The human soul has two major emotional arenas—the conscious and the unconscious. We already discussed the Mississippi River-like “collective unconscious,” but in addition, we have an individual unconscious, where most of our emotions reside. You’ve probably heard of Freud. He is “The Man”! Freud wrote about the unconscious, a vast murky psychological ocean that contains two most powerful unconscious forces—the sexual and the aggressive drives. Society has rules about sexual and aggressive behavior, imposing social and legal consequences for violations of that code. And, as we discussed in the Spiritual Compass Point, we also have our individual codes of ethics that keep us from doing things that are harmful to ourselves or others. When we violate our ethics, we usually feel guilt and pain! But sometimes our unconscious sexual or aggressive urges can seem to take on a life of their own, causing us to take leave of our senses and throw good judgment out the window. In the midst of a storm of emotions, we can behave in harmful ways, like when Rosa aggressively acted out her jealousy by posing Amber’s private hurt on Facebook. A young friend asked, “If these drives are outside of our awareness, how can we recognize them, so that we can avoid trouble and have great relationships in life?” If you want to understand this major part of life, get to know “The Man” better. How? Here are some tools from Keep Your Eye on the Prize! www.keepyoureyeontheprize.org
1. Learn to connect physical sensations and emotional states through relaxation techniques and “body scanning.” Develop a sense of your physical reactions to intense emotion—how anger and other strong feelings such as attraction, shame, sadness, fear, jealousy, and anxiety feel in your body.
2. Ever heard of a “Freudian Slip? This is an accidental slip of the tongue, which Freud called “parapraxis.” Nonsense? Rich thought so too, until he met Janine, to whom he was immediately attracted. He asked if she wanted to get together for coffee. When she agreed, Rich said, “How about Friday— my schedule has been so erotic lately!” They both laughed. Rich’s unconscious sexual feelings had slipped out from his unconscious into his speech. Although he had never previously had much respect for Freud, he was amazed to learn that the old guy knew a thing or two.
3. Here is something else to note—your dreams, the “royal road to the unconscious.” Dreams give us messages directly from the source—i.e., the unconscious. If you have one that feels important when you wake up, it probably is. If you write it down, you might learn something valuable. It can tell you how you really feel about a situation or a person, even if you are not aware of these feelings in your waking life. Check it out later to see if what your dream advised turns out to be true.