In order to heal your emotional wounds, you first have to delve into the abyss which is your unconscious, stay awhile and then come back up for air.
A Visit to the Unconscious of the Psyche
The unconscious is called such because it is below the “surface” of your awareness. It’s why people say things like, “You need to tap into …” and, “Your wound is felt at a deep level,” etc. It has much more depth than your conscious awareness and much more influence on your behavior as well. Unfortunately, we don’t really notice most of the time.
What this means is that for much of our day we are being affected by beliefs, thoughts and views of the world which may or may not be accurate. Many of these are picked up in early childhood which almost guarantee that they are wrong or at least skewed in some manner.
Most of our wounds and origins of our current suffering as adults can be found in the depths of our being, and so the only way to correct them is to first DIVE DOWN.
In the story of Pinocchio, the puppet at one point finds himself diving into the ocean after straying from his proper path in life and fleeing danger. He was down there looking for his father who represented the good he had forgotten, or the information he needed to know in order to “grow” up. He goes down into the belly of the whale and frees his father, but washes ashore devastated, looking almost like he was dead.
Going deep is painful and opens up vulnerabilities that can shake you to the core of your being. That’s why many therapists will say that things will, “get worse before they get better.” But, going deep also holds the answer to transformation and a much better, more meaningful life, and, to be blunt, what choice do we have?
Your Inner Child Lives There
The unconscious is where your inner child lives, alone in the dark and waiting to be freed from her loneliness and isolation. She/he has lots of valuable information to give you and needs to do so, and have you pay heed, so that she can rest and allow you to do the same.
Visiting her daily, listening and being as attentive as you can will help bring old hurts and beliefs to the surface where you can deal with it, or restructure it.
Resistance – We have a lot of resistance towards going within in this way. There’s a reason why it is shoved down so far deep that we are not cognizant of it. The feelings and experiences down there are painful and perhaps too much for us to handle. Being overwhelmed is NOT a state that humans enjoy and we will do anything it takes to stay as far away from it as possible.
We create these “walls of resistance” at a very young age and then strengthen them over time, until we feel we are able to function normally, or at least acceptably so, so that our lives can go on and we can move ahead.
Sometimes these walls can hold for a lifetime and people go on living with minimal interruption. More often though, they weaken and fall to some degree and that’s when we see problems arise like depression or anxiety or coping behaviors getting out of hand. At that point we can either suffer slowly for the next several decades or take the bull by the horns and do something about it now, even if it’s anxiety inducing.
It’s HARD – The other obstacle to diving deep is that it is hard work. You’re essentially looking to solve a complex mystery with very little to go on and no idea what the puzzle is supposed to look like. After doing this awhile, you get frustrated and are not sure if the work you’re doing is moving you forward or is just a waste of time.
In my experience it’s never a waste of time if done properly, even if yo don’t get any insights that day. The unconscious is always at work and when you DIG, you get closer to the answers you seek, even if you can’t feel it.
Digging – How to go Deep
The best and most effective way to do this is to set aside some time to be alone and undisturbed. You’ll need to close your eyes, quite your mind and focus … HARD. You want to see what’s going on and to do that you’ll need a place to start.
Start – Have the intention of looking for answers in the general direction of your current issues that you are trying to heal or overcome. Start out by focusing on whatever is in your mind, that’s related to your issues.
If it’s a past memory, become curious and try to see it with more clarity than before. Evaluate it rigorously, pull it apart and see how you may have experienced it then, and compare that to how you would experience it now.
If it’s an altercation you recently had or a reaction you didn’t like then start there. Again become curious and feel exactly what you felt and then NAME IT. Ask yourself, “Where have I been here before?” and what does this remind me of in my past. Then see where it goes and follow it.
The hard part here is MAINTAINING FOCUS because it’s not always apparent or easy to go from one thought to the next and create associations and connections, without losing touch with your unconscious. You come back up easily and have to force your way back down again. It can sometimes feel like SQUEEZING WATER FROM A ROCK, but that is what gets results and is what does pay off.
The key is to ask yourself lots of questions, ask the characters in your mind lots of questions and maintain your focus like the guy in the picture above. He’s not having a relaxing meditation session, he’s working hard and burning lots of energy (circulating blood sugar for the brain) as well over a long period of time. An hour is usually recommended because it can take between 5-20 minutes just to get down there and then you’ll need time to explore and process.
Once you’re done it’s best to write out in a few sentences what you uncovered and start there the very next time you GO DEEP again. For fastest results doing this daily is best, but as often as you can is recommended.
Oh, and as scary as that world down there is, it’s also mysterious, captivating and fascinating.
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