Making the unconscious conscious

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

C.G. Jung

We all live our life carrying out the majority of behaviours unconsciously every day. Many of these things are habit which the American Journal of Psychology defines as “a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.” Habits move behaviours from the conscious frontal lobe of the brain where thoughts here are more effortful – into the unconscious areas of the brain that enables us to carry out behaviours without much effort. If you think of it in terms of learning to drive a car. Initially it takes a huge amount of effort concentrating on what our feet are doing, our hands, where we’re looking, what we need to do next. Once we know how to drive we can travel along our daily route from start to finish without giving the driving much thought at all. In fact it can sometimes be almost scary how pre-occupied thinking about something else we can be while still reaching our destination. 

It’s essential that we have habits and can do things without much conscious thought- we couldn’t operate as humans or get much very done without them. Habits enable us to pass learning to a more automatic part of the brain. The problem is that if we do too much without conscious thought we don’t grow as a person. This ultimately relates to self-awareness. It matters for matters to our day to day happiness and well-being but also to performance. 

If we don’t understand the loops that we go through by consciously taking a step back from them, we continue to do them and assume they are out of our control (which is what Jung meant by calling them fate). Whether that’s always saying yes to things we don’t really want to do, to understanding the things that lead us to feel worn out to watching our peers get ahead at work. We can feel sorry for ourself or blame our situation for not getting that promotion. But much of it is down to us. Not always. Referring back to a quote from earlier this week. If you’re not even aware of it you can’t move on by – accepting it, changing it or leaving it. 

There’s more to come on self-awareness including a podcast interview I’m so excited to share where I talk with the brilliant Tasha Eurich New York Best Selling author on this very topic. 

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Photo Nacho Rochon via unslpash

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