does With Love – Put Simply” and “Limbic Love & Why You Will Do Well To Know About It”). Certain forms of therapy like Gestalt, Psychosynthesis and art therapy have developed ingenious techniques that appear to make great use of these brain phenomena involving picture thinking. If you want to know more about this you may want to read Visual Thinking by Dr. Rudolf Arnheim and Upside Down Brilliance by Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman.
Three Kinds of Picture ThinkingLet me recommend you consider learning to use at least one of these three kinds of thinking about love with pictures so as to improve the types, quality and quantity of love going on in your life.
1. The Insight and Wisdom Gathering Approach
First, an example. In a semi-hypnotic state, I asked Alex to visualize in some detail his three exes standing in front of him. Then I asked him to see them slowly merging into one being. Finally, I requested he tell me what he saw. Alex immediately said, "My grandmother, but as a young woman. She was the only woman who ever really loved me and I now know what to do next! I have to stop trying to find a copy of her and I have to stop trying to make-over other women into her. I have to love them for who they are and not compare them to her which I didn't know I was doing until right now.
Alex's sudden insight was fairly rare so let's look at another example.
Shelley drew an ugly sketch of her wounded heart which looked deformed and had a bleeding gash in it. Then she was asked to draw a sketch of her heart healing. This to her seemed impossible at first. A week later she came back with a healthier looking heart sketch that was stitched up and there were mountains in the background and musical notes floating in the air around it. In much better spirits, Shelley related her heart was indeed healing and she had been greatly helped by drawing this picture several times and listening to beautiful music and then going to the botanical gardens twice in the last week, as it seemed to her the drawing had pushed her to do. Shelley titled the picture "I'm going to be okay after all". She later described her drawings as being done by her wise and loving, internal, core self that she had mentally met by doing a drawing of an elderly, Cheyenne, medicine woman. Shelley also described now being more comfortable with herself than perhaps she ever had been.
2. Diagrammatic Comprehension
In my practice, I met with a number of engineers in the aircraft and related industries along with their families in couples and/or family therapy. Quite a few, at first, thought things psychological and emotional were impossible to deal with and were fuzzy, amorphous, intangible things. Early on, I discovered that if I showed an engineer a diagram of his issues, or situation, or his own inner workings, the therapeutic process started working and then sped up. Diagrams also were quickly useful in helping engineers talk to their family members about their feelings which otherwise often were quite difficult for them. Sometimes later I would help them create their own diagrammatic understandings and subsequent solutions. Implementing these solutions took more work but without the diagrammatic picture they might never have been arrived at.
I remember an architect who visualized all the rooms in his psychological heart-house and, by doing so, figured out what he needed to do in each room – to become more romantic in the bedroom and the dining room, to be nurturing in more different ways in the kitchen, to have more time to himself in his den, etc. I also remember a metallurgist who in thinking in stress analysis diagrams, figured out how his destructive, quick temper could be dealt with better. That helped his family situation tremendously. Then there were the families who created family interaction diagrams together and, in the process, worked out more loving ways to relate to each other.
Working things out diagrammatically did not always work but it helped more often than not. It also showed me understandings of what to do with individuals, couples and families I don't think I would otherwise have been able to arrive at.
3. Planning and Practicing Love Advances
This is a technique used a lot in sports and in the performing arts, especially dance. It is one in which you visually create a mental movie of exactly how you plan to move, speak, touch and otherwise behave, so as to enact your love. In doing that, you both create a plan and practice or rehearse the plan so as to do it better than you otherwise might have accomplished it. Here is an example to use right now.
Mentally picture someone you love or want to have a love relationship with. Spend time really seeing them in your mind's eye. Picture their facial expression, posture, gestures if any, clothing or lack thereof, and everything else your mind’s eye can see. Then mentally, in slow-motion, see yourself going to that person and watch how you lovingly look at them, touch them, speak to them, listen to them and interact with them. Now, visualizing the mental movie again, improve it.
Visualize and mentally experiment with different ways of touching, standing a bit closer, further away or sitting, varying your facial expressions, making your voice more loving, etc. Once you have it just right, practice it in your mind several times. Then go do it.
Of course, it is not likely to occur or turn out just the way you pictured it. Every football player knows that no matter how many times in practice you run the play, in the actual game it will work differently but it will work better than without the practice.
Now, you may have been taught that all of love is supposed to be spontaneous and so planning and rehearsing seems phony or not genuine. Let me contest that with the questions, “Isn't love important enough to do skillfully, and isn't the best of love often planned, practiced and, therefore, often better executed?
Using Other People's PicturesAnother way of thinking with pictures is to look at other people's pictures and discover what pops up in your own mind for the interpretation. The idea here is not to try to figure out what the artist meant or was trying to convey, but rather let your own subconscious mind project into the picture its own meaning. Then have your conscious mind become aware of your subconscious conceptualization and its understanding or message.
For practice, look at the illustration accompanying this mini-love-lesson. Start with the three hearts with question marks at the bottom of the illustration. Ask yourself to let these three parts represent three questions in your mind concerning you, and love, and your own love relationships. Imagine, guess, or just make up the three questions. Let the colors also have different meanings. For instance, green might have something to do with growth.
Now, go up to the, framed pictures and imagine they represent a symbolic reply to the three questions. Your job is to guess or pretend you know the meaning and give it to yourself. For instance, if the green were to represent the question “how do you grow more self-love?” and the picture of a sailing ship appeared to mean you have to sail away from your current life, and land on a different lifestyle shore to grow more self-love, you would have an answer to ponder, integrate with other self-awareness, or struggle with it if you just could not just accept it.
Next, look at the flowing, multicolored arrow pointing to the single heart with the ! in it. Might it symbolize a synthesis of the three questions arriving at a single answer or conclusion? If so, for you and your questions what might that synthesis be? Can you let your subconscious tell you right now, or perhaps tonight in a dream, or in an abstract sketch you might draw tomorrow?
You also might ask yourself what is your projected meanings for how the pictures are framed, colored, positioned, and what about the parts that are covered up. Perhaps they all can be meaningful to you personally if you let them. This works because whatever you think comes from you, and represents you and probably your deeper, inner processes which may be much wiser than you know
Now, here is another thing you can do. Most of the mini-love-lesson comes with an illustration. Can you find a hidden meaning or message in every one you examine? Some of them have blank spots or empty places. What meaning or message will you find there? Don't forget to think about the colors and what they might mean to you. With a little work, every illustration can be used to tell you about you, and love in your life, because that is what they are all about and because your deeper, non-conscious mind can project into them messages for your conscious mind, if you work at it (see “Love Your Brain – Why & How”, "Listening With Love and In & Out Brain Functions”).
One More Little ThingMight you do well to share this mini-love-lesson with somebody else and see what they think? If you do please tell him about this site and all the totally free love lessons.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question: If your psychological heart were a house, what would it look like and what would be going on in its basement, in its attic, as well as in the other rooms? (You might try to sketch or draw your reply)