Working with your unconscious

I'm working with my unconscious as I write this. I'm being given what to say and how to say it. To get into this frame of mind, I have to let go of knowing what to say and when I'll get inspired to say it. I let it come to me as if there is a right thing to write right now which is beyond my conscious comprehension.

Yesterday, I finished reading David Brook's new book: The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement. I absorbed this book slowly over the past two weeks, taking time to reflect on what I had  just read. I gave each chapter time to sink in, tie into my current models and transform into lenses for seeing familiar patterns in new ways. Reading with so much reflecting between chunks of text is another way I work with my unconscious. I let go of knowing how much to read before taking a time out. My unconscious would serve up a feeling of "let's do this" until it served up an another feeling of "no more" when it had enough for now. Sometime after each stoppage, I would get in the mood to reflect on what I had read and different passages would come to mind effortlessly.

David Brooks addresses this issue of working with your unconscious in The Social Animal. He follows two books I've explored here previously: Strangers To Ourselves/Timothy Wilson and Hare Brain Tortoise Mind/Guy Claxton. All three assert that 90% of of our conduct is unconscious. Our conscious mind cannot control our unconscious which is much larger and more powerful. Making a pretense of being rational, logical and self controlled creatures will be constantly betrayed by unconscious urges, compulsions and reactions. When we admit the limitations of our conscious reasoning, we can work with our unconscious and realize the benefits of the partnership. We can interrelate like a laptop connected to a server farm.

Carl Jung posited that the unconscious returns the face we show it. If we turn against it, it will turn against us. If we respect it and trust its guidance, it will respect us and show us the way through the mystery we're facing. We cannot control our unconscious. We can control how we consciously face it, treat it and frame it with our expectations. We're wary of being too smart for our own good, like a character "Raymond" that David Brooks portrayed in his chapter on The Insurgency. We will seek out the opposing viewpoint, remain humble about our own conclusions and trust the process of giving resolutions time to emerge from complex explorations. Rather than fixate on the thing we have to come up with urgently, we can perceive the big picture, immersive context and social fabric. That will gives us a much better perspective to work with the unconscious on coming up with that thing in its own way and timing.

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