“As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.” ~Joseph Murphy
These abilities are subconsciously and frequently active as we move through the world, and they regularly affect our perspective, our beliefs, our behaviors. Yet, we are rarely consciously aware of the influence they exert over our perception, instead attributing our ideas to external or superficial factors. So how does one go beyond the surface of experiencing to access the subconscious information?
Depth work is the term applied to investigations of the subconscious in therapy, and it is hard to access this part of the mind. This is because our conscious mind is so busy and noisy, it has to be overridden so to speak, challenged and bypassed to reach subconscious processes. To begin, ask different questions, challenging different aspects of your thoughts, and probing for the sources of feeling (memory, expectations, beliefs, values, personality, family of origin, etc),
As you probe, you may observe patterns that reflect deep set negative ideas about yourself and the world, these are called themes. Themes often began as cognitive distortions of the conscious mind that persistently occured around particular feelings, then rooted in the subconscious creating negative beliefs.
Thematic thoughts sound a particular way in our head due to their roots, and often hold global identity statements. So listen to your negative thoughts, write them down so you can look at them over time. Highlight some of your heavier reoccurring thoughts, and start mapping out how much of your subconscious they occupy.
"I am too much"
"Failure is not an option"
“You can’t trust anyone”
“I ruin everything”
“Nobody likes me.”
"It's all on me"
"Love always hurts”
“I don’t belong”
“Everyone is against me” …
EXERCISE: What are some of your recurrent thought patterns? Where do they come from for you? How long have they been around?
THEME MAPPING EXERCISE
Using the analogy of map analogy can be helpful to conceptualize areas of your subconscious that you visit frequently. Note the size of the ‘territory’ a theme might be taking up in your mind. Track the triggering emotions and situations that take you into that territory, and the soothing activities that bring you out of the theme.
In addition, it can be helpful to know how close the themes are to each other; do you start with Theme A and move to Theme B? How long do you generally spend in each? How alone do you feel in the theme, is it an Island?
Also explore what 'cities' a theme has in it, these are other feelings that take me straight to the theme (like "rejected" might be a city in the theme of “nobody likes me”). Sometimes you may identify ‘landmarks’ in the cities, memories or ideas related to the city (like High School Reunion or Swimming).
The job of your conscious mind is always to run a rescue mission when we have gone to the theme against our will. Document anything that works (self care, boundaries, mantras, grounding exercises, somatic experiencing, thought restructuring, etc) for reducing the impact of the theme.
Then use these tools regularly to shrink the territory your themes take up in your subconscious mind (can’t erase them but can make them smaller and easier to navigate). For long term healing of the theme, consider a mantra tailored to your specific theme, or try this one as a place to start
I am safe in my own mind and understand I am not always reasonable or present, but I know how to help myself.