Saturday, September 29, 2012


I'm replaying the following entry, because I find myself marveling more and more at how much of life, relationships, and our own selves is obscured behind the gauzy curtain of the unconscious.

Most people are instinctually repelled by that realm, but even a dab of sustained curiosity will yield interesting and useful insights about what's going on in one's peripheries (for example, this). And I never fully, viscerally, understood what the unconscious was until I observed the boo-boo effect described below. If you'll think about it, you'll recognize that the same effect applies in many things besides bodily cuts and scrapes.

Most people don't have a visceral sense of what "unconscious" means. They understand the word only as an abstract concept. Here's one way to look at it.

Have you ever discovered that you're injured, but hadn't realized it until, at some point, you looked down at your ankle or wrist or shoulder and noticed that it was bleeding, or black and blue? And then you were able to recall having been dimly aware of the injury at some level for a had been bugging you, but you'd been too busy or distracted with other things to consciously notice, until it broke through to conscious awareness?

It was real, not supernatural. You were definitely perceiving it. And it had been, at some level, bothering you. But you didn't quite "know" about it or "think" about it or identify it in the shiny front of your mind where the thinking and labeling happens. That is what "unconscious" is.

What's more, our minds are like icebergs, with the vast majority submerged. So most stress comes from down there, as well. Watch carefully when stress "breaks through" to conscious awareness, because there are clues about its roots - much as an injury coming to conscious awareness can, with effort, be mentally traced back to determine where it was incurred.

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