That inner child who insists on a second helping, a third glass of wine, an extra hour of sleep. That restless nitpicker who tells us we haven’t worked hard enough, our hair is out of place, our opinion is all wrong. That internal judge who insists we don’t deserve the promotion, that new pair of shoes, or true love.
Who are these angry, jealous, faultfinding, needy little people who reside within us and never, ever shut up?
It’s your Superconscious and Subconscious, a concept that I and several others explored at last month’s Transcend, Transform, Thrive, a week-long women’s wellness retreat I hosted in the Tuscan countryside.
From dining on marvelous cuisine and watching stunning sunsets to daily yoga and meditation classes, it was the perfect week — and the perfect place to reconnect with our true selves.
So what is the Superconscious and Subconscious? The first refers to what some call our Soul Essence — that pocket of our beings in which our natural inclinations and most authentic feelings dwell; that place where passion, enthusiasm, and creativity organically stems. This part never leaves us, and is directly linked to our Divine Source, from which love, compassion, and forgiveness arise. The second is that part of our consciousness that develops over the years, that corner of our brains that’s shaped and reshaped by external stimuli like our environment and our relationships, to name just two. It’s referred to as the Subconscious because it doesn’t readily explain our thoughts and actions. With meditation and mindfulness, however, we can uncover its contents and the reasons behind our behavior, which gives us a measure of control over our lives.
According to the Theory of Pscyhosynthesis, a concept borne out of Dr. Roberto Assagioli’s research on self-realization and influenced by Jung’s life work, the Subconscious gives way to sub-personalities, those little people who grew inside of us to protect, sabotage, support, or destroy depending on what we needed under stressful circumstances. Those of us whose parents made us feel unworthy have a Saboteur residing in our Subconscious, a sub-personality who taunts us like a bully on the schoolyard and tells us we’re failures. Those who were raised in devout Catholic families often have a judge slamming down a gavel in the backs of our minds, creating in us an unremitting fear of retribution and condemnation and filling us with guilt for the smallest things.
During the retreat, we observed our sub-personalities at work. (I think of them as tiny soldiers, fighting for our survival). The process of uncovering of what is truly ours (those innate attributes that originated in our Superconscious), and those traits we’ve adopted because of external stimuli, allows us to determine what we need and what is no longer useful. For instance, if we can tell that inner, petulant child that we now have the love we were desperate for as a child, we can return to the center of ourselves. From this awareness, we can become empowered—and decide, fully and conscientiously, how to behave, how to think, what to silence, and how to live.
As I and the other women at the retreat face the challenges presented to us at mid-life—children who have grown and flown, difficulties in our marriages and careers, parents who are at the end of their lives—it’s especially important to recognize what has moved us and why, and which parts truly belong to us and which ones we’ve accumulated for survival and can now discard. Unhealed wounds take time (and therapy can work wonders!) but drawing a distinction between our Super and Subconscious is the first step in getting on the right path towards happiness. All of us at the retreat benefitted from this process and, by the end, were celebrating the rewards that came with it over amazing meals and equally amazing drinks.
Those sub-personalities? We left them in our rooms.
To see a video of the participants’ experience, click here:
Ciao for now and much love,