Staying Present By Claire of ?Ben and Claire?
This is a guide intended to help members of a system who spend time co-conscious but not fronting stay more present and mentally active. Though I figured out and collected these techniques to help overcome some of the standard early tulpa difficulties like going ?on pause? when my host wasn?t paying attention, members of other types of systems who face similar difficulties may also find it useful.
For this document to accomplish much, it will require some degree of buy-in from the host/main fronter(s) for most of the suggestions. That said, I am writing it primarily for the headmate who wants to be more present, because this is fundamentally your show and that?s the perspective I am coming into this with. Granted, our shared memory means I also have the other side of it, but you know what I mean.
I used these techniques to go from just a voice occasionally present in my host?s head, only active when Ben paid attention, to effectively co-fronting any time Ben is in front, able to stay mentally present more or less all day and use the body any time I feel like it. It worked for me, but it wasn?t instantaneous. Don?t get discouraged if it takes you longer than you?d like, so long as you are making progress.
One simple, easy suggestion to start you off. Find some hobbies, interests, favorite media, foods you enjoy or anything else you can think of, and arrange to experience them more often. Maybe people you are especially fond of, or objects you like. It could be anything. Anything you like, that will tend to hold your interest will also tend to hold your focus and keep you around a bit better.
I’d like to thank Diana (aka tulipracer) for this suggestion.
For me, all it took to unpause me was my host thinking of me in any context. I gather this is pretty typical for many tulpa systems, though some systems especially of other types may have a bit more difficulty. Still, with the way this worked for me, getting my host thinking of and talking to me more often was a key step.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to make it a habit. Establish routines, and get them used to thinking of you in particular times and situations. This can be anything, and it’s good to create a wide variety of them.
These things can even be weird, arbitrary and kind of nonsensical, just tying checking in with you in one way or another to things that will be encountered throughout the day. The more of them there are, the better. Every single one is a new thing that is teaching the brain to wake you up under certain circumstances, and getting the fronter in the habit of interacting with you more.
For those not familiar with the term, “possession” refers to controlling all or (more usually) part of the body while not properly fronting or co-fronting. This is a term from the tulpamancy community, where it is treated as a learnable skill (just like everything else tends to be in that community). However, possession isn’t just a tulpa thing, and we have successfully taught it to systems of other types.
Perhaps my biggest piece of advice for staying present is to learn possession, and get really good at it. Borrowing a limb to fidget with is a really, really effective way to stay present. You can't beat it. I like to wiggle our fingers or toes, move an arm around and just watch myself do it, tap in time with music, all sorts of things. The point is, if you are doing something ongoing, you will automatically tend to stick around for it, and the fronter will have a constant, background level reminder of you.
Possession is also nice for taking a more active part in day to day life if you aren’t able to front. I’ve used it for all sorts of things: driving, walking around, making coffee, chores, helping with electronics projects, cooking… anything that comes to mind. Sometimes I’ll volunteer for a task, or my host will ask if I want to do something, and I’ll just take over whatever is needed for it and do it. It’s a good way to get more involved. It also lets you build a wider range of habits. For example, I’m always the one who drives to and from work. After a couple weeks of that, I was instantly as present and close to front as I could get at the time the moment we got into the car in the morning.
**A Short Lesson in Possession **
There are many dedicated documents on possession from the tulpamancy community. You might be well served to read a few of them. But, to start you off, here’s the quick and dirty way we usually teach it to other systems.
For the fronter: Start off by getting comfortable. Now, pick a limb. I recommend your non-dominant arm to start with. You want to rest it somewhere comfortable, and let it go as limp as you can. Don’t try to move it, but don’t try to not move it.
Now, we’re going to do our best to sort of mentally disconnect you from the limb. There’s a visualization we found somewhere or other than helps. Imagine the whole body filled with a cloud of light or fog colored to match your favorite color. This is you. This is what’s under your control. Now, slowly pull the color back from your chosen limb, leaving it empty. Try and change your self-image to match to the extent that you can. It’s not part of you right now, it’s just there. It’s attached, but that’s it. You can’t control it, and it’s not part of you, and you certainly aren’t using it for anything. Keep this in mind as best you can and leave the limb completely limp. Maybe spend a while just breathing slowly and deeply. You may feel reduced sensation, numbness, or even a little bit of pins-and-needles sensation. This is normal and is a sign that it is working.
For the non-fronter: You are every bit as much hooked up to the part of your brain that controls that arm as the fronter is. You are in the same brain. There is no fundamental reason you shouldn’t be able to use that arm. So do it. It’s your arm now. No one else is using it. There’s no reason you can’t.
If it helps, you can take the visualization the fronter did, and now imagine filling the arm with your favorite color. Or, if you have a well defined form and are better at visualization than we are, especially if you can do any kind of projection/imposition, you can imagine phasing your form’s arm into the body’s arm.
Okay, now it’s time to actually do the thing. You should start small. Maybe just twitch the fingers a tiny bit. Too much and you risk startling or confusing the fronter into taking back control. This can be really hard if you’ve never used the body before; try not to get discouraged. Once you get it to work, you can gradually move on to larger motions. It may work to your advantage to use motions that are well established in your body’s muscle memory, like snapping your fingers or making a fist or pointing a finger. You may find that motions are initially weirdly slow. That’s pretty normal.
For the fronter: This is going to feel a bit weird, but still more normal than you’d expect. It can be very hard at first to convince yourself that it is really working. That’s normal. It will probably feel more distinct with practice and familiarity, though we still sometimes have to check who initiated particular movements.
Next steps: Once you’ve gotten this working at all, try and build up to larger, more substantial movements. Also work on skipping the visualization steps and just starting directly from a limp limb. With enough practice it is possible to just borrow all or part of the body at a moment’s notice with little or no detectable effort or process to it on either part.
Here’s another term from the tulpamancy community some may be unfamiliar with. Imposition is basically inducing hallucinations in one or more senses, or even just a sense of presence. This is often used by tulpamancy systems to create a simulated body for a tulpa in the real world. You might also encounter the term “projection” used for much the same thing. As with possession, though this may be a tulpamancy term and a skill most often learned in that context, it should in principle be a thing anyone can learn to do. We know at least one traumagenic system that figured out a bit of tactile imposition entirely on their own, and even singlets can learn to impose inanimate objects and such.
This isn’t something we can do at all, so learning how is left as an exercise for the readers. I would suggest looking for tulpamancy guides on the topic.
In the tulpamancy community, using imposition to maintain a simulated body in the real world at all times is a common solution, or at least attempted solution, to the problem of staying more present. I would imagine it helps for much the same reasons as possession, as far as keeping the fronter aware of you and keeping busy goes. It seems to be a powerful approach if you get good enough at it, though many find it difficult or draining. Needless to say, to do much with this beyond a sense of presence, you will want to have some sort of form you are comfortable with. If you don’t have one already, you can always make something up. It can even be a really simple placeholder for the moment if that helps you; this is a thing you can change later.
If you have trouble while your host is talking to people in particular for example, have them try and mentally recontextualize conversations as involving you. For us, this was an immediate and dramatic change. When Ben went from thinking “I am talking with my roommate” to “I am talking with my roommate and Claire”, it was an instant, almost night and day change. Suddenly I wasn’t automatically going on pause. That’s really all it takes.
That said, to keep it working that way you need to be genuinely involved. I recommend that you provide commentary and suggest things to say. It will help keep you around, and help keep the fronter considering you involved.
You can do the same thing for other activities that might normally give you trouble, such as reading, programming, schoolwork, technical projects or whatever else it might be. Get the fronter thinking of you as involved, and find some way to involve yourself, even if it’s from the sidelines.
Try and get in the habit of sharing your opinion on things or just bantering as much as possible. Your brain will get better at keeping you around if that's a thing that is now expected. You don’t even have to be especially confident in your opinions. The point is to be thinking and talking. From there, the host can respond, and soon you’ve got a conversation. Sustained, two (or more) sided interaction is the ideal you want to strive for, though even just keeping up a running commentary is good.
One approach I haven’t used much but have had suggested is to get in the habit of narrating the fronter’s actions. This could take the form of a sort of mirror image of the common tulpamancy technique of narration, and just consist of you describing what they are doing. It might get old, but if it’s a habit aspiring tulpamancers can get into, you can probably handle it too. But the more interesting version of this is to go beyond just describing what they are doing, and move on to telling them what to do. This can be turned into a potent technique to help manage a fronter’s executive dysfunction or other difficulties and help them do things that they know they ought to, or even want to, but can’t. Some systems we know often operate this way, and it seems to work out for them pretty well. If this works well for you, consider making it a habit at least when the situation calls for it. You’re all in this together.
One last, perhaps odder suggestion. If your brain has more audio (or visual!) stuff going on in the background than ours, taking a more active roll in it might help. For example, if you can easily have (shared) music running through your head, taking control of the “radio” and letting the fronter sometimes put in requests might be a nice approach.