Other Stories

The Carpet

Leslie Cameron-Bandler was working with a woman who had a compulsive behavior—she was a clean-freak. She was a person who even dusted light bulbs! The rest of her family could function pretty well with everything the mother did except for her attempts to care for the carpet. She spent a lot of her time trying to get people not to walk on it, because they left footprints—not mud and dirt, just dents in the pile of the rug.
When this woman looked down at the carpet and saw a footprint in it, her response was an intense negative kinesthetic gut reaction. She would rush off to get the vacuum cleaner and vacuum the carpet immediately. She was a professional housewife. She actually vacuumed the carpet three to seven times a day. She spent a tremendous amount of time trying to get people to come in the back door, and nagging at them if they didn’t, or getting them to take their shoes off and walk lightly.
There were three children, all of whom were there rooting for Leslie. The family seemed to get along fine if they were not at home. If they went out to dinner, they had no problems. If they went on vacation, there were no problems. But at home everybody referred to the mother as being a nag, because she nagged them about this, and nagged them about that. Her nagging centered mainly around the carpet.
What Leslie did with this woman is this: she said “I want you to close your eyes and see your carpet, and see that there is not a single footprint on it anywhere. It’s clean and fluffy—not a mark anywhere.”
This woman closed her eyes, and she was in seventh heaven, just smiling away. Then Leslie said “And realize fully that that means you are totally alone, and that the people you care for and love are nowhere around.” The woman’s expression shifted radically, and she felt terrible!
Then Leslie said “Now, put a few footprints there and look at those footprints and know that the people you care most about in the world are nearby.” And then, of course, she felt good again.

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