The tree: what we see, or ‘know’
We see a tree… and maybe we hear it, taste, smell or feel it. We see how it moves, changes, sounds; and maybe we feel like we know it.
In therapy we can look at all that… and it’s not a bad idea, to see how we see ourselves whether in hibernation or full sway, moist or dry, green or brown.
But as we know from those lovely pictures like this one, that’s half the story: there’s another chunk below those branches and leaves.
We are occupied – and many of us very busy – doing our life right here, right now, and whilst we like to think we have some control over our daily decisions, actions and words, the past that we experienced all those years ago a) influences us, and b) supports us.
Some folks say: ‘I don’t want to dwell in the past’. Well, neither do I!
What’s helpful in therapy is to acknowledge and explore the past in the safety of the therapy room: it can help us not only understand who we are but moreover avoid trying to push it away, a futile pursuit.
Yes, you’ve got one! The tantalising beauty of the unconscious is that it is never fully ‘understandable’ or ‘nailed’. It pops up in dreams, slips of the tongue (‘I mis-spoke’, oops!), mannerisms, artistic expression, and in altered states due to breathing exercises, near-death experiences and shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies.
If you see me I can promise you I won’t be continually talking about the unconscious (aka subconscious): we’ll never have it cracked anyway. But it crops up in relationship (including between me and anyone I meet) whether we like it or not.
I have found it useful for me to think about it, speculate, make friends with it: it’s sometimes funny, sometimes dark, sometimes fleeting, sometimes… like tree roots hidden down in the soil.