You are probably familiar with Freud’s concept of the unconscious mind, which comprises the id and the superego.
When the ego cannot influence the “trash” it cannot see or reach, maintaining a balance in between, psychological problems start springing up. Along with other contributions from the likes of Fromm, Jung, and Peck (among many others), this theory has earned a wider meaning.
Jung proposed that the subconscious does not just comprise the self-revolting urges—there is also a collective consciousness.
Fromm and Peck, on the other hand, showed through many cases how human beings can actually determine what’s right for themselves through “intuition,” by receiving information from the unconscious mind. Peck took this a step further and said, “It is ego that produces sickness…When it tries to hinder the unconscious’ wisdom, conflict arises in the mind.”
Without being as strict as Freud or as positive as Peck, we could say there is a middle way. The subconscious has many resources within it, but it works in a way that is complicated for us to comprehend. Think of a room full of useful stuff, but there is also trash. There are ancient books conveying great wisdom (our genetic recollection), but there are also the popular prejudices of the day. But how is it that we are exposed mostly to the negative trash in the unconscious, hardly touching upon its wisdom, if at all?
Let’s try to explain this in the context of a counselor-counselee relationship. When a person goes to a counselor, he or she tests the flexibility of that person, with or without realizing it. If the counselor imposes his or her own personal opinions on the counselee, as if they were a universal truth, the counselee would likely quit before long. Such people in therapy would perhaps rather talk about the simple problems in their lives (e.g., I get upset when people say negative things about me) at first. As therapy moves forward, they start talking about their deeper problems in life (e.g., I realize that I actually hate my father, I am attracted to my friend’s wife, etc.). But if such people feel they have a judgmental counselor, they would never speak about such significant things. As a result, the problems are never solved, and the psychological problems grow with every passing day.
In our situation, every person is both the teller and the listener of his or her story. If the teller (the subconscious) feels that the listener (the conscious) is being strict, judgmental, and quick to condemn, it stops speaking. Just like a teenager, though, as the silence persists, the aggressive behavior increases.
So, the more flexible a person’s conscious is, the better placed it is to hear the subconscious. This way, people can reach their own inner world by raising the conversation.
Once the upsetting, painful thoughts and feelings are met with compassion and kindness, and therefore resolved, the subconscious begins to reveal its deeper wisdom.
If we believe a child is stupid because he or she is young, we cannot endure their childish behavior and observe the wisdom of childhood. Likewise, the key is not to cure the unconscious but rather ensure that the conscious is flexible. Once the conscious overcomes its judgmental structures of authority and comes to accept and embrace like nature, it begins to receive its share of the universe’s wisdom. But for as long as we torture ourselves with the things we feel and think, and be victims of them, the subconscious will not help us. It may even work against us.
We should understand that as human beings, we can harbor all manner of demeanors. Although there may be negative consequences to some of them, this doesn’t mean they’re evil, and there’s no need to throw stones at them. If we can first show our maturity, and if we can listen to our subconscious without judging it, there’s much that it can tell us. This communication can turn into a fair exchange, where two equals gather around a bonfire and exchanges stories of wisdom rather than arguing and brawling with each other.
Wishing you find compassion for yourself…