A back-packing self help metaphor
It seems that we all carry our own rucksacks on life’s journey. In our rucksack we carry our life’s experiences and expectations, and these influence the way we are, what we do, and what we make of our life and how we go about it. Our rucksack – and what we carry in it - affects the way we think, feel and act: towards ourselves, towards others, and towards life in general.
What’s in your rucksack that’s affecting your ability to cope with daily life?
Past experiences – memories, thoughts, images, ruminating about the past
Current concerns – life circumstances, worries.
What’s keeping your problems going now?
Future – anxiety about what might happen and your ability to cope
Your core beliefs about yourself, others and the world as a result of past experiences, current circumstances and anxiety about the future
If you could picture your rucksack, how big would it be?
Imagine the rucksack, in your mind's eye right now, and notice what it might look like
Consider drawing the rucksack
What does it feel like when you’re carrying the rucksack?
How does carrying the rucksack affect you? (in different situations, generally)
What emotions do you often experience?
Physical sensations: What do you often feel in your body? E.g.
What do other people see (when you’re carrying your rucksack)?
Is there only one rucksack or do you have different ones? What do they
look like (etc)? When do you use them? What’s in them…..etc?
What else is there about the rucksack, or about you when you’re carrying
Are there times when you don’t carry the rucksack, or when it feels lighter, or is different in any way?
Are there things in your rucksack that help you cope with your difficulties? What are they?
What is it about your rucksack that keeps you going or stops you getting worse?
Are these coping strategies helping you in the long term?
What would be the first thing you would change about the way you cope?
What would you do more of or start doing?
What would you do less of or stop doing?
Could you carry a different rucksack, or could you make changes to the one you have?
What would your new rucksack be like? What colour would you like it to be? How big would it be? How does it fasten? How do you wear it? How heavy would it be? What would be in it? What would you carry?
What would be most helpful for you to carry with you?
How would you feel different if you were able to take off the rucksack?
Would you start by lightening the rucksack in some way? How?
If you took the rucksack off, what would be the first thing you’d notice? And then what?
What would others notice if you weren’t wearing your rucksack?
What would need to happen before you could take the rucksack off or lighten the load?
How would things be different if you didn’t have your rucksack?
What thoughts would go through your mind at that time?
What would that feel like? (emotionally and in your body)
What would it look like? What would you do differently?
What would be the first thing you would notice that was different?
What would be the next thing?
What would others notice about you?
What would be the first thing they’d notice or comment on?
Now that we know more about your rucksack, and how you’d like things to be when you discard your rucksack, make an action plan to start bringing these things about:
What do I need to stop doing?
What do I need to do more of?
Notice and remind myself about the rucksack and how it affects the way I think, feel and act, and how it’s keeping me feeling bad
Remember the new rucksack or being without the rucksack, and how I would think and feel differently
Remind myself what I would be doing differently without a rucksack, or with a new rucksack
Imagine myself (at least x 3 daily) without the rucksack, doing, thinking and feeling differently
Tell myself I have discarded the rucksack, and I can be the new me
Rucksacks - this page as PDF