In this post I’m going to introduce a topic that is extremely complex. Every human on the planet is hearing voices all the time, yet most would never say “I hear voices.” If you put it like that, you sound like you have a mental illness. So instead, people say “I have thoughts,” by which they really mean “There are voices talking inside of my being.”
Now the common assumption is that you are the originator of all of your thoughts, and that the only part of yourself that thinks things is your mind. Both of these assumptions are quite wrong, as I am going to demonstrate in this post. In real life, you have four different elements to your being, and each one of those elements has its own, independent thoughts. So, no, you don’t think with your mind. You think with your body, soul, subconscious and conscious. These four elements of your being are in constant communication with each other, giving their perspective of what’s going on around you, how they each personally feel at the moment, and what they think the general group ought to do next. In other words, you don’t just think. You have group discussions.
So who exactly are you? You are that group party. Is it bizarre? Extremely, but there it is. You see, the nonhuman Being who made you–aka God–is an extremely complex Being who loves to make extremely complex things. When God came up with you, He designed you to be interesting to Him, and God likes things to be complex, multilayered, and fluctuating.
So let’s say you and I have a conversation. Which element of your being will be the one communicating with me in that conversation? All of them. In real life, you frequently rotate which element of your being you are quoting when you speak to other humans. Which element speaks up when depends on the subject being discussed. To show you how this works, let’s run through an example.
If I were to ask you “Are you hungry right now?”, it is your body that will answer that question. Your body is the only part of you that gets hungry for food.
Now all of your elements are rather chatty, so when I ask if you are hungry, your body will not only say yes or no, it will elaborate. It might say No, I’m actually quite stuffed from that hamburger I just ate. Or it might say, Yes, I’m quite hungry! And what I really want is pasta!
While your body is going to give detailed answers, you might only relay a small piece of that answer to me. Externally, you might just say Yes or No in answer to my question, but internally you will be aware of a longer response to my question. It’s very helpful to realize that humans only ever express a tiny fraction of what they actually feel and think to each other.
Four Elements, Four Languages
Let’s talk about this idea of your body answering my question about hunger. How exactly does that work? Does your body speak in a verbal language? No, it doesn’t. While all of your elements are constantly chitchatting with each other, they each use a different form of communication.
So now we have four different elements all speaking in their own native tongue. Well, how does that work? If they are all speaking in different languages, how do they understand each other? Are they all fluent in each other’s languages? Not exactly. Your conscious, for example, is not able to understand your body directly. It can pick up on the general mood of your body–happy, distressed, etc–but it needs help to understand the details of what your body is saying. It’s rather like you being an English speaker and watching two Italian speakers having a heated argument. You can tell just by watching them that they are angry, but you need your bilingual friend to help you understand exactly what they are fighting about.
So who does the interpreting when elements can’t understand each other? That task falls on your subconscious. Your subconscious is able to understand the native tongues of all of your elements. It doesn’t have the tools to speak them all personally, but it can understand them all, which is good enough.
So let’s go back to me asking you if you’re hungry. Suppose the answer you give is: “Yes, I’m so hungry, and what I really want is pasta!” While you give me your answer right away, a very complex process happened inside of you which I’m now going to break down so that you can start to appreciate what a complex, brilliant, and skillful little thing you are.
Step 1: INTERPRET THE INFORMATION
When I asked you my question, I made verbal noises which you call words. Your body received those sounds through those fascinating audio input ports located on the sides of your skull which you call ears. Your body then instantly relayed those sounds to your conscious and subconscious, both of which understand verbal languages. Your subconscious instantly referred to its epic database of words and definitions which it keeps on hand. Faster than you can blink, your subconscious analyzed and interpreted the meaning of my question. So now it’s clear that someone wants to know if your body is desiring food. Well, only your body can answer that.
STEP 2: RELAY the Inquiry to the Correct Element
Your subconscious is the only one of your elements that is fluent in body talk. Your subconscious now relays my question to your body, phrasing it in a way that will glean the right information. After all, what I’m really asking is for a nutrient and energy status report from your body. When your subconscious relays my question, it breaks down the concept of “hungry” to make sense to your body.
When it receives the question from your subconscious, your body does a rapid assessment of its own status, and then relays its current needs back to your subconscious. At the moment, it is feeling rather fatigued and could really do with a large serving of starch. Your body doesn’t just say “Yes, I’m hungry.” Instead, it communicates specific nutritional requests to your subconscious using its mysterious yet highly efficient body talk. Your subconscious receives this input, easily understands what your body has said, and then runs your body’s specific nutritional requests through another epic database that your subconscious keeps on hand. This second database is a record of everything you’ve ever ingested in life, including food, drinks, and drugs. Each item is linked to notes about the nutritional breakdown of what was ingested, as well as notes on how your various elements were effected by the substance at the time.
After running its analysis, your subconscious decides that a large plate of spaghetti would nicely meet the nutritional requests that your body is making. It’s now time to relay this information to your conscious.
Now while all this has been going on, your conscious has been on hold, waiting for your subconscious to instruct it on how to respond to me. Your conscious can’t understand your body’s native tongue, so it relies on your subconscious to relay the gist of what your body says. Your conscious does not have access to the epic databases that your subconscious maintains, and that includes your subconscious’ massive database of your life memories.
Now your subconscious loves pictures, and in one nanosecond after I ask you my question, it has completed its discussion with your body, run its nutrient analysis, and decided on a good food option. It now relays a picture of a plate of spaghetti to your conscious along with a nonverbal affirmation that your body is indeed quite hungry. Your subconscious prefers to speak using images. It feels they are much more efficient than words. Your conscious is easily confused by images unless your subconscious clarifies precisely what it means. Your conscious sees the plate of spaghetti and recognizes it as a form of pasta. It understands that your subconscious is saying your body wants more food very soon, so your conscious is now ready to relay that information to me.
STEP 3: Communicate to a Third Party
Now the tricky bit about me is that I’m another human, and other humans are very limited in the kinds of information they can receive from you. Your conscious understands that it will need to translate your subconscious’ communication into audible sounds that my body can receive and pass on to my conscious and subconscious. When talking to other humans, you have to go through the body, and that means using forms of communication that the body can record using its physical senses. If we were both deaf, I could wave my hands around and your body would be able to record my sign language motions using its eyes. The point is that it’s impossible for you and I to communicate soul-to-soul, conscious-to-conscious or subconscious-to-subconscious. We must always start by communicating body-to-body. So this is what your conscious does. It translates your subconscious’ directives into a precise verbal sentence which it then directs your body to speak. Your body performs a dazzling series of precisely coordinated maneuvers with your vocal cords, tongue, lips and jaw to produce the sounds your conscious wants. And so you answer: “Yes, I’m so hungry, and what I really want is pasta!”
Notice how your conscious didn’t specify spaghetti, even though that is what the subconscious showed it a picture of. Not just any spaghetti, but spaghetti with a thick marinara sauce and large meatballs. That very detailed image was pulled from your subconscious’ memory files of the last time you went to Pepito’s Italian Restaurant. Your subconscious chose that image because, according to its nutrient database, that meal will nicely meet the specific nutrient needs that your body is currently requesting. Your conscious recognizes the picture, but this time it chose to be vague and just say pasta. Another time it might choose to be specific and say, “I want spaghetti from Pepito’s.” Like all of your elements, your conscious makes choices that affect how information is relayed between your elements and to other humans.
Are you starting to get a feel for how complex you are? And yet in real life, you don’t feel aware of all the steps I just described even though they are all happening with lightning speed. To you, I asked a question, you immediately became aware of the answer, and you relayed that answer to me. In other words, you experienced our exchange from the perspective of your conscious. Is this the only perspective of yourself that you can ever tune into?
Four Kinds of Self-Awareness
As you might already be suspecting, the concept of self-awareness is much more complicated than people realize. Because people feel unaware of themselves when they are asleep, and because people often think sleeping is when your mind shuts down, it’s commonly thought that you can only be self-aware when your mind is awake.
Let’s see if we can clear up some of these misunderstandings.
First, let’s talk about sleeping. When you sleep, only one of your elements actually shuts down, and that is your conscious. The rest of your elements are busy little bees all night long. Your body and subconscious work together all night to do some very necessary body maintenance. Your subconscious performs massive reorganization tasks and self-evaluations which are vital to your mental health. And your soul is chitchatting away with your subconscious as well as doing its own musings. So at night, it’s really like this:
Now most people would say they are unaware of themselves while they sleep. Ah, but what about your dreams? It is your subconscious which manufactures most of your dreams, and in your dreams, your subconscious is expressing its perspective of your current situation (see What Are Dreams?). The reason your dreams seem so bizarre is that your subconscious uses its preferred language to create your dreams, and your subconscious loves symbolism. Most dreams are a creative blending of imagery that is pulled from your subconscious’ massive memory archives. The point is that you are not unaware of yourself when you sleep. When you dream, you see yourself from the perspective of your subconscious. You can also dial into your subconscious’ viewpoint when you are awake, but it’s a bit harder to do because your conscious is so distracting.
When you are awake, you default to viewing yourself primarily from the perspective of your conscious. Because your conscious is so limited, your awareness of yourself is very limited when you are seeing yourself only from the conscious’ point of view.
Conflicts Between Elements
Let’s now use an analogy to see how it affects your self-awareness to see life through the eyes of a single element. Let’s step into the home of the Reynolds: a four member family that is currently going through some tough financial times. Bill is the father and husband in this group, and he blames the current tight budget on his wife, who he feels wastes a lot of money on frivolous items.
Bill’s wife Michelle has a very different view of things. She blames their current crisis on Bill and his pathetic lack of drive. If he’d only applied for that new position in his company last month, he’d be making more money. Michelle feels it’s impossible to raise two kids on the pittance that Bill brings home.
Tommy is the young boy who knows nothing about finances, paychecks, and budgets. When asked what he thinks about the financial situation in his house, he says his parents are always arguing about money. Tommy finds the whole idea of money to be negative and stressful because to him, it’s just a source of friction between two people that he depends on.
Sarah is Tommy’s younger sister. Sarah also knows nothing about money, but she agrees with Tommy that it’s not a good thing because it makes their parents so unhappy.
Now in this analogy, Bill represents your subconscious and Michelle represents your soul. In real life, a lot of the conflict that goes on inside of you is a result of these two alpha elements getting into heated arguments with each other (see The Supremacy of The Subconscious & The Soul).
In my analogy, Tommy and Sarah represent your conscious and body. Just as Tommy and Sarah don’t understand why their parents are so upset with each other, your body and conscious often don’t grasp exactly why your soul and subconscious are locking horns. But like the Reynolds children, your conscious and body become very upset when your soul and subconscious fight.
Now suppose you’re in the situation that is pictured above. Each of your elements express stress differently. Your body expresses stress in physical ways, and in this scenario, it’s quite likely that you’d develop some physical health problems. Muscle pains, headaches, and digestive problems are very common stress symptoms, so let’s say you start having a lot of digestive problems. Whenever you eat, you feel bloated and miserable, so you finally go to a medical doctor for help. Medical doctors are trained to focus on body problems. The difficulty here is that body problems are often caused by the body reacting to what’s going on with your other elements. If you only look at the body without looking at the big picture of what’s currently going on among all of a patient’s elements, you are probably going to come up with treatments that don’t do much.
In the vast sea of professionals who are offering to help you deal with your problems in life, it’s quite rare for any of them to understand the principles I’m explaining in this post. Instead, what you find are specialists who focus on only one or two elements while barely acknowledging or totally denying the existence of the others. Spiritual counselors are taught to focus on the soul, medical doctors focus on the body, psychologists focus on the subconscious and conscious. While each group can have some helpful insights, focusing too much on only one or two elements always results in problems.
Now let’s say you’re talking to your medical doctor about your physical problems. When he says, “Tell me what’s bothering you,” you launch into a description of your current physical miseries. You say, “I just feel so stressed out and tense lately. My appetite is gone, and when I make myself eat, I always end up feeling sick for hours afterwards. I feel fidgety and can’t sit still or relax. I’m just miserable.” When your doctor asks, “Is there something specific troubling you?”, you then say, “I just feel so upset all the time. I’m not happy, I’m miserable. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong, I just know that something is.”
When you talk like this, you are temporarily tuning in to your body’s view of things. Your body is primarily focused on its own well-being, which is why it focuses on its inability to function well when it is asked how it is doing. In the scenario I’m using, your body is reacting to the fact that your soul and subconscious are at war with each other. Your body doesn’t understand all of the details of their conflict, it just knows that they are both really upset, and this scares your body because it feels like its own well-being depends on your alpha elements.
Now suppose you go talk to a pastor a few days later. A pastor is taught to focus on the soul, and so he naturally phrases his questions to you in ways that are trying to pinpoint soul concerns. Since morality is a huge issue to your soul, when your pastor asks, “Is there something weighing on your conscience?”, it is your soul that answers.
When people talk about their conscience, they are actually talking about their soul. Your soul is not just a moral meter that was installed in you at birth. Your soul is much more than that, so you should really chuck the idea of a conscience and instead realize that whenever you find yourself stressing over the morality of something, that’s your soul talking.
Sitting in your pastor’s office, you say, “Well, yes, I am feeling bothered by something. My best friend is having an affair and I’m the only one who knows. I saw her making out with another man in a car at night. She and her husband are close friends with me and my husband. Now I don’t know what to do. I feel like I should say something. I feel like I’m betraying her husband if I don’t.” This is your soul expressing its perspective of the situation. Notice how specific it is. Unlike your body, your soul understands exactly what’s causing the current crisis, and it also has a very strong opinion about what should be done. Your pastor now asks, “So why haven’t you said anything?”
Unlike your soul, your subconscious doesn’t give a toss about morality, but it cares enormously about your social relationships. It considers your friend to be an important source of emotional affirmation, validation, and attention. Since your friend also happens to be in charge of your community’s highly successful theatrical group, she is also a very important source of social clout that your subconscious doesn’t want to lose. For these reasons, your subconscious is adamantly opposed to doing anything that will cause your friend to turn against you, thus cutting you off from important social and emotional resources. Your subconscious understands that when this affair becomes known, your friend’s husband will probably cut you off, but he’s expendable to your subconscious because he can’t offer you the perks that your friend can.
Now that little assessment I just gave might sound rather harsh and self-centered, but this is how your subconscious thinks. It is very good at making tough calls and cutting its losses with brutal indifference. Before you write off this part of your being as grossly immoral, realize that your subconscious is constantly saving your hide by performing a whole host of vital operations that your soul is simply incapable of doing. Yes, it is selfish. But all of your elements are selfish–they just emphasize different priorities. Your soul wants its way in all things. The fact that it happens to care immensely about morals makes it seem better than your other elements, but it’s really just as self-serving as the rest.
Back in your pastor’s office, you now switch over to the view of your subconscious when you explain why you haven’t blown the whistle on your friend. “I haven’t said anything because I know she’ll be furious if I do and I don’t want to lose her as a friend.” This is the truncated version. Your subconscious is very intelligent and it knows that your pastor will not approve of it wanting to keep your friend around because she has the power to give you the starring role in her next production. So your subconscious intentionally omits certain details and keeps its answer vague. Your subconscious has also already decided that it doesn’t give a darn what your pastor has to say about this situation because it views the man as being on the side of your soul. If your pastor was well trained in how to handle these situations, he’d recognize that what’s really going on here is a clash of priorities between your soul and subconscious. He’d then talk to you in a way that helped both elements feel heard and validated before attempting to give you advice. But in real life, pastors aren’t trained like this. So when your pastor cracks open the Christian Bible to quote a verse that he feels is relevant, your soul waits eagerly to see what wise gem he’ll pull out of that religious text while your subconscious huffs in irritation at how unfair and biased this whole setup is.
What I want you to learn from this scenario is that you are constantly rotating which perspective you view yourself from. Since your four elements have different abilities, priorities and needs, how they view your current well-being and what they feel you should do in a given moment can vary quite a bit. Since you are all four elements combined, the way you feel in a given moment is a merger of four different viewpoints. This is why so often in life you find yourself feeling opposite emotions at the same time.
When your friend announces she’s engaged, you are happy for her and jealous at the same time. When you see a large currency bill fall out of the purse of the woman in front of you, part of you wants to take the money and run while another part wants to call out to the woman and make sure she gets her money back. When you get diagnosed with cancer, part of you wants to do the treatment the doctor is recommending, part of you does not want to go through that horrid procedure, and another part of you is raging at the injustice of it all. When you hear your wife sniffling in the middle of the night, part of you wants to blow her off and go back to sleep, part of you wants to try to comfort her, and another part of you wants to snap at her to be quiet. Humans are complex, and they have the ability to have four different reactions to any situation. When some of your elements are in agreement with each other, you might have just two or three different reactions. But total agreement is a rare thing. Most of the time there will be some difference of opinion.
Now this was a long post and I haven’t even finished covering the basics. So if you’re interested in this topic–and especially if you are currently being plagued by the kinds of scary voices and/or hallucinations that attract labels like crazy, delusional, and schizo–be sure to read my next installment of this little miniseries. In this post, I’ve introduced four different possible sources of thoughts in your head. But there are actually two more very important sources that you need to be aware of which actually originate from outside of you. The better you understand your own mechanics, the better you’ll do at responding productively to upsetting experiences in life.
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