If you google the "Cube Test" you'll find lots of variations for this now classic psychological/personality test. I first encountered it almost 20 years ago when a fellow student at Goldsmiths did the test on me, having been posed the test herself by her psychologist. I've no idea whether the test carries any validity any more, especially as google brings up some rather iffy sites in the results for this search, but it's stuck with me.
I don't remember the fine details of all my responses to the different parts of the test, such as the animals (other than a black cat) or the stairs (which in my case seemed to stop dead in mid air, and were nowhere near the cube) but I remember very clearly the cube. I still have the same image in my head. And I remember the storm.
My cube was larger than me, and intimidating, and the environment it was in was infinite. It was made of toughened safety glass, the kind with the metal mesh inside, that had so much wire criss-crossing it's way through the glass that it looked opaque, and it was impossible to see inside. It didn't look silver or metal coloured, it was closer to pale silver or white. It was incredibly strong and stable and firmly sitting on the ground; it couldn't be moved or broken.
And when the storm came, it was huge and dark and threatening. As it approached, I got inside the cube without a second thought.
The cube represents yourself (make what you will of my cube!) and the storm indicates what you do when trouble hits. And that's *exactly* what I do - I turn inwards. I look after myself. Except now as a grown up and a parent and a business owner and the person solely responsible for keeping us fed, it's not so easy to climb inside that cube any more.
I'm back at that point again where I feel incredibly depleted, and rather than withdraw and hibernate, I've figured that being kinder to myself would be a good path forward. This involves two things.
Sundays are now ME days, when I make things for myself. No work, no emails, no nothing for anyone else. Selfish sundays! When I've tried to have me days with something textiles related, like making a new dress or knitting something for myself, it still feels too close to work. And after a few years of promising that I'll get back into silversmithing, I've finally taken the plunge (those few years also involved slowly building up tools and materials - it's no cheap hobby!) and I'm on my way to making fabulous jewellery. It's energising, both for my energy levels and creativity, and I'm kicking myself for leaving it so long.
The second aspect is a little difficult. I'm essentially saying NO to people. I'll give wherever I can and invariably end up putting the needs of others before mine. Yet a few of these paths have ended up as one way streets, where some folk simply drain everything I have to give. I know this isn't intentional, it's just the way some folk are, but my energy, especially my emotional energy, isn't an infinite resource. I'll be volunteering less to do things for others, and I'll be saying no more often. What I really want to do is shield myself from other folk's negativity, as when I'm vulnerable like this I soak it up like a sponge and my own negativity gets amplified, but that's easier said than done.
I may not being able to get back inside my cube as often as I'd like, but I'm aiming to sit on the ground next to it a little more often, so I can be reminded of it's strength.
(ps/ I'm ok :) I'm just doing my thing of saying stuff out loud, both as a reminder to myself and the world at large)