Last month I quoted the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland” who, when asked for directions by Alice, logically explained to her that if she didn’t know where she was going that it didn’t matter much which path she took. I know that from personal experience – when I lack focus and clarity on my goals and direction, it makes taking the first step much more difficult in my mind and life.
As William Shakespeare is quoted, “many a true word is spoken in jest” and I’d like to add that many a true word has been written in ‘nonsensical’ or fictional children’s literature. Because the subconscious mind is the childlike mind (which is when many of our beliefs, concepts about ourselves and the world are formed), then might there be deeper lessons or reflections on this seemingly innate or entrenched part of ourselves? A quick journey “Through the Looking Glass” may reveal some fodder for thought.
Can’t get there from here…
“If I could get to the top of that hill: and here’s a path that leads straight to it — at least, no, it doesn’t do that —’ … ‘but I suppose it will at last. But how curiously it twists! It’s more like a corkscrew than a path! Well, this turn goes to the hill, I suppose — no, it doesn’t! This goes straight back to the house! Well then, I’ll try it the other way.’”
If you’re like many people, you’ve probably felt this way about one or more changes you’ve decided to make. A smaller dress size. Feeling comfortable speaking in front of others. A restful night’s sleep. More focus. Greater productivity. Better endurance. .. When we start out on a journey it looks as though it will be straightforward and accessible. Because we’re smart and have succeeded in life before, right?
No matter how smart we are or our successes in other areas in the past, we are sometimes faced with an ‘invisible force’ that prevents us from getting to our desired destination. So what do we do? Push harder, kick and scream and berate ourselves for not breaking through (or a milder version of this). Yet this opposing force just seems to become more resolute the harder we push. And so we often get mad at our inability to change, and feel frustrated or hopeless that we can get ‘there’ from ‘here’.
The subconscious mind, as I mentioned before, is the childlike mind. Have you ever tried to reason with a 2-year-old? “No, no, no, no!” The assertion or ‘rebellion’ that the subconscious mind feels when it doesn’t want to do something is pretty hard to overcome. Yet why would the little kid in you not agree with the completely superior adult brain – how does it even compete?
Internal conflict of Dee and Dum
“‘I’m very brave generally,’ he went on in a low voice: ‘only to-day I happen to have a headache.’
‘And I’ve got a toothache!’ said Tweedledee, who had overheard the remark. ‘I’m far worse off than you!’
‘Then you’d better not fight to-day,’ said Alice, thinking it a good opportunity to make peace.
‘We must have a bit of a fight, but I don’t care about going on long,’ said Tweedledum. ‘What’s the time now?’
Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said ‘Half-past four.’
‘Let’s fight till six, and then have dinner,’ said Tweedledum.”
Many of our patterns, behaviours and even thought processes may be based on experiences and beliefs about ourselves and the world at a very young age. Sure, we might not have had the experience, insight or information we have now, but that doesn’t stop us from creating viewpoints and convictions about things and people, whatever our age may be.
When we can’t seem to make a change, the grown-up and rational mind over thinks the situation and can create all kinds of reasons for our failure – the stresses of work, home, family, other commitments – from other’s influences to simply a flaw in our genes. However, the ‘real’ reason, the one that may have happened before our adult mind was even aware of it, could be completely different.
It can be ever so arbitrary… So extra weight, from a past experience of baking that was seen as an expression of love, may be hard to give up (the expression of love, disguised in cookie form). Or a familial or gender trait of ‘we don’t do math’ could stymie attempts at accounting or budget control. Or a smoking habit that may have ‘made’ us cool, and doing so kept us seemingly safe from the bullying that may have happened otherwise, creates underlying challenges that we may no longer realize are still there (because we’re adults and are cool anyway, right?)
So when we decide, consciously, to make a change, we are confronted with these more established beliefs that fight us. And so the battle continues, with two well-meaning versions of ourselves hoping for the best for us, yet locked at different times and with different perceptions. Yet the more we fight, the more each side strengthens the resolution to not give in. And it goes on so brutally and subtly that we don’t even realize it’s happening within and feel exhausted from the non-stop internal stand-off, until we ‘un-decide’ to make a change and peace from the past returns.
A Rose by any other name would speak just as well?
‘That’s right!’ said the Tiger-lily. ‘The daisies are worst of all. When one speaks, they all begin together, and it’s enough to make one wither to hear the way they go on!’
So there’s a battle in our heads and we don’t even know that it’s happening most of the time. So our confusion grows and our patience with ourselves deteriorates.
Yet back to the little girl or boy who keeps tugging on an adult’s clothes saying “Mommy/Daddy”, and when the grown-up, exasperated from the constant bother yells “What?!?”, the little one simply says, “I wanted to tell you I love you” – sometimes the interpretation of the message ignored and the actual message to two totally different things.
While many of the patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions may be borrowed, inherited or picked up along the way, and some of them might not work for us anymore, there’s still a message in them that can be valuable to hear. And so we need to bring compassion into our foibles, with the anticipation of some misperception or belief system that may be skewed in a different way from the direction we’d like our life to go in.
When we listen, the tugging and conflict stops so we can hear all the different, and seemingly dissenting, opinions from all aspects of ourselves – from interpretations and reflections from the past, our personal experience and situation right now, and our anticipation and preparation for the future. When we stop fighting ourselves and start loving and listening to ourselves, the opposition dissipates and energy is rerouted and restored.
This tends to result in less ‘chatter’ on the inside, more alignment that can direct us and move us forward in ways that best suit us right now, and give us insight into our deeper needs and wants.
It’s all Jabberwocky to me…
“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe…”
Does it seem like mumbo-jumbo? Perhaps it does. The bedtime monsters, the Jabberwockys, can seem real and scary to a child, as can the questions that may be asked and unanswered or denied – “am I safe, loveable, valuable?”, “do I belong?”, “am I good or bad?”… When we aren’t sure of our place in the world, our coping mechanisms as humans can be complex and intricate dances, that sometimes land us in the position we most wish to avoid.
Can it be simpler than that? Can we ever re-learn in a way that suits us better? Of course. Our efforts are not wasted when we choose to shift our life in a more positive way for ourselves. We just need to keep an open mind and a compassionate understanding that even ‘bad’ habits you may have had for some time are just evidence of your determination and ability to stick to something (even if it’s not what you want anymore).
Being gentle with yourself and with underlying dialogue that may be running underneath your awareness, reduces animosity within and increases your chances for transformation. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis can certainly help with this – if you need some support on tweaking aspects of your life, or enhancing your performance, email us to make an appointment, so peace and change can reign in your world on both sides of the looking glass.
Below I leave you with my favourite segments of the book. As Audrey Hepburn is quoted as saying, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” The drifty, dreamy time at the start and end of the day are the best times to dream and imagine what you want and need in your life (the Queen is doing self-hypnosis!) so remember to use those times to imagine what you do want, not what you don’t want, even if they seem ‘impossible’ right now…
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast…”
Embrace the curious and enjoy…