The Role of the Unconscious (Day 24: The July “I Believe…” Challenge)

by Dani Fake Webb on July 24, 2010

Today’s Category: Role of the Unconscious

(If you’re new to this challenge, take a look at the intro video explaining the concept.
You can get more details on how to participate.
And click here for the daily categories.)

Making the Unconscious Conscious

unconsciousThe presence and role of the unconscious has been a fascinating topic to me since my first high school psychology class. It is captivating to me to think that something we are so unaware of can have such a profound impact on our behaviors!

  • I believe the unconscious is absolutely and completely real.
  • I believe the role of the unconscious is to hold emotion, pain and ways of being that are too painful for our conscious selves to bear or too threatening to our existence in society as we know it.
  • And, I believe that in order to fully live the lives we are meant to live, it is imperative to make the unconscious conscious.

I smile at the incredible paradox as I write that last sentence. I mean, how can you make the unconscious conscious? It is, by its very definition, unconscious!

Seven tips on how to live into the paradox

Following are tools to help you befriend your unconscious and listen to the gems of wisdom it has for you and your life.

1. Be Here Now: Practice Presence

thought0922Most of us, when we go through our days, tend to live in the future or in the past. We are thinking about what might happen, or what we need to do, or replaying that conversation from last week. Our minds are frequently occupied with anything but the present moment.

But the present moment can be a pathway to messages your unconscious is sending. Try this: Set an alarm at various intervals throughout the day. When it goes off, stop whatever you are doing and get in the present moment. Where are you? What is going on? What thoughts are you having? What are you feeling? Pay attention to your body. What do you notice?

(As I finished that paragraph, I got present. I am on an airplane as I write, and I became aware that I have a low-level anxiety occurring right now. I interpret this to be a message from my unconscious to relax. I am aware that I am in need of some self-care in my life right now, and by being present, I am keenly aware of this need in this moment. Cool.)

2. Play the Game of Free Association

You know this game. The one where someone says something and you say the very first thing that comes to your mind. Try it now….I’m going to type a word. When you read it, say the very first thing you think of. Ready?
“Wine.”
What did you think? It may or may not give you some insight to your unconscious and its messages. You don’t need to read too much into it. I believe your conscious mind will know when the free association hits home and has a message for you. Let’s try it again.
“Dogs.” (Isn’t this fun?)

3. Tune into Your Day Dreams

WOMAN-DAYDREAMINGDo you ever allow yourself to daydream? When you do, start paying attention to the themes. When you have total freedom to dream, what do you notice?

My daydreams always have an element of having my student loans paid off. No matter what the topic of my daydream, the student loan freedom is almost always there! What a gift from my unconscious! That realization has caused me to move those loans to the top of my financial priority list!

4. Listen to Your Night Dreams

I am by no means a dream analyst. However, I do allow my night dreams to speak to me. For example, I have a recurring dream about a tidal wave threatening to overtake my beachfront condo. It takes many different forms in terms of location, people present, and level of threat, but the theme is always the same – I must save myself before total annihilation. 😉

I interpret this dream to be about security. Many areas of my life have been hit with insecurity: childhood situations; job situations; relationships; finances. Whenever I have this dream, I am able to pay attention to where in my life I feel insecure. It is a gift.

Whether I am right in my interpretation or not is beside the point. The idea is that I believe dreams take place to tell us something. They are vehicles for our unconscious to deliver priceless messages to us.

5. Examine Your Habits and Routines

Do you always sit in the same area of the movie theater? Do you have to begin every run at the exact same telephone pole? Do you have to have your nightly chocolate bite even if you don’t really want it?

Habits and routines can give us clues to our unconscious process. Of course, there may be 47 other reasons why we have the habits and routines that we do. But, if you pay attention, you may find that some of the motivation behind those habits are indeed messages from your unconscious.

Example: I have a habit of glancing ahead a page or two when a stressful situation comes up in a book I am reading. If I examine why I do this, I think it is because I want to know that everything is OK. The child is safe, the car avoided the train, the sexy man did finally kiss the heroin. This may mean that the unknown is unacceptable to me. I can control that in books, but not so much in real life. So, what a great message from my unconscious for me to have. In a world where much is unknown, awareness of my low level of tolerance can, paradoxically, help me tolerate it!

6. Take a Good Look at Your Feelings Toward Others

jealousDo certain people just irk you? Are you envious of others? Does the behavior of the guy at the next table make you angry?

Oh, these feelings are gems of information from your unconscious!! Part of human psychology is that people we judge, hate, gossip about or dismiss are mirrors of things about ourselves that we do not like. It is the unconscious mind that sends the message to our conscious minds to judge, hate, gossip about or dismiss. And it’s not because our unconscious minds want to do those things. Rather, our unconscious is sending a message to the conscious mind that we have those very traits we hate. It is an opportunity to address ourselves so that we may better love others.

Same is true when we feel envious or jealous of another. There is something about that other person that, at our core, we desire for ourselves. What a beautiful message that we can use to help guide our lives.

7. Explore Any Anxiety and/or Depression

Making the unconscious conscious is about getting to know ourselves better. While depression and anxiety may be conditions that you need to have treated, I believe that the presence of either can be a way our unconscious is trying to communicate with us.

I know that in my own life, when I feel depression creeping in or have a particularly anxious day, I try to stop and really listen to what is going on inside of me (see #1 above). And, almost every time I discover something that I have been ignoring – something my unconscious is trying to tell me.

beauty+of+nature+011To wrap it up, I believe that life is a journey of hearing from your Authentic Self about the life you were created to live.  Your unconscious, as your protector, holds beautiful nuggets of wisdom about that life.

What do you believe about the role of the unconscious?

Until next time, may you love your life today.

Dani-Signature

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Dani Fake Webb is a coach, retreat facilitator, speaker, and writer. She is also the founder of Destination: Life!, a company dedicated to helping people discover their passion, live their purpose, and love their life.  If you want to learn more about living a fulfilled, purposeful life, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to the Destination: Life! E-Zine. Just click here: http://danifakewebb.com/newsletter. Or, contact Dani directly at info@danifakewebb.com.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen Stoune July 26, 2010 at 1:50 am

Brilliant!

Renae C. July 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Love it Dani. I’m behind, but I’m going to stay behind because all of the topics left deserve a full post of their own….

So – here’s my contribution to the Role of the Unconscious
http://theramblingpoet.blogspot.com/2010/07/july-i-believe-challenge-day-24-role-of.html

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