The Padded Room Hypothesis

You wake up one morning. You are not feeling quite like yourself. Something is off. Your neurons fire in multiple directions, or you are hearing colors. You throw open your front door in what feels like an ecstasy-filled rage. Your clothing strewn across the front patio. Without any particular reason, you sprint down the sidewalk in the nude screaming “PINEAPPLE!” The entire neighborhood can hear. You have officially lost your damn mind.

The authorities pick you up, strap you down, and transport you to the nearest medical center. To match the most recent fashion trend, they wrap you up snugly in a straight jacket and toss you into padded room. You have no contact with the outside world. No television. No computers. No phone. Nothing. It is you, your straight jacket, and this empty void separating you from the outside world. Sitting there, you contemplate how you and the purple elephant in the corner got to this point.

This is the hypothetical situation I often present to my clients, friends, and family that I deem the “padded room hypothesis.” If you suddenly lost it one day and were carried away on a stretcher, what would be left of you? The setting takes away the items, situations, and relationships that we oft use to define who we are. It is now just you and only you.

It is merely another way of presenting the question “Who are you?” It is not about what possessions you have, what you do, or who you associate with. I am talking about the deep down components of your identity. I want you to focus on your personality traits, your memories, your beliefs, your values, and what makes you “you.” This is what we work to preserve through our self-care journey. The rest will follow suit.

It is time to ask yourself, “Who are you really?”

-The Caring Counselor

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