Why is so much of our thinking (that underpins most of our behavior, determines our choices, our happiness, and our lives) invisible to us, and why are our unconscious desires so often the exact opposite to what we think we visibly want? This is one of the key questions I have tried to research in my book, Engaged: It seems that life would be very difficult if we remembered all our thoughts, as it would become very hard to place our conscious focus on a specific topic. Specifically, invisible thoughts serve two main functions: firstly, they create automated processes whereby we can master activities without thinking of them at all. This allows us to focus on new challenges. The more we learn, the more thoughts are added to each complex, so that eventually, the complexes themselves become part of other bigger complexes. An example of this can be seen from the process of learning to drive a car: initially, it takes quite a conscious effort to control the car but, over time, we drive effortlessly and involuntarily. It is logical then that all of our complexes work in the same way, once they have become formed. They think themselves irrespective of the circumstances we’re in.
Secondly, at some point in our lives we’ve made a decision that we prefer not to see certain thoughts. This is because they seem so frightening to us that we think that by being aware of them, they will prevent us from functioning efficiently. For example, a child may have a thought that they blame themselves for their mother’s unhappiness or anger, and fear that she may not want them. This is a very frightening thought for a child. As children, we know life would be very difficult without a parents love and care so, in order to get rid of the fear of this thought, the child may suppress it. Being a child, they cannot think such a frightening thought through rationally until the fear depletes in the way an adult can. The thought remains unfinished, and such thoughts can create patterns of thinking that have a great influence on our life.
These invisible thoughts tend to operate like programs in our head that direct our behavior in crucial aspects of our lives, such as relationships, money, daily habits and even the way we see ourselves. The key is to become aware of these patterns of thoughts. A first step is simply to take some time and think of areas where we don’t enjoy the results we desire, and seeing how we may have unconsciously done the same thing over and over again, yet hoping for a different outcome. I recommend you to try this out whenever you have moments of time for yourself to reflect.
Brendan Ó Sé