Earlier this week, I found a new metaphor, which was just so interesting and so enlightening to me.
I thought it would be great to share it with you to see if you are as interested and as enlightened as I was.
If you’ve been following me or if you’ve scanned through some of the titles of the podcast, you may remember that a little over six months ago, my husband and I started a renovation on the house that we are currently living in. And this project has brought up so much resistance for me. So this whole experience has been like a test kitchen or a lab for me to practice all my own skills on myself and learn about and practice accepting and letting go so there have been so many benefits. Today I want to share another benefit of this renovation and move process since we are still in what I like to call the messy middle of the renovation.
Update on Renovation
Just to give you a quick update in case you don’t follow me on social media and you haven’t seen some of the projects that my husband has been working on, he has almost completed the hall bath and he did a beautiful tile wall. The tile is so lovely. It’s iridescent, it’s kind of like pearly. Now we have a very light blushy pink called Romance as the wall color, which I’m just so pleased with. Last week we were able to find the perfect vanity to fit in that space.
Replacing Kitchen Cabinets
Another project that got closer to completion this past week was the replacement of some of our lower kitchen cabinets.
The story of this, or the reason behind the cabinets is that this house is what might be considered a starter home, I think everything was originally builder grade when it was built. And let’s just say, expenses were saved. Corners may have been cut. I guess these are the stories that I’m making up about how this house came into existence. One of the kitchen cabinets specifically is very, very narrow and it doesn’t need to be that narrow because there’s plenty of space for a wider cabinet in that spot. But what the builders did when they installed that cabinet was they installed this very, very narrow cabinet. And then they just put a panel to hide the gap between the edge of the cabinet and the wall.
Why Is It So Narrow?
To the untrained eye or for someone who’s not paying too close attention, it just looks like, “oh, well, that’s the cabinet. That’s how wide it is. That’s where it fits.” But when you looked at it, if you really focus on it, you might wonder: “why doesn’t the opening of the cabinet go all the way to the wall, why is there such a narrow cabinet door and drawer in that space where it could be so much wider based on the distance to the wall?”
My husband noticed this and he was aware that wider cabinets are available for purchase and installation. And so since we are going to redo the kitchen countertops soon, he decided that he would just lift the current countertop up, pull out the narrow cabinet, replace it with a wider cabinet, and then paint everything to match.
And then we’re one step closer to having the kitchen complete since that step needed to happen prior to getting the kitchen countertops done.
So that all happened (not without incident). We had a mishap in the delivery of the cabinets. We lost a drawer – we got the wrong size at first, but anyhow, it all worked out. Earlier this week, my husband had his cousin took off the kitchen counter top, pulled out, not only that narrow cabinet, but another one ( I’ll tell you why in a minute). Then they replaced them with the new ones and put the countertop back on.
Always Meant to Be There
When I look at it now, I see the improvement. It makes so much sense. I realize those new cabinets are the ones that always should have been there the whole time. It doesn’t make any sense for the other ones that were pulled out to have been there in the first place. And it looks so normal and natural as if they were always meant to be there.
Why am I going on and on about kitchen cabinets? This isn’t a home design podcast! It’s because I love metaphors and I use metaphors to explain things – and these cabinets are a perfect metaphor!
What if these cabinets are like our thoughts and our beliefs?
What if we are currently thinking something and believing something that we inherited, or that was always there all along, that didn’t really make sense and wasn’t as big or expansive or really didn’t fit as well as it could have.
Unaware of a Better Fit
Maybe there is something that is an even better fit for us. And we were just unaware that a better or wider or more expansive option is even available to us. We don’t even realize those other thought options exist in the world. I didn’t realize it is possible to switch out a narrow cabinet for a wider cabinet. I didn’t even know that was an option until my husband suggested it. He knew where to go and had the tools and had the ability to pull it out and replace it with something that was a better fit. He replaced that narrow one with one that provided more space and more of an expansive feeling.
And, it wasn’t just one cabinet that got replaced. It was two. Obviously, the one that sparked this whole project was the unusually and unnecessarily narrow cabinet.
I’m making the metaphor that we might have some unusually and unnecessarily narrow thoughts or ideas or beliefs. They might feel very constricting and confining to us just like that cabinet with its tiny little narrow drawer, felt very constricting and confining to me when I was trying to fit things in and trying to make things work.
I remember wishing it wasn’t this narrow and recognizing I would have to make a special effort to find drawer dividers and organizational accessories that would work in such a confined space.
We might also have thoughts like that, that feel constricting. We might have a belief that feels very confining and we recognize it. We know, “oh, I wish I wasn’t so limited here. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to make everything fit into my narrow concept of this. I wish this wasn’t holding me back.”
We might have thoughts like that.
Replacing With Something That Fits Better
The metaphor here is in the cabinet example: someone was able to come along, recognize it, know that there was a better option, know that there was a more expansive option and know how and be willing to pull it out and replace it with something that was a better fit that did allow for more space and more options.
We can do this with our thoughts. Maybe with some help from a friend, or a coach. We want to be able to recognize our thought is too narrow, know that there is a better option, know that there is a more expansive option and know how and be willing to pull out that thought and replace it with something that is a better fit that allows for more space and more options.
That is the example of the first cabinet that was too narrow.
Fine and Functional
Here’s what happened with the 2nd cabinet. We have the middle cabinet that goes under the sink and it had some light water damage from an old dishwasher. From the front of it, it looked fine.
There was no major problem with it. It was fine and functional and doing its job and just going great, no problem.
Since he was pulling up the countertop and replacing cabinets anyhow, my husband just decided to switch from an old one to a new one, but with exactly the same dimensions.
What we didn’t realize when he installed the new sink cabinet was there were some slight differences that we hadn’t noticed.
The old sink cabinet had a divider in the middle. The two doors close onto a static middle divider. It also had two false front drawers under the sink. Those are two rectangular openings with two false fronts. It’s very standard. If you look around kitchens in the United States, you’ll see many kitchens, unless they’re custom, probably have a setup like this.
What we didn’t pay attention to, but now are so happy and pleased about, when we got the replacement cabinet is that it doesn’t have that middle divider.
Instead of the two false fronts under the sink, it has one wide false front that covers the entire length of the cabinet.
This new cabinet opened up so many more options, because it makes it easier for a new under-mount sink installation. Whenever we get our new sink, when we get our new countertops, this new cabinet gives us the option to have a flip down false front. It’s a good place to put small tools or sponges in front of the sink.
The problem with the two false fronts was that the hardware for two of the flip down drawers would not be possible with the sink there. There’s just not enough room in that tight space for the sink and the two sets of hardware. But when the false front is extended to one long piece, now it only needs hardware on each edge of the cabinet. Now, suddenly that makes space so that we can have that false front flip-down drawer option that we didn’t think we could have.
Because we don’t have the middle piece where the two doors meet anymore, now it gives us more room for putting more things under the sink. If you read my Reno Reminders post, you know that this kitchen is much smaller and much more tight on space and storage. So any time that we get a little bit more space or options for putting things away, we appreciate it.
Feeling Small, Tight and Confined
This cabinet metaphor just keeps on coming! We had one cabinet that we knew was too confining. It was easily recognizable that this one was holding us back, so to speak, The cabinet was keeping us small, and making us feel tight and confined. The cabinet wasn’t taking full advantage of what was available. There was plenty of space for it to spread out, but for whatever reason, the original builders just decided to go with the narrowest one they could find instead of one that fit the space perfectly.
The second cabinet was fine and functional. We had no idea that there was something even better available until we went out and grabbed what we thought was the same. And when we installed it, it turned out to have so many better benefits and options that we didn’t even know we wanted and didn’t even know we were missing.
So here comes the metaphor: I think this is the same when it comes to our beliefs. We might recognize that we have some beliefs that are confining, that do hold us back. Thoughts that don’t let us use our full potential.
And in other areas of our life, we might be fine and everything is functional. And we might – just out of an opportunity or out of some chance – decide to upgrade the thought. Switching a thought that is fine and as functional to something slightly different and better might have so many additional benefits and bonuses that we didn’t even consider.
Hopefully you’re loving this metaphor as much as I am. I’m wondering if you can already see some applications or examples of this metaphor in your own life. I saw some in my own life.
“I Don’t Like Her”
Here’s one that is easy to recognize because it is confining. I was thinking a thought that wasn’t allowing me to use my full potential.
Probably a year ago, maybe a little longer, I met a woman – let’s just call her a friend of a friend. My initial reaction was “I don’t like her.” Not in a mean way. I didn’t hate her. I just kind of noticed my own reaction to her. And as we all probably do, I just kind of thought, “oh, she’s not really my style. We’re not really on the same vibe. She’s probably not someone who I would choose to spend time with. I don’t like her.”
That thought I was thinking just seems like a fact. There are some people in this world that we like. And some people that we don’t like.
It just seemed involuntary and factual and irreplaceable. You know what I mean, right? If you just don’t like someone, you just don’t like them. It’s not a problem. You don’t have to spend time with them. You don’t have to make it mean anything. You just don’t like the person. That’s how it is. So that’s kind of what I was thinking about this person who was distant, unrelated, not a big player in my cast of characters in my life.
Not a Foregone Conclusion
Now that things have started to open up and people are being a little bit more social and there are more events happening. I’ve encountered this person a little bit more than I have in the past year. I noticed my own thought, my own assumption of the truth, that I don’t like her. I noticed that it felt a little confining. Luckily, maybe because of my practice of managing my mind and noticing my thoughts, I noticed, “oh, I am thinking I don’t like her.” Instead of just assuming that was a foregone conclusion, I noticed, I was thinking it and that it was a thought. I noticed that thought felt pretty confining. I realized that I didn’t have to not like her. I know that I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t like people.
I want to love unconditionally. I want to be non judgmental. So when I noticed myself thinking, “Hmm, I don’t like her.” I thought to myself, “but I could like her.”
Not liking her is actually a choice. So that was interesting. That was me recognizing, “oh, there is a larger cabinet available. Another cabinet could fit in this space.” Keeping this cabinet, keeping this thought is a confining choice.
The Possibility of Liking Someone
I decided to think about the possibility of liking her. I let myself wonder how I could start liking her. I’m just in the wondering phase right now.
I really haven’t taken too much action on this yet. Certainly not any massive action at all. I haven’t really come up with a strategy of how I’m going to fall in love with this person or tolerate her or start to like her. I really have just been poking around the edges of the thought: “I don’t like her” and noticing that thought doesn’t have to be true.
I could actually like her, if I decided I wanted to like her and I have actually decided I want to like her.
It’s been really interesting to notice my own reaction when I see her and also notice myself thinking about her at other times, even when we’re not in the same company.
And I have to say, I’m starting to like her. Isn’t that interesting?
Replacing and Expanding
So there’s an example of a cabinet/thought that I have replaced or am in the process of replacing with something that’s a little bit larger, a little bit more expansive, certainly much more comfortable than the confining cabinet/thought I had been thinking.
Another example of an easy to recognize confining belief that I have now replaced with a larger, more comfortable, more perfect fit belief is going back to this house and this move. My belief before was that I wasn’t going to like living here and I wasn’t going to like this house.
Maybe I Will Love It
And that thought “I won’t like it,” that belief that I really believed and told myself over and over again, (“I’m not going to like living in that house. I’m not going to like that house.”) was certainly confining, certainly uncomfortable, certainly small minded, certainly narrow minded.
It’s been so opening and expanding for me to think maybe I was wrong about that. Maybe I will love living in this house. It’s possible that I will love this neighborhood. This house might be great for me.
How interesting that I have stumbled upon this metaphor so now I’m wondering what if I walked around my house to see what other inherited builder-grade decisions were made in the past that I am currently living with that I don’t need to? What other things am I living with that could be expanded or could be replaced and would be so much better and so much more comfortable?
Touring Your Mind
So, that makes me wonder: can I tour through my mind and notice what other inherited thoughts and beliefs I am living with that I could replace with something more expansive, more comfortable, more my style, more of my choosing?
When I started to consider that, I will tell you, I got a little bit of resistance from myself. I found some avoidant resistance. I noticed the sentence “oh, think about that later. Don’t try to focus on that right now. Just think of that later.” My mind did not want to go there.
Resistance and Being on the Lookout
That makes perfect sense. I’m suggesting to my mind: “why don’t you go in and tear out some countertops and pull out some cabinets and spend time and money and make a mess and go in and change things that are working ok right now.”
Of course, my mind is going to say, “do not do that, do not spend any energy or effort to rearrange anything. Just keep it all as is. It’s all fine. Don’t worry about it.”
So now I know I want to be on the lookout for what other thoughts and beliefs I currently have that could be bigger, better, more expansive, more comfortable and use more of my own potential.
What About You?
Carrying on with this metaphor, what about you? How would you find those things?
What if you are having some avoidant resistance like I am? What if your mind is telling you “Nope. Nothing to change here. There’s no improvements that need to be made. No replacements of any thoughts. All the thoughts and beliefs up here are just totally fine and normal. Nothing’s too confining, nothing too constricting.”
Well, you might already know that you do have some confining and constricting thoughts because you can see the results of those in your life. Maybe some of your relationships aren’t exactly as you would want them to be. It’s possible your career or business isn’t exactly as you want it to be. Is your self-esteem or your self-concept or your own confidence in general, or in one specific area living up to its full potential?
What Would You Replace?
You might have already identified that narrow cabinet/thought that I’ve been describing that is just holding you back right now. It’s just not as big or as wide as it could be. It’s just not using its full capacity. You might already know about that and it could be something – that if you decided to – you could work on replacing.
But how would you find the ones that are fine and functional and doing their job and going along great, but could actually be so much better and so much more comfortable and allow for more possibilities and more options? What if we all don’t even realize that upgrading a thought or belief is an option right now?
How could we find those thoughts? I have two suggestions (and you can probably guess what they are.)
Coaching and Journaling
One of them is coaching and the other suggestions is – say it with me- journaling.
These are both tools that I use myself and I love and I stand by and recommend. I know they can help you too.
Just like in the cabinet metaphor, where my husband is someone who has the tools and the experience and the awareness of other options available in our kitchen, working with a coach is like working with someone who has the tools and the experience and the awareness of other thoughts that you might think that you’re not even aware exist, or that you wouldn’t even think to replace.
A coach is someone who could come in and notice and point out, “Hey, you could actually have something more expansive there. You could actually have something more comfortable there. You could actually use all of that potential instead of just part of it.” That’s why I’m recommending coaching if you are curious about what thoughts can be expanded or replaced.
Journaling is like coaching. I consider journaling my self coaching time. It’s a way for you to just spill out all those thoughts on paper, just get them all out and then notice them. Take a look at them. Think about them. See if there are any patterns. Play around with those thoughts. Consider which thoughts don’t have to be true for you. Consider which thoughts could be replaced by something more comfortable, more allowing and more expansive.
Is it Possible to Upgrade Our Thoughts?
What do you think? Is it possible to upgrade our thoughts the same way we would upgrade cabinets in a kitchen? Which one do you think is the messier job? Or the more uncomfortable job?
Can you imagine yourself working with a coach or journaling in order to recognize the current thoughts that just aren’t doing it for you right now? Or, that are fine, but could be upgraded to be even better?
I’m excited to learn a few things from you:
How did you like this metaphor?
Did I lose you with all the cabinet talk- or did you get where I was going with this?
Do you have any resistance to rearranging and renovating the thoughts in your mind?
What questions do you have about how you could go about doing this?
If you want to try out coaching with me, go to the Work With Me page so you can see a few options.
If you want to try out journaling, grab a notebook, piece of paper or even the back of a napkin and start writing what you’re thinking. And, of course, if you want to get yourself a new journal or notebook, you can check out my journal and notebook .