Memory suppression and intentional deception on the part of your mind are very common in cases of psychological trauma. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that your mind feels too tired to take on any more stress, and reviewing traumatic memory files is always very stressful to your mind. The second reason is that your mind is worried about the effects revealing that information will have on your other elements–especially your soul. The purpose of this post is to help your soul gain more compassion for your mind’s point of view on this issue. I will also explain how your soul can behave in a way that will encourage your mind to talk to it, instead of causing your mind to become even more guarded.
Limited Resources & Constant Demands
Your soul and mind experience your life very differently. This is primarily due to the fact that these two elements have such different skillsets. Your soul’s main work is to perform moral assessments, ponder the meaning of your existence, and try to identify satisfying purposes for you to aim towards. Providing a higher meaning for your life is one of the your soul’s most critical contributions, and the kinds of goals your soul chooses to focus determine how meaningful and satisfying you feel your existence is.
Now your soul doesn’t spend every waking hour musing like a little philosopher. When it feels content with its current goals and choices, and when no new situations are arising for it to assess, it has plenty of time to relax. Unlike your mind, your soul isn’t burdened with the responsibility of closely supervising your body 24/7.
When your body has a problem–which it often does–it is your mind that immediately provides assistance and direction while your soul just hangs back and lets your mind sort things. When you go to sleep at night, that’s essentially free time for your soul, while your mind gets hit with the massive task of downloading all of the data your conscious has collected from the day, and clearing off your conscious’ memory drive so it can begin the new day with plenty of room for storing new data. After clearing off your conscious’ data storage drive, your subconscious must then go through the massive task of sorting, tagging, analysing, and filing all of the data you’ve amassed from your waking period.
While you sleep, your body is preoccupied with working on a bunch of self-maintenance tasks. Your subconscious takes advantage of the downtime to hastily get its own house back in order and ready for the next waking period. A critical task it performs while you are asleep is to review its pending problems list. It’s the review of that list that inspires most of the material for your dreams. Your dreams are essentially the product of your mind talking to itself about its current stresses and concerns. Assuming no physical problems arise while you’re sleeping, you wake up with your mind focused and ready to get hit with a new barrage of tasks.
The key point to understand here is that your mind never gets time off. It’s generally much easier for your soul to carve out time for itself than it is for your mind to get a minute because your mind is the one responsible for making sure you survive your waking hours. As soon as you wake up from a very long night of fasting, your body has compiled a whole list of things that it wants. Food, please. And water. And a refresh of some basic hygiene. Your body also wants comfy clothes and comfy shoes–whatever is appropriate to the day’s weather. You’re not even out of bed by the time your body has submitted a long list of wants to your mind, and now it’s up to your mind to sort out the best order in which to get all of those things done. Right about then is when your soul pipes up with its own list of things it would like to accomplish today using your body. Perhaps your soul wants to go visit your sister in the hospital because it’s the morally right thing to do. And perhaps your soul wants to spend hours on the internet, researching volunteer opportunities at some local charities. Your mind takes your soul’s requests onboard as well and tries to sort out how it can keep everyone happy. But your mind is also forward thinking, and while your body is only talking about breakfast right now, your mind knows it will also need a lunch and dinner and potentially some snacks in between. Your mind tries to anticipate what your body will need for the entire day so it can figure out how to acquire those resources in time. If you have a job you need to go to, that means you’ll be stuck in that environment for a long time with limited access to resources. So your mind has to factor that in as well, and figure out all of the prep it needs to do ahead of time to make sure you leave the house with sufficient supplies to keep your body happy. For your mind, every day is work, work, work. Every night is a big scramble to clean up the chaos that was created from the last day’s work and get ready for the next barrage.
Take a moment to think about your overall stress level. Are you someone who is always rushing about, feeling like they’re barely keeping up with the demands of life? What’s your mental environment like during a day? Do you do a lot of intensive problem solving? Do you do a lot of worrying? How pressured do you feel in life? The more intense your overall stress levels are for any reason, the more pressured your mind feels. What often happens in trauma cases is that minds are trying to operate under immense pressure–rather like a man who is trying to hike while carrying a ton of weight on his back. The hike itself is enough to tire anyone out, but the addition of the heavy pack makes the man feel even more exhausted.
The problem with your mind feeling exhausted is that it often seems like no one cares. Your body is incapable of taking care of itself without constant assistance, so it continues to pelt your mind with requests. More water, please. How about some caffeine? I think that sandwich was bad–it tasted funny. I need something quick to combat food poisoning. I’m cold. I’m uncomfortable. I’m hot. I’m hungry. My foot hurts. It never stops with your body, but the things it directly asks for are only a fraction of what it needs. Your body is pretty useless at recognising the dangers around it, so your mind is constantly using the data your body collects with its physical senses (your eyes, ears, nose, etc.) to scan your environment for potential threats to your safety. When your mind identifies a potential problem–which it does quite often–it gives your body specific instructions for what to do about it. There’s a hole in the grass up ahead–don’t twist your foot in it. Is that person staring at us? Watch him for a moment so I can analyse his behaviour. Never mind, he’s alright, he’s just watching that bird. Stop watching the bird or you’ll step in the hole! Your body needs constant supervision. It’s a brilliant machine with a vast array of impressive skills, but it’s a nightmare when it comes to basic safety. Your mind can’t afford to slack off in its monitoring duties or your body would quickly end up in a crisis that would create major problems for the whole team.
Now when your mind is feeling frustrated and tired, your soul’s response is often less than helpful. Your soul is very good at blasting your mind with a bunch of useless advice, insulting criticisms, and frustrating demands that your mind feels it can’t possibly satisfy. When you’re already exhausted, you don’t need someone to come along and bully you or hand you a list of ridiculous tasks. Who has time to visit your stupid sister in the stupid hospital? Your mind wants to rest, and it doesn’t even like your sister because when she’s healthy, she’s always hassling you. As far as your mind is concern, your sister’s illness gets her off your back for a while and that’s a good thing. Your mind has a different set of values than your soul does, and it couldn’t care less about “being the bigger person” or “taking the moral high road.” It wants to rest. But your soul is about to throw a tantrum if it doesn’t get its way on this issue, and your mind is too tired to deal with more drama, so fine, we’ll go to the darn hospital. Of course once you’re there and your body trips in the parking lot and badly scrapes its hands, does your soul step up to handle things? Of course not. It expects your mind to swoop in and save the day, as usual. Thanks for giving me another problem to handle, Soul. It’s so touching how you care about our enemy more than you do your own partner.
In cases of psychological traumas, souls often behave in ways that are very unhelpful, and even downright mean. In response, minds become withdrawn and hostile–snapping at their bullying partners while they keep their deepest fears to themselves. Would you share your deepest fears and wounds with some jerk who seemed determined to find fault in everything you do? Of course not. Sharing sensitive information with a bully only gives him new ways to hurt you.
When your mind feels threatened and exhausted, it talks less, not more. It becomes secretive. When your soul presses it for information, your mind starts making up a bunch of lies. Often it will try to fool your soul into focusing on an issue that isn’t even an issue–rather like when you throw a random stick for a dog to chase just so he’ll stop focusing on you. Other times your mind will simply stonewall your soul, refusing to respond to its questions at all. If your mind gets really upset, it might even lash out in a hostile way, using its superior influence over your body and conscious to box your soul into a corner where it can do nothing but helplessly stand by as your mind takes control.
Recognising the Signs of a Cagey Mind
So how do you know when your mind is withholding important information from your soul? A key indication here is when you find your mind acting very stressed, yet you can’t figure out why it is stressed. Remember this key principle: your mind always has logical reasons for behaving the way that it does. Your mind is very self-aware, meaning that it understands its own motivations very well. This means that your mind is quite capable of explaining its behaviour to you in great detail if it wants to. But your mind resents feeling threatened or forced. While trying to force your mind to talk can sometimes be successful, it also comes with a high risk of making your mind feel even more stressed. But so what? When souls are impatient to get their partner minds to start talking, they will often view forceful methods as only being beneficial.
Things like hypnosis, EMDR, and micro-doses of psychedelic drugs are often touted as risk-free ways of forcing your mind to divulge its secrets and making huge breakthroughs in resolving trauma. The problem with these methods is that they underestimate your mind’s intelligence. Your mind knows when you’re coercing it–even when you try to go about it in a friendly way. How would you feel if someone picked the lock on a chest in your house where you hid your most sacred possessions? How would you feel if someone fished a diary out of that chest and started reading through all of your most private fears and secrets? Sure, there can be a sense of relief that finally someone else knows about the pain you’re in. But there’s also been a major breach of trust, because they knew you didn’t want them rifling through your chest, but they did it anyway. They violated one of your most important boundaries, and now that they’ve proven they can’t be trusted at all, they expect you to sit there discussing your most painful secrets with them and actually relying on them to help you when they’ve just betrayed you on such a deep level. See the problem? It really annoys me when counsellors encourage their clients to try to hack through their mind’s defences while pretending such actions have no long-term consequences. Minds draw boundaries for valid reasons. When your soul disrespects those boundaries by trampling all over them, and then succeeds in prying some secret out of your mind, that’s hardly good therapy. That’s just your soul reinforcing your mind’s fear that it doesn’t have any internal support. That is not the kind of message you want to be sending to an already stressed mind.
One of the reasons souls are so willing to use bad therapy methods is that they don’t understand or appreciate how critical their mind is to keeping their whole system functioning. Your soul is like the passenger on a large boat, who is relaxing on deck, enjoying the voyage. Your mind is like the guy down below who is working feverishly to plug up a bunch of holes that keep appearing in the bottom of the boat. Your soul is oblivious to the fact that the boat is in such bad shape. Your soul thinks everything is going along fine, and it’s annoyed that your mind is acting so grim and stressed. No one enjoys being stuck in the company of a grumpy pants. When your soul starts criticising your mind’s foul mood, your mind snaps back that it has good reasons for feeling stressed and that your soul doesn’t begin to appreciate the pressure it is under. When your soul scoffs at this answer and tells your mind to get over itself and “just think positive,” your mind feels very invalidated. If your mind gets too upset, it might decide to that it is fed up with exhausting itself trying to keep the boat afloat with no help and no rewards. When the next hole appears in the boat and water starts gushing in, your mind might just walk away and say, What’s the point in trying anymore? I’m exhausted and no one appreciates me. I can’t see any joy on the horizon. I have no hope of things ever improving. I’m done.
That’s when your little boat starts to sink in a big way, and your soul can do nothing but panic as the water levels rise.
The purpose of this boat metaphor is to illustrate how vital your mind is to your overall well-being. If it becomes too exhausted, it will stop performing some of its daily tasks–tasks that directly effect your ability to function, focus, and communicate. You do not want your mind to start scaling back like this, because that’s when major problems start to occur–problems that you didn’t even know were possible because you didn’t understand how hard your mind works at keeping you tacked together. The sooner you realise how vital your mind is, the sooner you can develop sincere appreciation for how much it helps you 24/7. The more you appreciate your mind, the more you will treat it with respect.
Now the fact that your mind is so self-aware can feel like both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s fantastic that your mind understands itself so well. But on the other hand, it’s very frustrating to your mind that it can never fully disconnect from its own worries.
When minds use things like denial and memory suppression, it is the soul, body, and conscious that end up being genuinely deceived about reality. A good example of this that comes up a lot for my clients is the issue of intimate physical touch. When your mind becomes traumatised by an experience that was physically invasive, it always develops anxiety about your body being physically touched. Yet what I often find with clients who have had these kinds of traumas is that they honestly think they are comfortable with people touching them. Many of my clients are sexually active, even though their minds are terrified of such interactions simply because they involve a form of touch that is too similar to the kind of touch that originally traumatised them. How is it possible to honestly think you’re okay with something when you’re really not? Because your soul and body are being conned by your mind.
Your body understands that it’s not the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to identifying threats to its safety. So it relies heavily on your mind to tell it when it is in danger. If your mind doesn’t sound any alarms, your body will assume all is well. It’s important to understand that your body does not remember the things that happen to it. Only your mind has direct access to your massive memory database, so when you find your body seizing up with fear the moment you come up close to a swimming pool, that’s not because your body remembers how you almost drowned in a pool when you were a kid. It is your mind that remembers, and it is your mind that sounds an alarm the moment that pool comes into view. Your body then reacts to your mind’s warning. Your soul then observes the way your body has suddenly seized up with fear and it finds its behaviour strange. Why is everyone acting so stressed all of a sudden?
Remember: only your mind has direct access to your memory archives. Your mind is panicking in this situation because it remembers how you almost died in a pool, so it now sees all pools as life-threatening. It commands your body to freeze on the spot because it is trying to protect you by keeping you safe from harm. But here’s the key point: commanding and explaining are two very different things. When your mind gives a strong command, your body will automatically obey without question because it trusts your mind’s judgment. Your body isn’t obsessed with understanding why your mind gives the commands that it gives. In fact, your body would rather not be given explanations for everything your mind says because that would just be too much information for your body to deal with. Your body already has enough on its plate handling its own body chores. It is more than happy to leave the tactical thinking to your mind.
While your body is happy to let your mind call the shots, your soul is not. Your soul does not consider itself to be subservient to your mind. It considers itself to be an equal partner (if not a tad superior). So your soul isn’t willing to just follow your mind’s orders without questioning. It most definitely wants to know why. Why are we freaking out about the pool? Why has our body locked up all of a sudden?
At this point your mind has a decision to make. It can either give your soul access to the drowning memory, or it can keep that information hidden. If it decides to share the memory, it doesn’t mean your soul will agree with the way your mind is handling things. Your soul might scoff. It might tell your mind, “Seriously? That’s ridiculous. That happened ages ago. Calm down and stop focusing on the past.” That kind of response would be problematic for your mind, because then your soul would probably start demanding that your body unfreeze and go closer to the pool. Your mind does not want your body going near that ominous water. It doesn’t want your soul interfering with your mind’s authority in what your mind believes is a very dangerous situation.
The important point I want you to learn here is that how your mind anticipates your soul will react to it influences how readily your mind will share its memory files. If your soul and mind currently have an acrid dynamic, with your soul spending a lot more time criticising your mind’s logic than respecting it, your mind will be more likely to be secretive—especially in situations where it feels you are in danger. The result is that you will find yourself having sudden, severe stress reactions that you can’t explain. Your soul doesn’t like the feeling of not being able to explain why its partner elements are acting the way they are acting, so your soul finds it stressful and threatening when your body and mind start behaving oddly.
Now maybe your soul and mind are currently getting along alright, so your mind isn’t worried about your soul trying to interfere if it shares the drowning memory. But now we come to another potential problem. It turns out that it was your brother who tried to drown you all those years ago. Your brother has issues, and your mind doesn’t trust him one bit. But at the time the event occurred, your soul absolutely fell apart over the shocking immorality of your own brother trying to kill you. When your mind saw how unglued your soul was becoming, it feared for the safety of your whole system, because your soul’s all-out panic was causing a dangerous domino effect on the ability of your conscious and body to function. Your soul was even starting to talk about suicide, and that was not something your mind could let go unchecked. So it decided to lock down the memory file and completely block your soul from accessing it. It wiped every trace of it from your conscious’ hard drive, and one morning you woke up simply unable to recall what had happened. No one else had been around that day—you and your brother had been entirely alone when he made his move, but your mind has no doubt about what his intentions were at the time. To this day it is haunted by that murderous look on your brother’s face.
Now here you are, many years later, and this crisis with the pool has come up. Your mind has succeeded in freezing your body to the spot, so now at least you’re not moving any closer to those deadly waters. But now your soul is irritated and demanding to know why your mind is sounding the alarm that you’re in danger. What are your mind’s options here? If it shows your soul too much of the memory file it’s currently focused on, your soul will see your brother’s involvement and likely panic. If your mind tells your soul nothing, your soul will likely grow even more annoyed by its secrecy. This is a no-win situation for your mind. No matter what it does, your soul is very likely to respond negatively, and that’s exactly what your mind is trying to avoid.
In a bind like this, your mind might try to go for a compromise by only telling your soul part of the truth. Here is where your mind might splice its memory file and only show your soul the part where you are flailing about in the water, seeing nothing but bubbles. Since your brother’s face can’t be seen in that splice, your soul will not have the chance to panic over what your brother did, but perhaps by being reminded of the fact that you did almost die in the water once before, it will show some appreciation for how your mind is trying to protect you right now.
Memory splicing is a very useful tactic. Your mind always splices its memory files when showing them to your soul–it never downloads the entire file because that would just overload your conscious. In these moments, your conscious acts as the transfer point between your mind and soul. Your mind downloads its memory file onto your conscious’ hard drive, and since your soul can access that drive, it can see the downloaded content. (Understand that I’m being metaphorical here. Your conscious doesn’t actually have a physical hard drive, but the way it operates is very similar to the USB flash drives and memory cards that we’re used to using in this modern age.)
The major difference between normal memory splicing and traumatic memory splicing is that the traumatic memory splicing is a very careful process on the part of your subconscious. When sharing fragments of a suppressed memory file, it is extremely cautious about which snippets it gives your soul access to. These kinds of splices often contain a lot less information than normal memory splices as your mind tries to reveal as little information as possible to accomplish its goal.
So what happens when your mind shares that brief memory fragment of you thrashing about underwater as a child? Does your soul instantly say, “Ah, now I understand. You’re trying to protect us. Thank you, my friend.” Unfortunately, no. This plan of “I’ll just show the soul one piece of the file” rarely works out the way your mind hopes. When your soul sees the image of you thrashing about without any other context supplied, it is immediately alarmed. When on earth did that happen? How did that happen? Instead of backing off and letting your mind handle things, your soul is now even more upset and asking a lot more questions. At this point your mind regrets sharing anything at all from its suppressed file.
The key thing I want you to grasp here is that in all cases of total suppression and partial suppression, your mind is sincerely trying to help you. It’s not being secretive just to annoy you. It’s being secretive because it feels like it has to be–because it believes it is too dangerous to be honest and open. Another key point I want you to understand is that your soul can be behaving in a way that reinforces your mind’s fears about opening up. If your soul is already acting hostile towards your mind, of if it has demonstrated in the past that it can’t handle the information contained in the memory file, your mind feels backed into a corner where it must be deceptive in order to keep your overall stress levels manageable.
Fatigue as a Motivation for Suppression
Suppose you have a child who is severely ill and the doctor has prescribed a special diet which is rather complicated to prepare. You’re now in your kitchen, trying to fix one of those special meals, and you’re feeling time pressed because the doctor has stressed that it’s important for your child to take his meals at specific times. You’re in the middle of rushing about when you try to get a specific measuring glass out of the cupboard where you keep your grandmother’s ridiculously large set of delicate china dishes. When you start to open the cupboard door, you hear a bunch of bad sounds, so you quickly slam it shut again. It’s at this point you remember the earthquake that violently jolted the house yesterday and caused your delicate dishes to fall out of their holders and smash into bits. If you open that cupboard door, you’ll have shards of china all pour out all over your kitchen floor which will make the whole room a hazard to move about in. You don’t have time to clean up a billion bits of sharp china. You need to finish this complicated meal for your ailing boy. Unfortunately, now that you’ve started opening the cupboard door, the contents inside have shifted forward and are going to pour out the moment you let go. So you find some twine and quickly tie the handles of the doors together so they can’t open on their own. Crisis averted for now. It’s a hassle that you can’t access the few useful things you have in that cupboard, but you’ll just have to get on without them. You can’t afford to open that cupboard until you have a couple of spare hours to clean up the big mess inside, and right now you can’t imagine when you’re going to find that kind of time.
To your mind, suppressing a traumatic memory is like trying to contain that tsunami of shards that is just waiting to wreak havoc in your kitchen. The memory it’s suppressing is stressful and the whole idea of trying to dig into it makes your mind feel overwhelmed. As it tries to keep on top of a constant stream of incoming problems and demands from both your body and soul, it feels like it can’t afford to unleash that memory file or it will find itself blasted with a bunch of pain and fear that it doesn’t know how to deal with.
Psychological trauma occurs when your mind feels stuck. Spiritual trauma occurs when your soul feels stuck. Neither of your alpha elements wants to remain stuck in life. They want to resolve their stress and move on, and they would if they knew how. But in cases of psychological trauma, your mind honestly does not know how to resolve its distress. It needs help. It needs a fresh perspective. It needs some useful suggestions. Your soul is the ideal source of these things, but if your soul seems unapproachable for some reason, your mind ends up feel isolated and alone and that is very depressing.
The key point I want you to understand here is that your mind will sometimes suppress memories in order to protect itself from feeling overwhelmed. Your mind is acutely aware of what a vital role it plays in keeping your system functioning. It knows that it can’t afford to drop the ball or chaos will ensue because your soul simply isn’t capable of doing what your mind does. There is no substitute for your mind–no back up it can call in so it can take a sick day. The only way your mind can resolve its personal problems is to find ways to work on its issues in the midst of doing its normal duties.
It’s because your mind can never a day off that recovery from trauma takes time. You can’t rush through this process and hammer it all out in a couple of days. Your mind has so many demands on its resources that it can only afford to work on trauma issues in short bursts. Even if you could talk to a therapist for ten hours straight, your mind would be too exhausted to continue after a couple of hours. It’s just too draining for your mind to focus on trauma fears for long stretches at a time. It needs rest breaks. It needs rewards. It needs your soul to be patient.
Now in real life, it’s hard to be patient when you’re feeling fed up, confused, or even threatened by the way your mind is behaving. It’s natural for souls to try to step the pace, pile on the pressure, and force their minds to “hurry up and heal.” Force is never a winning strategy when you’re trying to help your mind recover from trauma. A kind and gentle approach will get you much better results. But what exactly does that look like?
I’m now going to explain a therapy method that I have found to be very effective in improving the mind-soul dynamic and in getting secretive minds to start talking more. This method begins with your soul choosing an avatar for your mind. This will be an image that your soul will associate with your mind–a way of picturing your mind as the separate, living entity that it is. Any image will do here, as long as it is one that conveys the following traits: loyalty, intelligence, perseverance, and protectiveness. While each mind has its own distinct personality, all minds have these four traits in common. These are your mind’s signature traits–key aspects of its personality which your soul needs to start appreciating if it’s going to improve the way it relates to its partner element.
Now in real life, your mind and soul are non-physical beings, meaning that they don’t have bodies that you can touch or see. They won’t show up on any kind of scan. They aren’t measurable using any kind of device that we know of. But they are real nonetheless, and they are two separate and distinct living entities, they are not merely two parts of a single unit. By choosing a visual image for your mind, your soul has a much easier time grasping how separate your mind is. Your soul isn’t just talking to itself when it talks to your mind–it’s dialoguing with someone else and most souls have never taken the time to really get to know their partner minds.
Each of your elements has its own preferred form of communication. Your mind loves symbolic imagery, so when your soul starts visualising your mind using a specific image, that resonates with your mind. It likes that kind of communication. By intentionally using your mind’s favourite form of communication, your soul makes it easier for your mind to communicate with it using that same imagery.
Now you can choose any kind of image for your mind. You might visualise it as a buff looking warrior or a mystical beast or a large guard dog that is always by your side. Your mind will help you choose an image to represent it if you invite it to do so. Once you settle on an image that feels like a good match, you can start using that image to do trust building exercises. Let’s say you choose the image of a large guard dog. To communicate affection to your mind, imagine yourself petting the dog. To communicate appreciation, start complimenting the dog throughout the day, saying things like, “I really appreciate how you are always looking out for me. I never realised how loyal you were before, but now I’m starting to get it. You’re an amazing friend.” As you interact with the image, be open to your mind using that same image to communicate back to you. For example, you might be approached by someone who has been mean to you in the past and suddenly you find the image of the dog appearing in your mind, and its growling angrily. That’s your mind manipulating the image you’ve both agreed on to let you know it’s feeling protective towards you right now and that it sees that person as a threat. When your mind talks to you like this, reward it for doing so. Visualise yourself petting the dog, hugging it, or giving it a treat. Thank it for always being on the lookout. Tell it you appreciate its loyalty to you.
Now remember, you can choose anything to represent your mind as long as whatever you choose feels like a good match with the traits of loyalty, intelligence, perseverance, and protectiveness. Your mind has extreme forms of all of these things. It is extremely loyal to you and only you. It is extremely protective over you. It is a brilliant entity and its determination to keep persevering no matter what is truly admirable. So this isn’t some average, unremarkable entity you’re stuck with. This is a deeply passionate creature who has been specifically programmed by God to be devoted to you from day one. You’ll never come across another human who cares as much about your well-being as your mind does. You’ll never have a friend who fights so hard for you, or who is so biased in your favour, even when they shouldn’t be. Your mind is your great ally in life; your companion who will be loyal to you to the very end. Clearly it deserves better than a constant stream of criticism and punishment. At the very least, devotion of this magnitude should be rewarded with some respect and appreciation.
Once you choose an avatar for your mind, be intentional about saying positive things to it several times a day. These don’t need to be long focused sessions. Just a sentence here and there, whenever you remember. Be encouraging. Be appreciative. Be kind.
Once you get in a good habit of saying something nice to your mind several times a day, you’re ready to take things to the next level by inviting it to vent to you. The next time you notice your mind acting stressed, focus on the avatar and ask, “Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you? Is there anything I can do to help you right now?” Ask once, don’t start nagging. In the early stages of this kind of exercise, your mind probably won’t reply because it doesn’t trust you. When you start suddenly being kind to your mind after being aloof or critical, it is understandably suspicious about the sudden change in your behaviour. You’re going to have to keep at it for a while before your mind will be willing to consider that you are actually being sincere and that you’re not just playing some shady game. When your mind doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering it, don’t press it. Instead, go back to saying something kind. Be physically affectionate towards your avatar in whatever way works for the image you’ve chosen. Say something encouraging. Be understanding. Apologise for being such a jerk in the past. “I’m sorry you’re feeling upset. I want you to know that I do care about you. I know I’ve been pretty rotten to you in the past, and that was wrong of me. I want to start being the friend you deserve. I want to help you. I’m here if you want to talk.“
Patience is the key here. When you have stomped all over your mind in the past, you have to work to earn its trust again. But if you persevere long enough, it will come around, and when it does, it will start talking to you more. At first it will probably be pretty cautious–only sharing a few things and then waiting to see how you react. No matter how shocking its revelations are, focus on responding with respect and compassion first. Don’t just hit it back with some judgmental criticism, even when you strongly disagree with its perspective. Remember that your mind has valid reasons for feeling the way that it does. It doesn’t form beliefs randomly, it basis them on logical conclusions that it has formed about real life experiences you’ve had. While many of your mind’s current beliefs are wrong, you’re not going to coax it into changing them by calling it an idiot or mocking its feelings. Your first response to anything your mind shares should communicate compassion and respect. For example…
- Wow I had no idea you felt that way, but your feelings are always valid to me and if you’re upset, that’s important to me and I want to help you. [Here you express surprise without being critical.]
- Okay, I can see how you’re logically coming to that conclusion… [which you strongly disagree with, but don’t lead with that]…I respect your point of view and I care about your feelings. I want to help you. Let’s talk more about this. I’m sure there’s a solution we can find together [use positive, affirming touch with your avatar as you’re talking here, such as a supportive embrace or an arm around its shoulders (if it has shoulders).]
For most of you, this kind of exercise will probably sound a bit bizarre at first. But I urge you to try it anyway, especially if you’re seeing evidence of memory suppression or your mind is acting very cagey with you. Choose an avatar and also give that avatar a name. Names add a personal touch, and they help our souls focus better.
Rest & Rewards
As we’ve learned, minds have several reasons for being secretive, and one of those reasons is personal fatigue. In addition to building trust with your mind by talking to it kindly and respectfully several times a day, another important thing to do is ensure your mind is getting rest breaks.
Resting your mind is a very different concept than resting your soul or body. There are only certain kinds of activities that your mind finds recharging, and those are the activities you want to make time for it to do, at least once a day. While taking a nap and shutting down your conscious entirely gives your mind a kind of break, it’s also important that you set aside time for it to just have fun.
Minds have fun by doing what they’re good at, and that means analytical problem solving. Your mind is already problem solving 24/7, but most of it isn’t fun, because it feels threatened by real life consequences if it makes a mistake. Problem solving only becomes fun for your mind when there are no threats involved. Good examples here are chilling out to a movie, reading a book, working on a crossword (or some other pencil puzzle), or playing a video game. Minds enjoy trying to anticipate what will happen next in a story. They like working out the most efficient way to reach a goal. The reason simple Match 3 type games are so enormously popular in the video game world is that they are fun for minds. In those games, you simply swipe a screen with a grid of different coloured shapes on it to get certain shapes to line up with each other. Once enough shapes line up, they disintegrate in some dramatic way, and your mind feels rewarded for its efforts. Then more shapes appear and you start swiping again to line them up That’s all there is to Match 3 games. They are utterly simplistic yet highly addictive because they are fun. They offer problem solving without the threat of real-life punishments. They offer a chance for your mind to enjoy its natural talents.
The more stressed your mind is, the more important it is to make sure it’s having a bit of fun each day. Don’t be stingy with the time here. Driving your mind hard all day and then only allowing it 30 seconds to horse around is hardly fair. By the time minds are showing signs of severe stress, they need a decent session of recharge every day. Two straight hours of play is a good goal to shoot for when your mind is very stressed. That’s two hours when you turn your phone on silent and remove it from your sight so you won’t have real life problems interrupting your mind’s ability to relax. Then you give your mind permission to chill out for two solid hours. But remember, your mind relaxes by being busy, not by staring off into space. Give it something fun to do. If you currently have no idea what your mind likes, start trying different activities that are both intellectually stimulating and rewarding. The rewards are very important here. Making your mind work at some impossible puzzle that it can’t ever figure out doesn’t feel rewarding, it feels defeating. Stressed out minds don’t need any more reasons to feel discouraged. Whatever activity you choose for your mind, it needs to feel rewarding.
You’ll be able to tell when you find a good activity by how your mind reacts to it. When it likes the activity, it will become engrossed in it, the time will fly by, and at the end of the session you’ll realise you’ve had a proper break from stressing about your usual worries. When your mind doesn’t like the activity you’re offering, it will act restless, distracted, and irritable. When your mind rejects an activity, move on to another one. You’ll soon identify some winners as you get better acquainted with your mind’s unique personality.
By providing both positive affirmation and rest breaks for your mind, you tackle the two main reasons why minds withhold information: fear of how their partner souls will respond, and personal fatigue. This two-pronged approach can only help, it can’t hurt. When you persist in this method for long enough, your mind is going to start trying to open up to you. As soon as you see it taking any risks in this area, make sure you respond with encouragement and rewards. You reward your mind by giving it an extra session of fun time after it’s tried to talk about stressful subjects with you. By following draining conversations with positive recharge sessions, you help your mind develop courage about asking for help.
To a mind that is already stressed, it feels threatening and scary to try to talk about what’s bothering them. Most of my clients are very nervous about getting on the phone for the first time because they are afraid that somehow talking to a counsellor will make them feel worse than they already do. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any rotten counsellors out there. But when counselling is done right, it makes the mind feel relieved and validated, not stressed and bullied. Talking to another human being about your problems can be great at the right time, but your own soul has far greater influence over your mind than any other human does, so it is vital that your soul learns how to improve the way it treats its partner mind if you’re going to make progress in any kind of trauma recovery.