Last week I wrote about the five key areas you need to do personal work in when you’re stuck in a frustrating life pattern – and are serious about getting out.
To recap, the 5 Key Areas are:
- Your conscious mind
- Your nervous system and unconscious
- The collective field of your immediate family and ancestry
- Possible past lives
- Your physical reality and level of practical skills
If you’ve been doing tons of personal work over the years, but aren’t seeing the progress you want, then consider investing some time, resources and attention to a different area.
As I promised, I’m going to dive a bit deeper on each of the five areas this week and next.
Today, let’s talk about the first two…
1) THE CONSCIOUS MIND ~
Our conscious mind consists of everything in our awareness. It encompasses what we can remember, reflect upon, talk about, and so on.
If the challenges we’re having in our lives are rooted in our conscious mind, then we can work through those issues by talking things out with a therapist or trusted friend, writing in our journal, doing Byron Katie’s The Work inquiry process, and so on.
However, if our problem originates in a deeper realm of our being, we won’t be able to access the root cause simply by talking or writing about our issue.
No amount of mental processing will help us move forward, so we’ll need to look elsewhere.
2.) YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM AND UNCONSCIOUS MIND ~
Let’s think of these deep realms as “everything under the surface of our awareness.”
The space is vast, with infinite beauty and wisdom. And in many ways, what is happening with us on these levels involves the most authentic, unedited parts of ourselves.
These realms are also incredibly powerful.
We cannot rationalize or positive-think our way to feeling better or having a different experience when our unconscious and/or nervous system is activated.
What does it look like when these are activated? Here are some examples:
A colleague says something kind of jerky to you. You know he’s got issues and that his comment has nothing to do with you. You tell yourself to let it go, but you can’t! Instead, you stew on the comment and find yourself repeatedly in mental arguments with him all day long.
Someone tells you they love you, and you can’t take it in. Rationally, you know this person wouldn’t say that unless he meant it – but it’s almost like you don’t have the receptors for it. No matter how much you tell yourself this person loves you, you just can’t feel it.
You’re about to finally sign papers on your new home. At the last moment, the deal falls through! It seems like this kind of thing happens every time you get excited about something you’re trying to create for yourself. You don’t want to be in a victim mindset, and you’re trying to tell yourself the house must have just not been for you. But deep down, you’re super bummed and feel a familiar disappointment and darkness set in, like the world just doesn’t have good things for you.
These are examples of what it’s like when a challenge is rooted in our nervous system or unconscious mind.
We may try to rationalize our way into reacting with a cooler head, or into seeing events in a positive light, or into feeling a particular way, but we really can’t change the intensity of feelings that we’re having.
In situations like these, here is what is often going on:
Deep under the surface, and many times out of our everyday awareness, there are programs running that are a direct result of experiences we had in the past.
This is happening for all of us all the time.
When those experiences were stressful, and we weren’t able to respond in a way that felt natural, and we didn’t have a loving, present adult to help us process what happened, the stress and intensity of those events got trapped in our nervous system. And likely, our unconscious mind developed certain rules about the who we are and what we need to know about the world around us.
These stresses and unconscious rules are still there today.
That’s because our nervous system and unconscious are always living in the present moment. So whatever happened back then, is still very much a vibrant reality to these deeper parts of ourselves.
Even though it’s true that we may be safe, or respected, or loved NOW – a deep part of us may be meeting these experiences from very different reality.
Working with the Unconscious and Nervous System
In order to access these deep parts and bring the beliefs and feelings to light so that things can shift, we work with this realm very differently than the kind of talking things out we do with the conscious mind.
Instead, we do a lot of listening. We need to create a container of safety, non-judgment, curiosity, total presence and loving kindness.
From that place, our unconscious and nervous system will share what’s alive in the deep parts of our being, and we can help these parts get what they need to let go of stress and move into a happier present reality.
The best tools to use to do this, in my experience are Hakomi Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Raphael Cushnir’s Emotional Connection work, or sometimes Emotional Freedom Technique if the practitioner is really skilled.
The two most important parts of the equation here are 1) Finding which process works for you, and 2) Having really high standards about the practitioner you work with. They must be emotionally safe, intuitive and really skilled in the method they use.
I hope this has been helpful for you! In a separate post, I’ll be diving more deeply into the 3rd, 4th and 5th keys that can set you free.
Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts or questions! I answer every note personally.
If you’d prefer to see me describe this on video, you can see that here.