Private 19: Be the director of your mental stage

The Bare Minimum rule certainly aided me hugely in ‘releasing the ghosts from my Haunting Zone’. I powered through a whole load of the work backlog. And my goodness, what relief I felt – and how instantly warm I felt towards the dear souls from whom I’d been cowering!

So why the early morning wake up today? 

Hm… Yes, I probably woke at 4.30am and eventually gave in and got up at 5.30am. My chest felt like it was being pulled inwards by a set of tightening strings. I thought I’d ask you… What’s up then?

We can see you chuntering hard around the project you’re working on. 

Working on?! I’ve been FROZEN on it! And it’s due tomorrow! I set aside two full days to accomplish the task and I filled BOTH of those days with a) paralysis or b) other, more ‘urgent’ stuff.

So now you have til tomorrow. Shall we chunk it up? You know the amazing pre-frontal cortex can do many amazing things, but it simply cannot multitask – and that includes holding a plethora of pressing items in its short term memory.

(See the brilliant book I’m reading: Your Brain at Work, David Rock)

So let’s reorganise that plethora into manageable chunks to which you can then apply your Bare Minimum rule, as you bring them on to your Mental Stage one chunk at a time (maximum 4 today).

I’ve got two (non-work) appointments in town… 9.30-12.30 ( = 8.45-1.30 including travel time – that’s half a day…)

That’s fine. The first one (exercise class) you can easily ditch if you haven’t completed a chunk by 8am. If you have completed a chunk by 8am, you might value the break. Otherwise, pick up the 11-1 meeting only. 

The value of the first option is physical exercise.

Drop the meeting? 

And offend or inconvenience?


This isn’t quite the main issue, is it?

No, dear one. Go inside for a bit. 

***5 mins***

Anger, upset, touch of rage….

What boundaries need to be asserted?

Against the ‘meddling’ by the dear colleagues, which undermines my expertise and makes me lose the ability to function… Eek… The ‘shared’ decision-making is too much for my brain to handle. I can’t think because those colleagues are on my Mental Stage, prodding and deflating and breaking my concentration.

Maybe need to keep a distance..?

Yes. That is actually a really good solution, for the greater cause, which is getting the project completed. I feel relieved at that option. Thank you.

So, the takeaway message for today?

Be the director of your mental stage. David Rock describes

  • the Stage as the arena of your current thinking at any one moment – it refers to what your pre-frontal cortex (PFC) is focussing on. We are reminded that the PFC, while extremely clever at interacting with the world, has a very, very small capacity/RAM/working memory. 
  • the Actors coming in from the wings are the factors coming in from the Outer World, often uninvited or unexpected (unless we have ways/habits to keep them waiting in the wings til invited) – emails, phone calls, notifications, other people, colleagues. 
  • the Audience members represent our Inner World – our thoughts, emotions and memories. The more recent ones sit at the front, the older ones are far from the stage – and harder to get on stage (‘retrieve’) if needed. These audience members might heckle, interrupt, leap on the stage unbidden too. 

Basically, I need to find a way to carry out a one-woman show from time to time, without stage invasions from the wings or the stalls. Right?

Certainly. And there is value in your learning to remain as protagonist (main character) in your mental stage play – as opposed to letting the ‘ghosts’ take over the narrative drive. Who is the main actor in your mind? If the conditions have been prepared well – it is you.

And who is the director?

Also you. It is the conscious, aware, creating part of you that decides who/what gets to go up on your mental stage at any one time, and that orders interlopers off the stage if uninvited. 

The director directing actors on the stage

Ok. I like this. Thank you.

So, DirectorMe directs ActorMe, and holds the space of the mental stage so the story can be told and the work can be done.

Be the director of your mental stage


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