Gesturing, I then ask when that happens, to please put whatever they do not agree with on the shelf for future assessment. It is with the student’s permission and with gratitude that I am sharing with you a letter I just received:
Subject: "Put it on the shelf"
I had a realization of why the "put it on the shelf" visualization works so effectively. I want to share it with you.
I found myself contemplating the circumstances leading to an event. After achieving some progress, I began to notice a deep sadness within me. Understanding that I had reached a point that I was no longer making progress and just sitting in the feeling of sadness, I decided to "put it on the shelf", sleep on it, and come back to it.
I noticed the picture in my mind of this decision. I reached into my chest, pulled the feeling of sadness out of my chest, and placed it up onto the shelf above my head. As it moved upward from my chest to the shelf I felt the feeling of sadness dissipate completely.
This brought my thoughts to something you had mentioned in class. When someone looks up, they are avoiding emotion. When they look down, they are accessing the emotion. This is why we bring their focus down (for example, into their chest) to bring them into their emotion.
I then realized the true power of the shelf analogy.
When someone is uncomfortable or unsure of their feelings, belief, or attitude about what they are being told, putting that "up" on the shelf moves it to a place out of emotion. There it can sit on the shelf, objectively without judgement of good or bad, right or wrong, for as long as it wants to, without hitting the "save button".