When you deal with some persistent problem – anything from a bad habit to a chronic neurosis – it’s easy to think about what you want.
You want the problem gone.
You want to be free of this, to be better.
But do you ever stop and ask what the problem wants?
Western psychology’s current take on things is, short of physical damage to the brain, our minds don’t break. They adapt. If you’re a neurotic mess, it’s because the neuroses protect you from something you’re not ready to deal with yet.
The pushy, assertive, arrogant jerk? Someone made them feel small once, and they’re still overcompensating for it.
The timid, nervous ball of anxiety? They were once punished for standing up for themselves and learned it’s better not to.
It’s a rather Jungian idea – your problems aren’t defects or flaws. They’re survival strategies, only they’re misapplied.
You might not agree with this philosophy.
Heck, maybe it isn’t true.
But the more I learn about the body and mind, the more I see strength and adaptability, not weakness.
There are contexts where your problem is exactly what you need in order to survive or even thrive.
Being anxious makes sense if the future is uncertain and dangerous. You’d want to spend time fretting on all the ways the world could kill you.
In modern times, that’s less relevant for most of us.
But how does your unconscious mind know? It’s only going off what you and everyone else taught it. If you fixate on the ways things can go wrong, your unconscious assumes that’s the state of things.
Or if you feel the need to get one over everyone, it’s because your unconscious learned that’s what it takes to survive.
Good intentions, bad outcomes.
But the great thing about your unconscious is it’s great at unlearning too.
You can reorient and educate your mind for a healthier, happier, more productive way of thinking about things.
Maybe you can completely dismantle your neurosis.
Maybe a trace of it will linger.
Either way, you can become much better off about it all.
That’s what hypnosis, meditation and other forms of mind training are all about: engaging with your unconscious in new ways, showing it what you want and letting it take care of the rest.
Many folk meditate. Most of them haven’t experienced this sort of release.
That’s because they haven’t done it like this: