The following rules apply to every mind-map you do, regardless of whether it's simple, complicated, deep, practical, emotional, or whatever.
Rule 1: Get G-d involved
All your help, all your insights, are going to come down the pipe from God. Time and time again, God has given me flashes of inspiration via mind-mapping that have been the 'missing piece' of the puzzle. Even if you don't know what you're doing, or you just feel completely stuck in a situation, decision, or problem, get G-d involved and He'll open up all sorts of ideas and possibilities for you.
Rule 2: Be honest
This is more important when you're doing deeper stuff, but even for the most simple, practical mind-maps, be as honest as you can. For example, if you know you don't want to spend more than half an hour cleaning up every day, don't set goals or targets that would require 2 solid hours of cleaning a day. Doing a mind-map based on incorrect or faulty assumptions and information might sound good, but it won't help you to actually change your reality.
Rule 3: Don't censor yourself
This is often connected to Rule 2, but is coming from the opposite direction. If you find yourself phrasing anything with a 'should' when you're doing your mind-map, stop and challenge the assumption: is it SHOULD or is it WANT? I SHOULD change jobs, or I WANT to change jobs? SHOULD usually shows up when we're trying to people please, or put other people's ideas and preferences ahead of our own.
Rule 4: You can't do this wrong
There is no such thing as a 'wrong' mind-map. Even if it doesn't turn out the way you planned; even if you can't seem to write what you wanted, or make sense of what's going on, each and every single mind-map contains myriad clues about what's going on in that area of your life.
EG: if you can't even begin to write down what needs to be arranged and taken care of before you can start to get your new business idea off the ground, that by itself is showing you that you're completely overwhelmed by the whole idea. If that happens, take a step back, and instead of doing a 'Next Steps For My New Business' mind-map, maybe do a 'why is this overwhelming me so much?' mind-map instead.
(And then book a long weekend away and a massage…)
Rule 5: No two mind-maps are the same
Mind-maps, as the name suggests, are a map of your mind. We're all different, unique, individuals, which means that everyone's mind-map - even for the same subject - will look and be completely different. Don't compare your mind-map to anyone else's. Your particular style and flavour of mind-map is reflecting your beliefs and personality back at, in precisely the way you need, in order for you to do or learn something, or make the change that might be required.
Rule 6: Judge yourself favorably
If a mind-map is really doing its job, it's going to show you some very honest things about yourself. Not all of your mind-map insights are going to earn you 'feel good' brownie points, and some of them may even be pretty disconcerting and uncomfortable.
The evil inclination just loves making people feel bad because they aren't perfect. Whatever secret ikky thing you discover about yourself via doing your mind-map, on no account should you start beating yourself up about it. On the contrary!
When you attain this sort of clarity about yourself, it makes God really happy. Whatever issues, character flaws or nasty traits you discover, there's a very good reason why you have it, you just don't know what it is yet. But God does. He's judging every single thing you do favorably, and He wants you to do that, too, and to be kind to yourself, and to not beat yourself up under any circumstances.
Rule 7: Keep an open mind
To put it another way: don't shoot your arrow, and then paint the target around it. The whole mind-mapping process is about discovering what's really going on inside of you, and in your mind, at the deepest levels. Let the process unfold, and give yourself the space you need to learn some new things about yourself and your true outlook and perspective.
Rule 8: Translate your mind-map into real time
At the end of each mind-map, write down a clear list of action points, targets, goals and deadlines, to help move your clarity from 'theory' to 'practise'. (I'll give you some exercises to do in the next post, that will give you some concrete ideas for how to actually do this.)
Rule 9: Pray on it
If anything awkward, difficult, overwhelming, shocking, surprising or challenging reveals itself in your mind-map, don't panic - just pray on it. If you suddenly realise that you actually really hate your job, or that a close family member's behaviour is distressing you far more than you ever realised, don't have a heart-attack. Take a deep breath, make space for G-d, and ask Him to show you how to resolve the particular problem, difficulty or issue. Then just wait for the amazing idea, or insight, or solution to pop into your head, or your life.
Rule 10: Write spontaneously
Don't over-think your mind-map. If when you're doing a mind-map, you're finding it very hard going, or not coming at all, it's usually because you're blocking your own answers and truths in some way, or feeling blocked by something or someone else. If you write something down on your mind-map and then cross it out - challenge yourself. Why are you changing your mind? Who or what are you scared of, if you keep your first answer? Why do you think it's wrong?
Whenever you catch a 'conflict' in your mind-map - it's a big red sign that you just hit an area where you need to do some more digging, to see what's really going on. Ask G-d for clarity, and keep probing. You'll get some answers, and when you do, you'll see how your insights into yourself, your self-confidence, and your perceptions start to change and improve.
Tomorrow, you'll get to practise doing your first mind map.