How is it possible to get to a location that you have never or not been to in a long time in your life? Depending upon the location’s proximity to your current location and if that proximity is distant it probably depends greatly on how many turns, right or left and the overall distance. Well if we continue with the driver/car and mind/brain metaphor the same applies to how you can get to a place of control or quietude regarding your psychological life's location. How far away are you from being able to easily control your emotions and/or your overall mood?
I discussed in Drivers Welcome: Part II how Imagery, Auditory and Kinesthesia (or Feelings) could be compared to the road or the thoughts in which we use as catalysts for our thoughts and how our awareness of these modes of communication information can be likened to the sun or the headlights of a car. Just as a car’s headlights illuminate the road so too can our awareness of these three modes of processing information as communications act as illuminating our thoughts. Therapy can assist in becoming better able to bring your awareness to your thoughts especially the more negative thoughts, the ones we DON’T want to think about.
The next step is initiating a road map. If you or I want to get to a location that we have never been to or at least have not been to in a very long time then we are best to get a map that will aid us in directing us there. Again this is an area that a therapist can greatly increase the speed or shortness of the traveling but there are things that can be engaged to assist us in our solo travels.
A map would traditionally have some topographical features to assist in orienting the reader. The topographical features of the map of the mind could reflect a traditional psychoanalytic perspective: Ego, Id and Superego or Conscious, Preconscious, and Unconscious or it could even take on a spiritual connotation: Father, Son and Holy Ghost/Spirit if someone was Catholic/Christian or the Tri-Kaya as the Dharma-Kaya, Sambhoga-Kaya and Nirmana-Kaya if someone was more inclined to Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism.
The problem with following a map of any of the above referenced is that there is considerable educational or cultural background that is required to begin implementing the suggested directions of the map. There is nothing intrinsically or internally wrong with the suggestions of any of the information on these maps its just that any specific individual may think that one of maps is better or worse or not even have the time or background to begin reading them. These maps are very complex and demanding of both time and personal space.
The road map that I would like to suggest takes one component of all of these maps and transfers it into a generalized abstraction of them all. It does not simplify the complex nature of the terrain but it does de-clutter and de-complicate the basic direction of the route. The map that I will lay out in a later post will potentially allow the driver to drive! and to drive much more quickly and safely then ever before.
By Mathew Quaschnick
In the previous article Drivers Welcome: Part I I discussed how a person’s mind can be loosely compared to the driver of an automobile. The driver of the vehicle is similar to the mind a person utilizes to maneuver their own body through time and space, through the ultimately ever-changing environments of their life. Just as a car has a gas pedal and a brake so should a person be able to slow or increase the speed or control of their thoughts, which would be the road(s). Please do see this previous article for a better foundation regarding the metaphor.
How to develop a better ability to control and navigate your inner world and how you relate to your outer world is a key component in therapy. What mechanisms can be put in place to begin better controlling your emotions and thoughts? Well the mind is a very complicated and curious place but there are a few basics that can be generalized to almost, if not, all people.
Imagery, Auditory and Kinesthesia (or Feelings) could be one way to simplify without creating too much complication or dampening the awesome complexity of being a person. Nearly all individuals engage these three sensory activities. Of course there are people who are incapable of sensing one or more of these modes of being the important factor is their informational and communicational aspects—All people communicate and process information. These three forms of sensing communicate information to the person and this information is translated by the individual's mind.
A person may be thinking or driving down the metaphorical road of thought while utilizing imagery by making pictures to themselves, auditory by listening to sounds the create or feelings by sensing physical feelings they can actually feel. People will utilize one, two or all three of these modes. One of the problems will be that they will more often not be aware that they are traveling through their thoughts this way and then the brakes and gas pedals are being depressed or disengaged without their knowledge or choice, aka their control. The “gas” can be quite simply compared to a person’s emotions, but emotions are quite simply one of the most difficult parts of the human car to control.
The images you picture, the sounds you hear and the feelings you feel are all part of the way you experience yourself and make up the road you travel down. The major differentiating dimension from the metaphor of the driver/car and the mind/brain is that with the latter there is also the internal road or world that we travel. This internal world can be as, or more difficult to travel, and as we have headlights on our cars and the sun to help us navigate the external world, what do we have to assist us with the navigation of our internal world?
The “headlights” or “sun” of the external world is comparable to our awareness, which we can direct inward to illuminate and cast light on our internal problems. Therapy can assist in directing that light so it can illuminate parts of our minds that we were unable to illuminate ourselves because we were too closely and intimately connected. Or possibly we were to emotionally connected to the pain that keeps us at a distance from the problem so therapy can be a way of us getting comfortable with the topics and then comfortable talking about the pain, thereby illuminating and dispelling it.
By Mathew Quaschnick
Just as an automobile maneuvers a street so does your mind a thought, both start and stop, as the vehicle navigates a whole city so does your mind the relationships or dissimilarities between thoughts; both continue, starting and stopping until the final destination or conclusion is arrived at. The most obvious difference is the mind’s distinct ability to differentiate the external environment, a street or city for this instance, from the internal thoughts, the mind’s own internal environment, about the city or any other object it is thinking about.
Troubles arise when the automobile’s driver does not see the green light turn to yellow and then, worse, red. This is so obviously devastating in the real world when an accident occurs; similarly with the mind, but usually with much less obviousness. The street an automobile travels is often illuminated by some source of light, be it a celestial object (sun, moon, stars), street lights or the head lights of the vehicle itself, the mind can have very dark corners a driver is often unable to or ill-equipped to navigate and satisfactorily maneuver. This is when a person may have an unfortunate instance of having a mental or psychological accident.
The human brain could be thought of as the car in the above metaphor and as it houses the mind, the driver could be thought of as the mind. This car is the most complex object in the known universe. How well is it’s driver acquainted with its mechanisms, operation and required maintenance? This being known, how much more difficult is it for any individual to adequately navigate the roads/events of their lives without having breakdowns or accidents due to its inherent complexity?
Not only is the car complex but the roads taken during the maturational process can be highly treacherous and danger filled. The young driver is incapable and ill prepared to handle the obstacles and pitfalls. The barriers and problems that are encountered are more often than not inappropriately navigated and the aftereffects that are not appropriately processed or “repaired” leave the vehicle in a state of disrepair. The driver is no longer able to freely and readily travel the roads that inevitably continue to present themselves.
Therapy is a way for the driver to reacquaint themselves to their complex vehicle and then to better be able to reorient themselves to the roads that they not only must travel, but, then will enjoy, once again, travelling.
The thought within your mind is a road travelled by your mind. The two are as intimately bound as is the car with the road it travels. Unlike the physical road and the car your mind can take “flight” and travel down roads that are so far up in the sky that there has not been yet a physical vehicle manufactured that could reach such similar heights. This can obviously be very good, as when you find a very creative impulse or devastatingly dangerous, as when that creative impulse leads you into a dark space of loss, despair and depression. Distinguishing how to moderate and thereby appropriately navigate how you create your mind-space or mind-set can assist a person in traveling safely.
How does one travel safely? Well, as with a car that has a gas pedal and entropy producing brakes, so does your mind need countervailing mechanisms that produce thrust or momentum and then reduce or eliminate that movement forward or backward when it is necessary and appropriate.
It is relatively simple to manipulate a gas pedal and brake after a few hours of instructed application. The same is not always true for instruction and implementation of the parallel mechanisms of the mind. The way the car has been managed are ultimately the most important factors for producing, re-engaging or reacquainting the driver to their throttle and brake: how well has the car been properly maintained and more importantly how roughly has the car been handled, by its owner and by those entrusted with its safety, i.e. its caregivers?
These factors will play heavily into how easily an individual will be able to begin to right the direction their car has been traveling and a therapist can act as a driver’s instructor.
By Mathew Quaschnick
UPTOWN THERAPY MPLS
Edited and composed by Mathew Quaschnick
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MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY
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