The other day I worked with a client who hadn’t driven on the highway for 30+ years.
One day, decades ago, required a long drive to a stressful situation, while she was carrying very precious cargo (her newborn baby). She knew that her fear of the highway was all bound up in the stress of that visit. What she didn’t know was how to take her ease and effortless driving style on local streets and backroads and convince herself that a freeway was no different. But the upshot – and the reason she needed help – was that this strategy kept her in the passenger seat. Literally and figuratively. So, you might ask, who was driving? Her subconscious!
We are of “two minds” – a conscious and a subconscious. You can think of your mind like a computer. The screen – what we can see – is the conscious mind. It’s there that we see displayed everything we could fit on that screen, the things we can navigate around and click on and create amazing things. The subconscious is everything that it takes to light those liquid crystals inside your screen. Our minds are such finely tuned machines that direct our attention, and there is an enormous amount that we don’t know we know. For the most part, we don’t need to. Normally, we don’t need to think about how to drive down the highway. We just do it, and trust that whatever situation comes up, we’ll be able to negotiate as best we can.
It’s the conscious mind’s job to make decisions and plans based on information the subconscious feeds it. It also rationalizes how we feel, from the subconscious’ reservoir of what we feel. So that drive down the highway that led to danger, and to my client’s decision to never go there again? The decision to protect herself from a harmful situation with her family got all mixed in with the inherent speed and intensity of city highway driving.
Think of ways this kind of thing gets in between you and manifesting your goals. Not so easy to see it on the surface, is it? It can take some digging. But there is a way through.
Aside from our coping mechanisms, the subconscious also holds a wealth of creativity, information, intuition and insight. For the subconscious holds our emotions. We get to choose how to express them – that’s a conscious practice (and like any skill, it takes practice!) Feelings are what drive us, whether or not we know it. Exercises like hypnosis, or writing exercises that get you into the subconscious, can feel like lucid dreaming, where you find yourself in a situation in your imagination with lots of rich detail. This often leads to insight into challenges faced in waking life. Using such tools intentionally and therapeutically gives you access to the particular subconscious pattern from which blocks and issues arise. I like to think of it as aligning your subconscious and conscious mind towards the same goal, instead of going in opposite directions.
So… ask yourself: what things do I do that get in the way of doing what I want?