There was a time when it took a lot for someone to process their emotions…
Personal tragedy, death, family, or economic crisis – it had to be big to be spoken.
But not today. Now, everybody is overwhelmed and nobody is afraid to talk about it. Yay!
Yes, historically speaking, we are more sophisticated than ever emotionally; we are highly aware of what we feel, and we can talk about it. So…why do we still get crazy?
Because: we’re still doing the same-old, same-old — trying to be better, and get more inspired to change.
It is just so deeply American to work more and try harder. We put all our faith in progress and hard work.
Unfortunately…strong and deep emotions don’t get resolved by trying harder or getting more inspired to be “better.”
Start Feeling Better in Five Steps By Unlocking Your Unconscious:
No matter how much we want to get better — be calmer, more organized, get a grip, increase our patience and love, and become more at peace — all of these great intentions can fly right out the window in the face of strong emotions.
Instead, we have to find the key that keeps us incarcerated in self-doubt and undue suffering. And that means unlocking our unconscious mind.
When it comes to dealing with deep inner emotions, you have to dig below the surface. this is because our habits of the mind always serve an unconscious purpose. There’s always a very good unconscious reason for why we can’t let go of even the most seemingly painful emotions.
Until you know that reason, things will stay the same.
How do you start to unlock your unconscious mind? Fortunately for you, psychoanalysts have been formally figuring out how to access the unconscious, since Freud started writing about it over a century ago. Here’s where to start.
Step 1: Create Wonder About Yourself.
You don’t have to get stranded in a no-man’s land of navel-gazing, replete with endless complaining that alienates everyone around you, to look inward and start challenging and investigating your patterns of feeling and thought.
Nor do you have to get trapped ruminating, over and over, on how bad you feel or how hard and tough life is. This only leads you down a dismal, depressing dead-end road.
Creating wonder about yourself means trusting that there’s something about yourself that you don’t know yet. You may believe the reason you don’t exercise is that you’re too tired or lazy, or that you’re not good enough at something because of personal shortcomings, or that your fatigue is hopeless. But chances are, there’s some other reason why you do not have the energy for change.
Step 2: Be Wonder-ful.
Don’t just take a quick peek inside yourself, freak out, and leave. You have to hang out with your own thoughts for a while, in search of something you don’t yet know about yourself.
And there’s a lot you don’t yet know about yourself, by the way. Harvard researchers are calling the unknown parts of your brain the “adaptive unconscious.” Simply put, there is just no way that you can know everything that’s going on in your own mind at any one time. If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered why you can’t change, that’s why: you don’t know your whole story yet.
Step 3: Find Someone to Trust.
Someone to trust has to be a good sounding board. This means someone who is less likely to give you advice (who needs more advice) but rather who keeps you moving forward, looking for the thoughts, ideas and feelings inside yourself that you don’t know yet.
Some people find that they can use a yoga mat, open valley or solitary journey to open up to themselves in a new way. But better yet, find a real live person to talk to; someone who isn’t going to try to move you to a better place. Someone who won’t judge you, who can tolerate everything you feel, and who can ask you questions. Someone to hear you.
Use your heart to guide whether you feel that trust; that softening and opening.
Step 4: Fasten Your Seat Belt!
Thoughts and feelings are hidden from our conscious day-to-day life for a reason. We push things out of consciousness because they don’t feel good. Either we don’t like some of our thoughts, or they simply freak us out.
I treated a woman who became more and more adequate, and at every turn, had to confront fears of losing her family. They were all tied together in an invisible net of inadequate feelings. Breaking free, and becoming less inadequate, took courage.
Another patient realized that his desire to become a more effective leader came from a desire to hurt people, out of revenge. (He had been hurt as a child.) Once he knew it, he could decide how to use his aggression.
Our hidden quirky, irrational, negative, and strange stories can really keep us from moving forward. It takes strength to know things about ourselves that are so strange.
Warning: Do NOT Bring Your Family Into This.
As much as your partner, your parents and your best friend (who is like family) love you and want the best for you, they are probably the worst people to listen to your emotions.
Because your pain is their pain.
It’s much easier for someone to hear you who can be a little impartial. A clergyperson, a new best friend, or a therapist who knows how to ask really good questions. For this type of work, don’t rely on life coaches, behavioral therapists or insight-oriented therapists who will try to move you to a new place and/or otherwise try to create change in you. Remember: you want to get to know yourself, not force more change. This is not about more solving. It’s about evolving.
Step 5: Expect to Be Moved.
Inward journeys, where we connect to unseen parts of ourselves and seek to be heard rather than improved, are deeply rich and unforgettable. Those emotional “aha” moments, when we finally land on what has been holding us back from changing a small habit or realizing a large dream, change us naturally and eternally.
And here’s the best part: now you have a way to finally use all the most negative, painful ideas and emotions you’ve been having – even the ones you think have been holding you back the most; even the ones you like the least. Instead of pushing them away, start talking — they are your starting point. Have you taken the “quiz” to find your “wobble?” This is a great starting point to stoke your wonder.
The point where you can finally take all that sophisticated awareness of what you feel, and all that ability to talk about it, and now push yourself to ask one little question: “Why?” That three-letter word can get you started on the road to unlocking your unconscious.