Walks of Mind

Illuminating What Goes on in our Mind

Please enjoy reading this walk. It has been created by John Cochrane for your interest and, hopefully, benefit.
It is offered in the spirit of one person sharing with another.

A Change of Mind

Ghosts of the Mind and Boosting Capability

©John Cochrane 2005-2006

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It seems widely accepted these days that when we want to make serious changes in our life or face significant challenge then the best place to start is often with ourselves and what goes on in our mind. But how can we go about changing what goes on in our mind? How can we get our mind on our side without going through lots of analysis or becoming a motivational expert?

One of the key ideas that we have already come across is that what we experience as our mind can actually be thought of as a series of layers or a large number of more or less discrete parts that may seek to influence our behaviour. Sometimes these layers or component parts may be working together, but sometimes not.

Before we look more closely at some of the bigger parts of our mind I want us to take a look at the general idea of layers of activity. We can take this idea further and use it to our advantage. In this walk we will learn a very simple approach that allows us to appreciate our experiences in a different and empowering way.

 

Types of Thought

Most of us know that, from time to time, we think envious or spiteful thoughts. Or we may jump to automatic judgements of others or ourselves. Or perhaps we imagine danger in everyday circumstance.

It is relatively simple to make up some simple lists of types of thought, just as I am about to do. By listing thoughts together in this way we are simply doing a job of labelling. I don’t want us to get too caught up in what the different types of thought may mean or how they fit in with a broader model of how the mind works. We are simply observing what commonly goes on and finding out what happens when we do.

In the following sections I discuss the types of thought that have been important to me, and I know from conversations and observation that these have also been significant to others. However, each of us is unique and each of us experiences thought in our own way. If you are to gain benefit from the words that follow you must look honestly into your own mind and check what is going on for you and which of these types of thought are important to you.

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Accusations and Suggestions

Self-accusation seems to be one of the most common types of thought. It seems that we nearly all suffer from self-accusation from time to time, particularly around periods of stress or confusion. It is my experience that self-accusation often sits at the heart of sadness and depression and can ‘separate’ us from much of the rest of humanity.

If we ‘tune in’ to our thoughts, many of us recognise that we regularly experience some level of self-defeating thought. I, for example, can recognise self-accusations and undermining suggestions as I am writing these words: ‘Nobody will want to listen to what you have to say’ says a part of my mind, or ‘You won’t be taken seriously’, and ‘You are wasting your time’. These thoughts can seem to me to be simple ‘throw-away’ thoughts, momentary cautions and fears, or they may appear as ludicrous invention just drifting through my mind, or they may hit me like blows.

And just as we accuse ourselves of incompetence or stupidity or any one of a long list, we also experience accusations about others. Self-accusation and accusations about others can come out in very subtle ways. They can come out in everyday talk and behaviour as little put-downs or cynicisms, slipping past our attempts at conscious control. We may not even notice these thoughts as they come out, but our companions, friends, and family at some level will.

 

Judgments

Self-judgments for me are very similar to accusations. There is, for me, one significant difference though; judgments appear in my mind as statements having the authority of fact or obvious truth whereas accusations, though sometimes vicious, seem unproven. I take in my judgments as fact but I often can sense the falsehood in accusations, I struggle with my accusations but I believe my judgments. Judgments seem to come out of my whole life experience and previous thought yet accusations seem each time to be fresh and new, (even though the same accusations come up time and time again).

Self-judgments are more dismissive and damning than accusations, they seem more difficult to deal with. Judgments come over as strong statements; ‘I am a fool’ or ‘I am a fake’ (each of us has our own versions of these) and seem so deeply embedded in our psyche that we automatically accept them, often without noticing.

Again, just as we judge ourself, we also judge others, automatically and damningly. Holding a judgmental attitude is very much like continuously blaming. Judgments give us a way to reject others, and so a way of hiding from the truths of them.

I have not checked to see if this happens to other people, but interestingly my accusations are often worded as if they come from something outside myself that is talking directly to me; ‘You’ll be sorry’, ‘You don’t know what you are doing’, and so on. My judgments are often worded as being owned and sourced by me; ‘I’m doomed’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I am a nothing!’ I presume this also reflects my tendency to automatically accept and believe my judgements.

 

Demands

One way that my demands appear is as a form of self-motivation. I demand of myself that ‘I must work harder’ or ‘I must be more gentle’ or ‘I have to choose what to do next’. Another form of demand comes out as ‘should’. ‘I should be more understanding’, ‘He should be more careful’, and ‘They shouldn’t be doing that’. When the ’musts’ and ‘shoulds’ start coming out it shows that I have a demand that the world be different to the way it seems to actually be; I know how life ‘should’ be.

 

Pronouncements

Now and again, my mind gets up on its soap box and gives me a lecture. The lecture may be a lecture from a pulpit, full of fearsomely wise words and sound advice. The lecture may be poetic and subtle, words delivered with a wry grin. The lecture may be straight and truthful. Whatever else a pronouncement is, it will use vital language to summarise a ‘truth’. It will be inspirational.

When I have a lot of pronouncement within myself then I may also be able to bring this out as inspiration for others. My use of language combined with my observations creates heartfelt messages that are strong within myself and will probably have meaning for others. Strong leaders and teachers of life may rely heavily on their own internal pronouncements to get their message across.

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There is, of course, a darker side to powerful pronouncements. If the beliefs presented by the pronouncements are false or misleading then the pronouncements are powerfully misleading. The power of the great dictator to enslave is recognised, the power comes from the words and the ‘charisma’ rather than the message. If we dictate nonsense to ourselves then we can become just as slavishly enthralled by our own pronouncements. Pronouncements seem to carry the power of emotional passion in part because of the words that are used.

 

Rebellion

I have always had a strong rebel side to my character. I know full well what is meant by ‘reverse psychology’ because I have so much personal experience of that in action. If I am told that something is impossible, or that I cannot do something, or that I have to do such and such, then part of my mind immediately gets active and sets out to find ways that disprove the impossible, or show that I can do, or ways to avoid doing what ‘I have to do’.

Or my rebel side may show up as a pattern of avoidance. I will find myself avoiding doing the very thing that I have set out to do, I rebel against my own demand for action! I end up with an internal struggle going on: ‘I have to do this or I’ll ….’ on one side and ‘But I want to enjoy my life …’ on the other. As one side gets more and more into absolute demands (and fears of the consequences of not keeping to the demands) the other gets into more and more resistance and rationalisation for not doing ‘that‘ just now.

Do you recognise any of this in yourself?

And there are other ways, sometimes less ‘obvious’ ways, that we can experience rebellion. Sometimes our ‘rebellion’ can come out as a desire to go have a party, as an invitation to go for a break or to have some ‘fun’. This form of rebellion appears on the face of it to be about enjoyment but when we dig deeper we may find it actually comes from an unconscious reaction against the situation that we find ourselves in. It is that Friday-night feeling, that highlights for us what is lacking for us during the week. It is that ‘I’m alright because I’m having fun with my buddies’ effect that covers up unspoken sadness or frustration at other times.

The common aspect of all these thought and behaviour patterns is that the rebellion is in response to something we think we have no power to change. It is a response against an image of society or authority. And from the perspective of our rebel-inspired thought, that authority is overbearing, unaccepting (of us), relentless, and unreasonable.

 

Angry Thinking

Hot Anger

Have you ever heard the term; to have your cross head on? Or perhaps you’ve heard someone described as being like an angry bear. I know that there have been many times in my life that I have found myself in an angry frame of mind, and not hiding it that well at all. We look at anger in other walks, but here I bring it up because it has certainly seemed to me to be a pretty specific state of mind with some characteristic thoughts that go with it.

Our cross-head thoughts are often about other people: ‘He’s not going to get away with that!’, ‘She’s an idiot, no way that I’m going to listen to her’, ‘Oh no you don’t’, and so on.

Interestingly, and perhaps beginning to show a thread running through this, the thoughts are much more about our expression of anger than the root causes. Our thoughts voice our blaming of others and our ‘right’ to be angry, and even though we may be angry about finding ourselves angry again, we do not automatically spend our time on thinking deeply about what it is going on here. Hot anger is not contemplative.

 

Cold Anger

But this one can be. Cold anger includes embittered thoughts, jealousy, and spite. Contemplating long-term revenge is right in the thick of this one. These thoughts are calculating and hateful, and if there is a place for evil thought then, for me, it is somewhere in here. I have an ‘Oh Yuk’ reaction to cold anger, the thoughts leave me cold and distinctly uncomfortable.

Both hot and cold anger are, of course, often the outcome of resentment.

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Ghosts of the Mind

Do you notice anything whilst looking at these various ‘types’ of thought? One realisation that I have is that we can also describe each of these as perhaps coming from a particular part of the mind, as if there is a part of our mind responsible for producing accusations and another for passing judgments, and so on. And when looked at this way I also realise that I can bring up an image in my mind that goes with each of these. It is a very particular image, usually a stylised and extreme image, of a personality that would produce such thoughts.

I have spoken with many people and asked them if they have a visualisation of their Judge, for example, and most have given me a clear picture pretty quickly. And each is different. My Judge normally comes out as a version of me sitting in an armchair with a can of beer in one hand and wearing an expression of distain. Other people have told me about courtroom judge figures or teachers or very angry versions of themselves.

So now we have moved on from the idea of types of thought to imagining the ghostly source of those thoughts. Each ghost is a part of us but seems to take on a very particular form when we imagine in this way. Each represents a personality that we associate with particular behaviour or ways of thinking. And each can give us a further insight that is key to this walk.

A comment on archetypes.

Some of you will be familiar with the term ‘archetype’ and will have spotted a parallel here. If you have, try to let go of those links for the time being. I am not referring directly to the Jungian archetypes, nor the archetypes used in diagnosis, nor even the concept of archetype commonly used in the media as a cartoon-like image. Though all of these are related.

I believe that these ghosts of the mind are present in greater or lesser degree in all humans and identifying them provides a very powerful way of learning more about our individual mind. However, the brain and mind are more complex than just a collection of fixed components and it is important to recognise that the definition of these ‘ghosts’ is an exercise in approximation – the ghosts are not real and I have no reason to believe that they represent particular physical parts of the brain, but they can give clues to our own behaviour patterns and those of others.

Imaginary or not, shared with others or not, I maintain that each of our ghosts is there for a reason. Each ghost has a role to play, and every role is useful. Every ghost can grow to become over-used and can come to be used in inappropriate ways, the ghosts can become undermining. As with other aspects of the mind considered in these walks, this is an example of where a useful quality misused can lead to dysfunction rather than support.

Seeking out ghosts of the mind that give us particular types of thought starts a new list that reveals much about how our active mind goes about its business:

 

The Judge – Source of Judgements

The judge is vital to me so that I can make assessments about my environment. By making judgments we can put people, events, and issues into a context that is meaningful to us. By making judgments we give ourselves a framework for making decisions and choices, and through our decisions we are able to interact with the world, we are able to live our life.

However, judgments can only be made if there is an underlying concept of law and if we gather testimony. A judge can only judge within a context of right and wrong, where evidence can be weighed up and measured against a scale of values. This is a context where there is an underlying assumption that ‘fairness’ applies. A judge is only required if the world ‘should be fair’ and judgments are made on a basis of ‘reasonableness’.

So, if I believe in ultimate fairness, where punishment is matched to crime, where rewards follow virtue, then I am creating a requirement for a judge, and visa versa. Our need to judge – to make sense of the world and to make choices – implies a matching need to hold life as having, and deriving from, an underlying fairness.

We can get into judging whenever something happens that challenges our unconscious belief of fairness, whenever life is ‘unfair’. So, I now recognise that when I find myself making judgments, and particularly critical judgments, it probably means that my underlying belief that life is unfair (and that it should be fair) is active.

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There is a direct link here to the walk on ‘life is difficult’. A strong Judge is likely to go along with a strongly held belief that life is difficult (or unfair, or tough, or against me, …)

In my mind’s eye, my Judge is a rather serious-faced version of myself. My Judge watches me with a clear and self-confident gaze, he has little to do with compassion.

 

The Accuser – Source of Accusations

My first take on the role of the Accuser is that this is the part of my mind that is responsible for raising cautions. It is easy for me to imagine the Accuser aiding me in a hostile environment – the Accuser tells me (or rather the prehistoric me) ‘Watch out, there may be a Tiger behind that bush’, or ‘Oh YUK, this water is green – it’s poison!’ The basic role of the Accuser is to question what we are doing, the Accuser is that part of ourselves that always questions and often criticises.

In fact the Accuser can become a stern critic, and I for one have found that living with a continuous critic for long enough becomes very undermining. The Accuser may become a very active self-critic, a kind of internal scold.

However, the Accuser has a much more positive role to play. The Accuser is also there to show us possibilities. The Accuser gives us suggestions for change and improvement as well as suggestions for caution. The Accuser identifies possibilities and makes these available to our conscious mind. The Accuser is a vital source of creative energy.

The Accuser, in combination with the Judge, can also seem to ‘test’ our feelings and intentions. In this role, the Accuser seems to be part of a feedback loop that, if the process is working as it is presumably designed to, helps us to remain focussed and helps us to be aware of our sense of identity and purpose. In this ‘testing’ role the Accuser will make suggestions, such as ‘you really like this person’ or ‘you don’t want this right now’. These suggestions are intended to trigger a response from the heart (the intuition or non-conscious if you like) or some other part of the mind. There may be an affirmative response, a confirmation noticeable as an emotional up-welling of feeling, and the Judge will then re-present the suggestion in the form of a belief. It may even be the Judge that provides the response directly based on existing beliefs and acknowledgements – ‘Yes, this person makes me angry’. Or, the response to the suggestions of the Accuser may be a denial or there may be no response at all.

The net effect of the Accuser teaming with the Judge is to confirm something about a situation or to deny it and to have this confirmation/denial happen in a way that influences our conscious mind – to make it part of our decision-making process.

 

The Policeman

The Policeman is the source of demands. The Policeman gives us commands and carries out the word of the Judge. Where the Judge tells us that we are lazy, the Policeman will tell us that we have to get active, to be involved, to stop wasting time.

The Policeman applies a rule of law, and the rule of law comes from the Judge. The Policeman carries out the work of putting our life to rights, of sorting out what has to be done and what has to be stopped. In my imagination, my Policeman is a traditional policeman, uniformed, unsmiling, stern, powerful, undeniable.

In terms of function, the Policemen is an enforcer. The Policeman keeps us on a particular path and drives us to do those things that we might otherwise avoid. The Policeman keeps us doing our ‘duty’, to ourselves and to our community. The Policeman has an ability to motivate, though as a task-master or slave driver rather than through inspiration.

 

The Pontifficator / Orator

A personal favourite of mine, not the Pope (Pontiff) by any means but one that is ready and willing to pontificate on almost any subject. I regard this one as generally pompous and sometimes given to stupidity, and yet this one also has the ability to enthral and has some of the most important things to say, and can spout rubbish just as easily!

The mind’s Pontifficator pontificates, presenting judgments and opinions in a dogmatic and self-justified way. The Pontifficator is the source of proclamations and pronouncements, the Pontifficator ‘knows’ how the world works, how people should be, and what the answers to life are. The Pontifficator has a way with words and can express ideas in a manner that attracts and holds attention.

When I hear someone saying something or if I read a book that uses ‘we are ..’ or ‘people are ..’ with much regularity then I will tend to believe that I am listening to the author’s Pontifficator, and (as my rebel kicks in) I can find myself tending to switch off as I know that my own Pontifficator is a suspect source. Similarly the Pontifficator can come over as a great orator in some people, able to grab us almost no matter what the message. I believe that it is this oratory side to the Pontifficator that some politicians use to great effect.

My Pontifficator is a slightly shadowy figure, dressed in black and hooded, with a voice capable of whispering or booming. There is often something of the voice of doom about this figure, and yet there is also a poetic side; my Pontifficator can whisper words of love as easily.

As you may have guessed, I have wrestled and negotiated almost continuously with my Pontifficator during the writing of this collection of walks. I have reworked many sentences to change them from broad and grandiose generalisations about the world to be much more specific. In this way I aim to keep more to my truths and to avoid presenting ideas in an impressive but inappropriately general way. Inevitably though, there will be many places where my Pontifficator has had his say!

 

The Proclaimer / Berserker

This is the image of our hot anger speaking and, for me, this one changes as my anger increases and changes into rage. As the Proclaimer this one appears in my imaginary projection as a semi-crouched, slightly dishevelled figure, always pointing (normally at me). This is the street evangelist tossing challenges, provoking with thinly disguised insults and taunts. Highly energetic but not discriminating, and certainly not compassionate in any way.

As the Proclaimer becomes more filled with energy, more active, and more vociferous, the image changes to a muscled punk or a berserker. Openly hostile, strutting, and aggressive, putting on a great show of invincibility and untouchability.

And there are some elements of this berserker image that give a clue about what is going on here. This is the image not just of aggression but also of invulnerability, an ability to act no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the adversity. This archetype will stand and fight, this archetype has no fear, this archetype will ignore pain, suffering, and good sense.

 

The Paragon

The Paragon is the one to look up to. This one is the image of the person that we ‘should’ be. This is what the Policemen will point to and demand that we be like and what the Judge will compare us to when finding us lacking. For some people this may be a pure figure, a shaft of white light or an angel, or perhaps an austere and utterly responsible leader. The representation may be one coming out of a personal fantasy or one that has been adopted from our parents or society in general.

This particular ghost of the mind is close to a traditional psychotherapeutic archetype, or to Freud’s SuperEgo, in that it represents a set of behaviours rather than a specific source of thought. I include it here because it is one that many people find they can visualise easily and which represents their own self demands.

I am not aware of a particular or strong image for my own Paragon. I may have several, each of which becomes active when I am with a given group of people; a silent witness when I am with authority figures, a comfortable middle of the road sweater-wearing man when I’m with friends, a rather aloof superior priest-like figure when I’m with strangers.

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Perhaps this is partly why I have continued to question, because I do not have a clear personal Paragon to live up to, only some rather vague ones representing how I should be to ‘fit in’. Also, of course, as the Paragon tends to be defined by our own internal demands rather than our aspirations, a strong Rebel will tend to counter the demands that go with the Paragon.

Personal Power Tip:

Our personal demands seek out perfection and will always, by definition, be beyond our current achievement. The Paragon embodies our self demands, a form of perfection beyond our ability to achieve. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to constantly behave like the Paragon.

 

The Evil One

The Evil One gives us thoughts that we abhor, thoughts that give rise to feelings of shame when we think them.

I guess many people would have this source-of-spite imaged as a serpent or as one of any number of film-style characters; the hidden evil emperor, a masked and unfaced Darth Vader, a slinking Wormtongue, etc. For me, I tend to get a weak image of a hard-faced man looking off into the distance, possibly an image of my father from a time when I was young and scared of him.

I call this one the Evil One because of the association with thoughts that express spite and revulsion, and because of my own feelings of discomfort and ‘wrong-ness’ when this one is active. However, I think that is also a clue to an important function of this ghost, it is able to deal with those things that disgust me. Ordinarily disgust is a motivation to avoid something, but there are times when we must engage with or overcome our own disgust and deal with the reality of the situation.

There are times when rot or excrement or an untouchable animal must be removed from our living space. There are times when we must pass through the stinking bog. This hard-faced character has the strength of will to do anything; perhaps not so much the Evil One as the Soldier?

 

The Profaner (Rebel 1)

Perhaps a brother to the Proclaimer, this rebel has me automatically saying ‘no’ to any hint from an authority figure that I should be a certain way or do certain actions. This one will make it OK for me to ignore certain traffic laws that don’t suit me when I’m driving my car. This one will have me getting righteous and indignant about my rights when I hear of another piece of new legislation coming in.

My youthful rebellions showed up as sloppy dress, an uncommunicative manner, and sometimes as destructive behaviour. However, my image for this ghost comes out now as a young lawyer, it is an image of earnest action and clever capability, a questioner.

This ghost turns out, for me, to be much more about questioning ‘authority’ than about confronting it. I can see how this questioning can feed directly into both the Proclaimer / Berserker and into the Judge and that once those are active some action is likely. But this is the one that starts the whole thing off. This one defines the context for action rather than pursuing the action itself. The Profaner tests preconceptions.

 

The Jester/Saboteur (Rebel 2)

This is the rebel that says “Let’s go have some fun!”. This is the sweet-seeming rebel that offers a way out of dullness and conformity, apparently a rebel without anger (a lie of course). This rebel shows up as a harlequin in my mind, wearing a checker-board of motley and dancing and capering. But when I look closely the face is not what it seems however, the smile is painted on and the face is white, it is a death’s-head mask.

The Jester seems to offer fun, a call to merriment, devilry, and the joys of chaos or nihilism, but actually represents a rejection of organised life, a rejection of authority, a rejection of being a dull part of society. In fact the suit is a fake, the harlequin is really a denial of life, a death coated in saccharine.

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When my harlequin rebel is active I find myself acting in ways that contain hidden self destruction, I eat too much and drink too much, I make choices which are separating, I act in ways that have reduced respect of others, often with a blind self-righteous superiority. Inappropriate actions at inappropriate times.

I have nothing against having fun, but when the motivation comes from the Jester the ‘fun’ is empty, it is an attempt to avoid engagement with life. My Jester pretends to take me away from situations where I am getting uncomfortable, where I have low-level fears running about my competence or acceptability.

What my Jester is actually highlighting for me is that there are alternative ways of going about life. Because of my own particular fears and beliefs this tends to show up as a rebellious reaction rather than a creative pro-action. My Jester tests my balance of choices between duty and self.

 

In Summary

Looking at types of thought reveals a set of ‘ghosts’ in our imagination and gives some insight into the roles that these play.

  • The Judge – Evaluates the world and gives an ability to make personal choices.
  • The Accuser – Offers suggestions and tests ideas.
  • The Policeman – Keeps us focused on our chosen path.
  • The Pontifficator – Maintains our confidence and confirms our ‘rightness’.
  • The Berserker – Gives us undeniable strength to overcome fear and danger.
  • The Evil One (The Soldier) – Gives us enduring will to do what ‘must be done’.
  • The Profaner – Questions what is.
  • The Jester – Suggests alternatives and helps us maintain balance.

And there are more that can be added to this list, for example:

  • The Observer (the Witness)
  • The Worrier (a speaker for fear)
  • The Guide (the voice of higher intuition, a spirit guide)
  • The Grump (Naysayer)
  • The Censor
  • The Ridiculer
  • The Visionary

This list can perhaps go on and on. I do not intend to present this list as complete or absolute nor even as representative of the ghosts that may be important to us all. That would be missing the point that these come from our own individual imagination and have full meaning only to each of us as individuals.

 

Dysfunction

Listing these in this way shows something else; we started by looking at types of thought and then looked at possible sources for those thoughts and imagined images to go with these. But the images give more information about what may be going on here.

It is clear that some, probably all, of these ghosts are mis-named. And it is clear that some, probably all, are working at times in ways that are at odds with their usefulness. The Accuser can become a scold rather than a suggester and tester of ideas. The Judge can condemn us rather than support our choices. The Policeman can become an oppressive ruler rather than a motivational guru.

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Re-naming the list in line with the realisations that we have so far gives us this:

  • The Librarian (replaces the Judge) – Evaluates the world and gives us an ability to make personal choices based on our own personal experience of life.
  • The Artist (replaces the Accuser) – Offers creative suggestions and tests ideas.
  • The Motivator (replaces the Policeman) - Keeps us focused on our chosen path.
  • The Confirmer (replaces the Pontifficator) – Maintains our confidence and confirms our ‘rightness’.
  • The Knight (replaces the Berserker) – Gives us undeniable strength of will to overcome fear and danger.
  • The Soldier (replaces the Evil One) – Gives us enduring will to do what ‘must be done’.
  • The Questioner (replaces the Profaner) – Questions what is.
  • The Seeker (replaces the Jester) – Suggests alternatives and helps us maintain balance.

And now the list reads very differently. This is a list of useful supporters rather than a list of underminers and misfits.

But how can we get from our day-to-day experience of the first list to having our mind support us as in the second list? I don’t want the first list, I want the second. There, did you spot it? There is a significant difference between the first list and the second in that I know, as I have known for a very long time, that I am in a state of not-wanting about a number of things that go on in my mind. I have long fought to control my judgments and my accusations, I rebel against my self-demands, and I have in the past concluded that my ‘intuition’ is not to be trusted – and the end result has been more judgment, stronger demands, and a great sense of confusion and doubt.

Part of the problem is that sometimes we fight to reject the very things that are there to support us.

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Let me share a key personal experience with you to demonstrate how this can work. There was a time when I was doing some work on accusations. At that time I was depressed and somehow believing myself caged in my mind. I was working through the self-accusations that were streaming through me, and realising that there were loads and loads of them and although they were all different it seemed that they were an important part of my ‘cage’. I had an idea, I wondered where these accusations were all coming from, and so I settled myself down and visualised where I was and what was going on for me. In my mind’s eye I caught sight of my Accuser, and I was shocked. My accuser was a dark and emaciated figure, full of spite and bitterness.

I recognised that this image I had, of this miserable and spiteful creature, this Gollum, was an image of a part of myself. And yet in my image, I was inside my cage and my Accuser was outside. In a flash I got it that I had built this cage myself and that it was there not to keep me in but to keep my Accuser out. At some point I had decided that my Accuser was not to be listened to, my Accuser was not to be trusted, my Accuser was to be denied a voice and rejected. I had rejected a vital part of my ‘self’ and from that time on my Accuser (and I) had suffered. And in that suffering my Accuser had grown embittered and stuck in a semi-juvenile form. The more I refused to listen to my Accuser the more my Accuser shouted to be heard. I had created a scene of endless confrontation and struggle by choosing to reject a part of myself that was vital to me.

When we view certain parts of our mind, certain parts of our ‘self’, as unwanted, untrustworthy, and not to be listened to, we trap ourselves in an internal struggle that denies resolution and produces potential dysfunction.

Personal Power Tip:

When you are in a struggle with your mind, listen to what your mind has to say rather than trying to shut it up. Use your imagination to create calm.

And the way to change this? Well, one way comes straight out of this visualisation process. What I chose to do with my Accuser, and have subsequently continued to do with more parts of my ‘self’, was to use the image I had. My Accuser had become symbolised in my mind as embittered and emaciated because of what I was doing to that particular part of my mind. What would it take, starting with my image, to reconnect with that part of my mind and get it back on my side, back as an integral part of ‘me’?

I can take a moment to visualise an imaginary landscape of where I am and where my Accuser is and what my Accuser is up to. What would it take for me to choose to come out of the cage and what would I find if I did? What can I do that will help me reconnect with my Accuser? Perhaps I can choose to accept my Accuser, to reassure my Accuser, to listen to my Accuser without rejection. And as I do this my Accuser stops shouting almost immediately. Over a period the image of my Accuser has changed from that wizened Gollum-like figure into a young man and then on to a much more current image of myself. My ‘now’ Accuser laughs and is normally at peace, and I get to know that I am supported by him. And I get to realise that he is no longer simply an Accuser, that he has a much wider role, he is a brother, a partner, a supporter, a tester, an Artist. And he is good at his job!

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When I am accepting of the various parts of my mind, in my imagination I am in a host of ‘personalities’ who are now attentive and have much to offer. They are working with me in ways that I never dreamed possible, in the ways that they were designed to. They are showing me ways of understanding other people, and they are continuously opening doors of opportunity where I have previously imagined cages and barriers.

 

Re-View

In this walk we have looked at some ways of grouping thoughts and of then associating these with particular imaginary personalities or ghosts. Each strong image tends to represent how we have made use of or resisted particular capabilities that we have. Each ghost gives us potential insights into the ways that we can think and behave and how these serve us.

Each ghost of the mind gives us an opportunity to change; to change how we accept ourselves and how we make use of our own capabilities. By learning from the visualisation that we have of each of them, we can change from reacting to pro-acting, we can change from being internally stressed and constrained to being much more open and free to explore.

 

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