Mind Benders — no. 1

Find A Loop-hole Into The Secrets Of the Unconscious Mind

Exercise no. 1

  • I. Write down everything that bothers you about someone you know.
  • Be petty! (These thoughts are for your eyes only).
  • What about this person upsets you?
  • How would you characterize this person?

  • How should s/he change?
    • Now — simply put your writing aside.

    What you are about to learn is two-fold.

    1. That we actually have no power over anyone else, period .

    2. The place we have power is in becoming our true selves.

    Notice that it was our own mind that chose the words we wrote down about another.

    If we reverse the spotlight now, we can open our awareness to the unconscious mind , thereby learning a great deal about ourselves.

    I want to caution you though — This “window” into the unconscious tends to cause an myriad of responses from the ego: “it’s not me…”,

    … But if you know anything about our “shadow figures“, you know that, once understood , they no longer act as monsters. We only need to meet them with understanding.

    So this exercise is, at first, a leap of faith. Yet, I promise you, after a few discoveries, we become friends with these mistaken monsters, and can actually learn to respect them in assisting your own personal growth.

    II. Find a time in your day when you can spend a moment with yourself. Get as relaxed, mentally, physically, and emotionally, as you can.

    • Read the paper you wrote about the person you are upset with.
    • Shift the pronouns. YOU becomes ME, and vice-versa.
    • Sit with this new idea. Can you find the truth in it?


    Me and The Old Hag Archetype

    When I was going through my divorce, with 6 year old twins, I sometimes felt such anger and even had visions of violence: like ripping up old love letters that I found while trying to box up His verses My personal stuff. These feelings, which felt overwhelming during each episode, were entirely foreign to me. I didn’t want to claim this “ugly, horrible” side of myself — if it even was myself…. (but seriously, who else could it be?)

    So I researched the Old Hag Archetype.
    “She is the figure in myth of the evil woman who is capable of stealing peace from the innocent. In each historical portrayal, she is uniquely terrifying and at the same time, remains a universal symbol of woman’s unconquerable power.She is thought to arise during traumatic events or severe disruptions in life.”
    Well, that made sense. My divorce was very traumatic to me – my “Perfect Life” was in shambles and I was so-so afraid of the future I would have to endure.

    Somehow I needed the strength she represented, to move forward despite my fears. She said, “Don’t cross me! I’ll kick your a@!”

    Yet, my best bet was to be-friend her… to “use” her so I wouldn’t collapse in it all. I needed, however to keep her in check.

    “I hate my ex” becomes “I hate me” … ? … for failing my family.

    Ok. That makes sense. … but, can I forgive me, too?

    “I need to destroy my idea that we had a good marriage” became, “I need to embrace my idea that we had a good marriage, but it’s over.”

    I felt calmed by that statement. At least it wasn’t unusual, right? Many people decide that they don’t want to stay in stagnant lives, even though it was, at one time, thriving.

    So I invite you to try this exercise. Let me know how it goes!

    What are you stuffing?


    “New Weight-Loss Trick Revealed!”

     Do something for me – will you? Close your eyes and slowly bring a few fingers from your non-dominant hand to your lips, and gently touch. Leave them there for a few seconds. 

    The very first emotionally soothing act since leaving the womb was touching your lips and tasting nourishment. Our initial experience also taught us to “marry” eating and emotional soothing. It’s an imprint that continues to sooth us throughout life.

    And what about pacifiers? They cleverly distract us from our needs, thus creating another mouth/anticipation-that-your-needs-will-be-met coupling. But I’ll get into addictions another time.

    If you struggle with weight chances are you are unconsciously stuffing your feelings. You are trying to gratify a need or want that you don’t know how to get met otherwise. When you begin to understand what prompts you to use food as a way to fulfill other needs, you journey into a deeper, more respectful place within yourself. Rather than instantly changing your relationship with food through a new diet (which you may know doesn’t last), get to know yourself.

    Are you stuffing anger? Learn about Assertiveness. Not only do you have a right to your opinions, wants and feelings, you have a right to express them. Are you avoiding a decision? The belief that one wrong move can mean a disaster can be paralyzing. Learn how to accept the possibility of making a mistake. I find that most are repairable. Do you feel a need for control? Over what? Is it true that you need this? Maybe you need to learn about authentic responsibility. Pick up some tips from a book about Codependency.

    I strongly recommend journaling to better understand yourself. Meet yourself. Listen with compassion. Then get objective. The solution is there.

    Therapy can be instrumental, in fact, it can be invaluable. We often need a witness other than ourselves to delve into the unknown aspects of Self. Get the help you deserve, privately and confidentially.

    The “secret new weight-loss trick”is finding ways to better satisfy all your hungers — physical and emotional.

    Journaling & The Power of Words

    Why Journal?

    At times of writing I never try to think of what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi


    journalingJournaling enables the writer to try various techniques that can lead to self-discovery through a process of expression and reflection. The diary is a place where you can express yourself without inhibition: feelings, thoughts, worries, dreams, fantasies, and goals; to recognize and alter self-defeating habits of the mind, and come to know and feel compassion for who you really are. Journaling helps you understand and resolve your past, discover joy in the present, and aid you in creating your own future. It’s a way to nourish your soul with self-acceptance; a nonthreatening place to work out relationships with others; to rehearse future behaviors; and to explore the “shadowy”, unknown parts of self.

    The Therapy Journal

    I encourage my clients to keep a therapy journal while we work together. Sometimes there is a temptation to get lazy in therapy and want the counselor to provide all the support needed. But you must ultimately develop these skills yourself. The use of a therapy journal will help assure that you truly learn from our time together.  It will become a place to develop and practice new life skills as you develop and fine-tune alternative ways of observing, thinking, and coping with your inner and outer world. Journaling is the fastest and most effective way I know to become self-aware, and therefore, facilitate personal growth and positive change.

    To begin, I ask clients to write a summary after each session. Start with jotting your impressions of the session. It can include the content discussed, feelings you experienced, and even your judgments of the quality of the session. These summaries will help you sift through insights and feelings that occurred during and after the therapeutic hour. You can record some of your therapist’s insights and go back and review the advice when needed, integrating and reinforcing the healing process. You can also write about issues that came up and weren’t examined during the therapeutic hour and explore them more fully on your own.

    Also, bring your journal to each appointment to jot notes that you can expand upon later. In therapy, we are often doing deeper work that you may “forget” when you leave the office. Jotting notes provide the reminder.

    Other Moments to write about

    Sometimes a wish to explore an insight or feeling cannot wait for an appointment. By writing about it in your diary the insight or feeling can be captured when it occurs. (The energy of these experiences has often dissipated by the time you have another appointment, and you might wrongly dismiss it as no big deal). Writing when the topic is hot can also help you track any possible rhythms of thoughts and emotions. You can also use these writings to get a sense of what needs attention during the next session.

    The therapy journal will also serve as a sort of ‘timeline’ where you can review earlier writings. This practice will reveal the often hard-to-see progress you made over time (as well as any continued patterns of unhealthy thinking).

    Other times, in addition to a summary I may ask my client to practice various skills we’re working on (i.e., the Awareness Wheel, imaginary conversations, inner child work) – writing assignments that will facilitate new skills or evoke fresh insights.

    A good therapist may demonstrate HOW to nurture, support, and guide you, but ultimately the central relationship in the diary is to be with yourself, and it is precisely this active, positive relationship with self that therapy works to facilitate.

     A few Guidelines

    1.   Privacy: Keep your journal in a safe, private place. Confidentiality is important, as it will allow you to be honest and express yourself freely without thoughts of judgment from others. You may want to share certain passages or drawings with people you trust. But be selective and avoid showing your work to anyone who tends to judge you.
    1. Setting and time: Create a quiet, comfortable place, ideally where you will not be interrupted or distracted. For some people this is difficult to do. If that is the case, then figuring out how to create privacy for yourself will be an important step in your own growth. Reserve a block of at least 15 minutes when you decide to write. Date each entry and keep them in chronological order.
    1. Write spontaneously: Allow yourself to follow your intuition. Write quickly and allow the unexpected to happen. If you find you are struggling to write, you are probably trying to come across a certain way. Write as you speak: Do not concern yourself with spelling, punctuation, or grammar. This only inhibits spontaneity and engages the inner-critic.

    If you have an inspiration and your journal is not available, write on anything you can find! You can then paste, tape, or staple it in your journal later. This will be helpful when you look back over your work to see your progress and evolution.

    1. Materials – Some believe your paper should be at least 5×7 so you can write LARGE when excited or angry, or small when sad or quiet. You also may draw sometimes, and/or use crayons. I prefer an 8-x11 notebook with three sections. The first section might be the “Therapy Journal” described above; the next section could be devoted to “Inner-Child Dialogue”, and the final section might be used for certain assignments, like the “Unsent Letter”, Awareness Wheel practice, dialogues, the Worksheet expansions, etc.

    Happy journaling!


    “You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do.
    Even if we already have a mother, we still have to
    find this part of ourselves inside

    Sue Monk Kidd