THAT PESKY UNCONSCIOUS –
it’s been running my life & I didn’t even know it!
PREVIOUS: INFO & the BRAIN (Part 4)
Changing our thinking patterns is a continuous, sometimes frustrating process. The more we understand how our brain & the process of change works, & what to expect, the more hope & patience we can have!
Thoughts, in general, are latent but measurable forms of electromagnetic energy – an important natural activity WE produce! Changes in thoughts change our biochemistry, hormones & brainwave patterns which vibrate at different rates of oscillation, spreading out from the body like pond ripples. The speed & distance they travel depends on the frequency that generated them, so the way we think definitely has an effect on our environment
• Negative Thinking (CDs) assumes only difficulties and failure in life. It make us feel bad & decrease brain function, creating the same physical responses (rapid heart beat, rise in blood pressure, hand tremors & flushing of the face, cold sweats, stomach knots, shallow breathing, light-headedness & muscle weakness….) as any actual experience which would trigger anger or fear in us
Thoughts are stored:
i. EITHER by mechanical repetition (like hours of reciting multiplication tables, practicing musical scales, rote prayers….)
ii. OR by pairing a thought or experience with an intense emotion.
✓ Think of your very earliest memory. Whether it was a pleasant event or not, it was likely anchored in your mind by a strong feeling!
✓ We also know that if the emotions connected to an event are too intense (painful), the whole thing will be repressed, especially if the distress is long-term or particularly traumatic – like throughout most of our childhood, or an abusive marriage, a long illness….
• Any thought that is often repeated become so automatic that we don’t even notice it & then it becomes unconscious – ie. out of awareness. That part of the mind is like Google. It’s a record of our life which includes emotions & events of all our experiences: losses, disappointments, habits, traumas, successes, delights, joys, pleasures…. & a collection of ‘beliefs and perceptions’. It’s all there.
EXP: For most of your youth you were neglected at home & bullied at school, with no one to protect or defend you. Now, every time you contemplate going to any kind of group – no matter how innocuous, like in a religious setting – you have palpitations. You think it’s only because you’re shy, rather than from subconscious CDs like Over-generalizing, Disqualifying the Positive, Unrealistic Comparisons, Projection…. formed by early experiences
• The CONSCIOUS mind is abstract, creative & aware, is about such things as reading & thinking about what is heard, seen or written, what is intelligent & purposeful (having choice). It doesn’t know what’s in the unconscious & doesn’t want to even acknowledge it’s existence because it’s so ‘simple & concrete’. In spite of that ‘prejudice’, our conscious part only has about 15% control over the making of experiences, while the subconscious is in charge of the other 85%, as the result of conditioning!
• The UNCONSCIOUS mind is ‘just’ the result of patterning, conditioning, and habit – therefore it’s basic, very black & white, not thinking, intelligent or creative, totally literal & has no sense of humor! From birth it absorbs info & experience without discernment. So our formative years provide the basis for all other learning, as the mind filters out inconsistencies.
BTW – ‘Unconscious’ describes a general state where information we’ve gathered is not available to us just by wanting to reach for it, & can only be retrieved by special techniques or triggering events.
‘Subconscious’ is used to identify unconscious thoughts or experiences when they drive our reactions & behavior, without realizing it, like: seeing food suddenly makes us hungry, or a deep-seated – untreated & hidden – childhood trauma will distort our ability to make safe, rational decisions
• According to the Cognitive Therapy model, distortions in information processing will result in anxiety symptoms such as: hyper-vigilance, false alarms, loss of objectivity, catastrophizing, excessive focus on negative outcomes, no tolerance for uncertainty and ‘lack of habituation’ (not desensitized to a stressor even with repeated exposure).
• This is something ACoAs are very familiar with, who grew up in emotionally tense & physically dangerous environments, both at home & out side. Unfortunately we were not ably to successfully use fight or flight, except indirectly.
— The fight reaction would have been with siblings, neighborhood kids, school peers, hurting animals or possessions, & sometimes self-harm
— The flight side was a more common option for most of us. As long as we were too small to leave home we escaped into books, friends, school work, sports & of course into fantasy. And for some – attempted suicide.
NEXT: CDs & the UNCONSCIOUS (Part 2)