Hey there..! Did I startle you..? I am sorry, I guess I must have. I am not sorry I came knocking though. I needed to talk to you, its about time.
Do I sound a mite peeved? Hmm… I suppose I must. Not that I will apologize for it. You are not in the position to appreciate it yet, but the truth is, I am exercising extraordinary restraint. What you are about to hear is a sort of monologue. I don’t need you to talk at ALL. Just nod in appropriate places and try to look a leeettle more intelligent than a lump of sodden wood and we’d get along fine. I will not be taxing your capacities more than that, I assure you.
You aren’t wrong, I AM peeved. But let us not dwell on that and focus instead on getting this show on the road.
Who am I..? I am your mind. I am the part you are mostly unaware of, hence ignore. I am your subconscious mind.
When I say your mind, you will think of your intellect. I know you are intelligent. Disregard the earlier lump of sodden wood jibe. That was deliberately let lose to grab your attention and was not intended to cast a slur upon your intellectual prowess.
Your intellect plays an important part in helping you achieve your goals and to be successful.
There are also other things that help in goal reaching. The ability to work hard, to remain focused, to take set-backs in your stride, your skills- people or technical. I could list out many other character traits and habits that contribute to achieving success. All these traits and characteristics are functions of the mind. But they are not functions of intellect.
What do you think intellect is…? Is it the ability to figure things out..? The ability to weigh pros and cons of available options and to take decisions..? Is it the ability to analyze and to see the big picture..? Is it the ability to connect dots and fit in the missing pieces of a jigsaw..? Is it sifting through facts and data until you find sensible nuggets vital to take you to the next leg of the journey to your goals…?
What about the ability to stay tenaciously on track and focused? Whose function is is to generate a determination to move mountains and not quit until it is moved..? Who looks beyond appearances to look at what more is possible..? Who ignores the what is and goes looking for what could be and ought to be..? Who inspires visions and weaves dreams; dreams which compel you to stand tall and walk unlimited roads with courage..? Are they too the job of intellect…?
No, that is MY job. It is I, your subconscious, that fuels those character traits and plants those visions. Without me to nurture and stoke them, you’d splutter out and gasp out your last, all your potential wasted, unused.
Your intellect is the part you call your conscious mind. I call him Noisy Little Brother, or NLB for short. Why noisy..? Because he makes a LOT of noise about how logical, rational and analytical he is and how you wont be able to get along even a day without his cleverness. Why Little..? Because compared to my ability and power, he is a pygmy. Why Brother..? Because we are parts of the same whole. Does that mean I don’t get exasperated with him and feel like whacking him on the side of his imaginary head to make him pipe down a bit..? Oh no…! It does NOT mean that. I don’t always feel brotherly towards him. To be fair though, it is not his fault; it is YOURS..! Which is why we’re having this conversation now.
To understand our distinct roles and respective powers, an iceberg is a useful symbol. NLB is the tip of the iceberg visible over the water. I am the part hidden away underneath the surface. If there is a real conflict between us, guess who wins..? You see now why I had to talk to you? You needed to know this, right..?
NLB is only aware of limited bits of information at a time. He is linear thinking, logical and analytical. He likes things to make sense, to have a reason. He is verbal and is responsible for all your self-talk (remember the nastier pieces?). NLB is the place of cognitive learning and understanding. His range of perception only extends to the immediate moment of now– and thus he is limited. For all his self-important pronouncements and puffed up chest, he is fearful and needs reassurances constantly. He MUST have obvious reasons for every decision he helps you make. He can only tell you your decisions and actions are right if the facts support that assessment. NLB accepts and follows imposed rules and makes value judgments in accordance to them. He is highly critical and often chooses to focus on what is wrong rather than what is not; he rejects, forbids and denies acceptance. Imagine a full of vinegar, judgmental, crusty and cranky old horse with blinkers on. That’s him.
I on the other hand, am aware of all there is in your range of perception and physical vision. Whether NLB makes a note of it or not, I do. I am lateral thinking and intuitive. I make associations and connections between seemingly disassociated thoughts, ideas and feelings. I think symbolically and am non-verbal (feeling). I am the place of experiential learning and intuitive understanding and knowing. I am unlimited in time and space, holding all memories and future constructs. I have unlimited range of perception and focus. I can access internal resources from memories of experiences, link them all together and create an empowered, resourceful state. I decide what to do about your experiences. I can forget (amnesia), distort (make false associations) or break connections (get over it). I know all your whys and have no need for reasons and assurances for your decisions. I will tell you your decisions and actions are right because I will feel them to be right. I don’t accept rules from an external agencies, I follow my own rules- which allow an unlimited leeway, indulgence and obedience to you. Whatever you want, I accept absolutely as the right. Imagine a soaring eagle with a 360 degree view and an unlimited sky. That’s me.
I am capable of working in two very distinct ways. I can take control of tasks which are habitual, routine, repetitive and structured; things you have learned to do without thinking. I can also work in completely unstructured, imaginative and creative ways. Thinking with your conscious minds as you read this, you will find the last two sentences contradictory. For me both can co-exist without conflict.
To understand the first way I can work, think about car driving. When you first drove a car, you had to consciously work out where to put each foot and how to use each new control. As your driving skills developed, you handed more and more control over to me. Now you are so proficient that you can drive, navigate and talk to your passenger all at the same time while I faultlessly execute driving instructions without having MLB jumping all over the place.
But to use me in this capacity is to grossly under-utilize my potential. It is an attempt to use a cannon to kill a rat. Effective, but an over-kill to the point of being an unforgivable waste. A cannon has other, mightier uses.
NLB’s tools are logic and rationality, mine are imagination and creativity. NLB is a fabulous precision tool that can analyze facts and can come up with solutions based on what it knows. In a clearly mapped territory, he can work at peak efficiency. In unmapped territory it flounders. When a problem is unknown and unpredictable; and needs creativity and imagination for finding solutions, he is unable to function. He has a very limited imagination.
I am not limited by what is known. I can go on audacious flights of fancy. I can create a universe out of nothing because everything is possible for me. I can work at ease in an environment devoid of structure and predictability. Unmapped territories are my domain, mine exclusively.
NLB gets bogged down by HOW. He must quantify and attach name tags to everything. If you have a vision and he cannot immediately perceive the tools/ resources with which to realize it, he will persuade you to abandon the vision as impossible.
I don’t bother about HOW, or by what looks impossible to him. I take the resources/ tools available and work with them to reach the goal you have set for me. I never doubt or analyze the possibility of success. I KNOW I will be successful in whatever I do. As far as I am concerned, if you have dreamt a dream, somewhere there must exist the resources to convert that dream into reality. I can go into a figure out HOW mode by creatively employing the available resources in unusual and unheard of ways. If that fails, i will wait for additional resources to manifest themselves, knowing they will appear sooner or later. I know your vision is an imperative to be obeyed by the benevolent universe which will conspire to bring resources/ people together, for skills to be learned so that your vision can be realized.
Most of you are driven by your conscious mind, while I am relegated to killing rats. Imagine the world’s most powerful supercomputer used to total grocery bills. Or Picasso forbidden to draw anything but monotone balloons. Or Bill Gates deputed to fixing children’s tricycles. Or Ramanujan delegated to the task of teaching multiplication tables to seven year olds. You get the drift..? You see now why I am peeved…?
To allow NLB to be in the driver’s seat while I am compelled to subordinate myself to his limited vision, to let the slave become the master, is the recipe for disaster. A disaster many of you live out in the days of your life, when you don’t need to. Isn’t that so sad and futile…?
Imagine letting me be the master, in the driver’s seat. Imagine being ‘internally driven’. If I am allowed and encouraged to speak, life flows… INSIDE OUT.
There is just one challenge though. Ordinarily, you cannot use me. But there are always solutions, aren’t there?
You’ll have to use EXTRA-ordinary methods. Game..?
Part of a series. To be continued…
Sleeping Giant (I)