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Nizar Taki MD

Nizar Taki, November 2 2019

Let Your Unconscious Be Your Guide

Imagine what it would be like to be a character inside a video game, living in the video game world inside the TV. You can imagine any character in any game, but I’ll use Nintendo’s iconic character Mario to simplify our discussion, as shown below:

Let's pretend Mario wants to improve his life and be the best version of himself that he can be. So he explores his world, analyzes its behavior, and studies the objects that appear in it. He gets better and better at the game, but eventually he hits a plateau - he finds that there are limitations imposed on him by the game that he simply cannot overcome.  Try as he might to look around the world to see where these limitations are come from, he can't find what's creating them. Why?

For those of us outside the game, we can clearly see the answer. The software code that contains the laws and limitations that Mario is trying to overcome is physically located outside of Mario's world. Where? In the Nintendo sitting on the shelf next to the television. But since Mario can only see and interact with the world of pixels inside the television, we could say that the Nintendo game system on the shelf (and the code and hardware within it), are located in a different dimension than Mario. 

Thus, Mario's attempts to change objects within his world will have no effect on software code that creates his world. While he can infer that there is something creating his world and its limitations, he has no way to directly access what it is that defines his abilities or limitations. 

In a video game with a specified outcome, limitations programmed in by the developer are a good thing. They help keep the game on track and make the game fun. But if a game doesn't have a specified goal or outcome (like life), then arbitrary limitations are frustrating because they hinder the players' freedom and ability to enjoy the game.

When we try to change ourselves or our life circumstances, we make the same mistake as Mario - we focus on changing what we consciously experience around us but ignore the deeper place the limitations come from. We may make our lives better temporarily, but if we don't look deeper than what's right in front of us, we'll run into invisible barriers, just like Mario. Those invisible barriers determine what is or isn’t possible in our realities.

Don’t think our world is like Mario’s? Let’s take a closer look.

Consciousness is everything we are aware of, which consists of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. We have no problem believing that thoughts and feelings occur inside of our heads, but seldom do we think about the fact that our entire conscious reality, including our sensory experience of the “world out there,” is also inside of our heads. 

Look at the nearest wall. Now hold your hand out in front of you so you can see the wall and your hand at the same time. Does it seem like your hand, the wall, and the space between them are all separate, in different locations, and made of different “stuff”? 

From Mario’s perspective, the floating boxes, trees, and his own body in the game appear to be made of different “stuff.” But from outside the TV we see that everything in Mario's world - including Mario himself - is actually all made of the same thing - pixels inside the TV. And the code that makes up his body is the same code that makes the trees and boxes, and all this code is in exactly the same place (within the Nintendo). 

The hand front of you, the wall, and the space between that are within your conscious awareness now are all located in your head and are made of the same “stuff.” Science doesn't know what this "stuff" is that makes up our consciousness, but you can think of it as our version of Mario's pixels.

While both we and Mario experience realities full of color, the color only occurs AFTER processing the information "out there," which is inherently colorless. Light is simply electromagnetic radiation of different wavelengths with no inherent color to it.  The color is our brain's representation of a light wave's wavelength (a wave with wavelength 700 nanometers is represented as red, 560 nm is green, and so on and so forth). Like the Nintendo, our brain is receiving  information (which, interestingly, can be entirely described numerically), and is processing it to create our conscious sensory experience of a four-dimensional world. 

Clearly, this processing occurs entirely outside of our conscious awareness. So what term can we use to describe where the processing occurs? It is the unconscious, and as the name implies, it's not directly accessible to us via our conscious experience, just like the Nintendo cannot be directly accessed by Mario. It is, so to speak, in a different dimension. 

The implications of this are huge. The self-help world is filled with books, products, and seminars to help people manipulate and change their conscious reality, but for the most part, it is devoid of information on how to understand and access the unconscious. I spent over 12 years reading books and watching videos to improve my ability to control my consciousness. I experienced huge shifts and changes, but eventually hit a plateau that I couldn't surmount until I realized the immense role our unconscious plays in creating our reality. 

When we are frustrated by an inability to take control of our lives, it's generally because we running into invisible barriers created by our unconscious mind. 

These invisible barriers are inevitable, inexplicable, and insurmountable if we do not take the unconscious into account in our self-improvement journeys. Sadly, most people seem to view the unconscious as an enemy, as nothing more than a repository of negative beliefs holding them back. Little do they know that the unconscious is like a quantum supercomputer, creating their entire reality before they have even experienced it consciously! Needless to say, it is impossible to create any reality, let alone the reality you envision without the help of the unconscious.

The good news is that our unconscious has been our ally all along. Even when it is making us act out negative beliefs, it is only doing so to bring them to the level of our conscious awareness so we can address them.

If the Nintendo paused the game to give Mario an opportunity to change the limiting parts of the code, it wouldn’t be very intelligent for Mario to ignore this opportunity, get upset and claim that the game system is holding him back, would it? But that's exactly what we do when we beat ourselves up for doing something irrational, then blaming our unconscious without taking the time address what led to that behavior.

In the next post, we will go deeper into how the conscious and the unconscious manifest in our personal development journeys. 

Written by

Nizar Taki

Next Selective Attention: Part One