I have struggled for a long time to make any sort of system map. Decades really. I have long known that this inability has clearly been all about resistance. And the resistance was mostly that I believed once I made a map, I was locking all of me into a certain way of viewing myself. I thought it meant it would play too much into a "dissociative" way of looking at the world, when what I really want is to move away from that view.
One important lesson I have learned is that to heal and move forward, you have to accept where you are in the present.
Over the past few years, with that acceptance mostly in hand, I have focused on more visual ways of checking in with myself. I started with these maps two months ago. I have now made 15 maps, and my goal is to make them more regularly. Each really only takes a few minutes. I use a simple diagram program called Diagrammix on Mac OS, but there are many out there. To make a new map, I either start with the previous one (if I feel connected to that last state) or I start with a template (if I do not).
I change links and arrows, widths of circles or squares, shapes, colors, size and more. It ends up feeling a lot like a virtual sandbox. I have found that what comes out is usually not at all what I would be able to describe if I had to use words. So, in that sense, they are quite helpful. I do not really have to think all that much and I do not really worry about how "accurate" the map is. The intent is to do as good a check-in as possible. It is sort of akin to taking a temperature reading. It is but one measure, albeit and important one, of where my head is at.
I also save all the images to a folder, and can flip through them as a slideshow. This sequence of images gives me a sense of change over time. Again, quite helpful.
My private system maps do have labels in the circles and squares (I removed them for this post). I have talked before about labels and names, see Naming Parts of Our Dissociated Selves. For me, I have found that the names and labels help me identify and make sense of what is going on. It provides a framework for me to think about myself, and thus, is an important component of healing, changing, or growing. I am, however, careful with names and labels and have established a "safe setting" rule where they are used. That means they remain private.
The maps show me how drastic the changes can be over time. Sometimes I have made a series of maps just over a few hours and even that can show dramatic shifts. The point of seeing that, for me, is mostly about gaining visual markers. What often happens for me is that hours or days run into other hours or days, and I can easily lose track of continuity of experience.
There are many skills one can use to help. I have written about many before, and this is just one more skill to add to the "toolbox."