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On Raising Two-Year Olds

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of April 17, 2006






these questions were based on the article
"The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious, a New Look at an Old Metaphor."


Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2


This Week's Questions


[posed by Jen F.]
  • What events/reasons create the subconscious at age two?
  • Can I stay conscious while experiencing morning sickness?
  • When a two year old recalls a favorite treat, is this memory coming from the subconscious?

Do you know?



[Question 1] When a two year old recalls a favorite treat (e.g. he asks for birthday cake to eat), is this memory coming from the subconscious? Did it require a conscious cue to reminder?
[Answer] Let me start by reminding you that the words, "conscious," "subconscious," and "unconscious" are simply words which refer to the degree to which we can visually access what is stored in our minds. What is "conscious," we have clear visual access to.

At age two then, most of what is stored in a child's mind is visually accessible and clear. This means most of what a two-year old child recalls is close to being, if not actually, conscious all the time.

Could we then say that the things which a child is not currently visualizing are being stored in the subconscious? Not really. Why. Picture yourself standing in a room and that you have clear visual access to all that is in this room. Can you see everything in the room? No. Why? Because to see things, you must turn and focus on them. In a way then, children need to turn and face things in order to remember them. In effect, they need to be visually stimulated, including when they recall a favorite treat.

Remember, too, that the visual cues which stimulate them may come from any source, including from real life, television, from conversations which provoke an internal visual cue, etc. Thus, it is these "cues" which make the child "turn and face the thing in their mind." Moreover, this is what makes it so easy to redirect children's attention. You offer them a visual cue, and they will turn to see if they are interested.

Finally, know that any sense can stimulate a visual cue. Thus, saying "Do you want a cookie" can be a visual cue, as well as the smell of cookies and the noise of opening a cookie tin.

[Question 2] Referring to a question from 12-26-05, I often ask my two year old why-logic questions, and the moment they come out of my mouth, I regret them. You suggest I don’t resist doing this. Does this mean, just realize when I do it?
[Answer] Exactly. And each time you realize you are using why-logic with your two-year old, you get to see more of how why-logic disconnects you from your child. And in doing so, be able to learn more ways in which to personally connect.

[Question 3] I am not sure how to stay conscious in a painful situation (e.g. when I am disconnected from the person I am talking to). What are some concrete suggestions for staying conscious while suffering?
[Answer]
Wow, Jen, this is a deep question. Buddhists might tell you to look into the suffering. Hindus might suggest you transcend it. My point is, I'm not sure there is a definitive answer as to how to handle suffering consciously.

What I can say is this. Although using why-logic to avoid suffering simply postpones suffering, some times this is a good thing. And necessary. Remember though that this suffering will always come back, albeit, at times, in a different form. In other words, while it is fine to choose to delay suffering, it is also important to know, you will face this suffering eventually, like it or not.

As for me personally, I try to use a combination of both actually. If there is little to no chance I will have an emergence and if I need to be physically present for something important, then I delay. I will also choose to return to this suffering as soon as possible, so as to heal, learn, and grow from it. And while I now see philosophical positions like "no pain, no gain " as mere Layer 2 why-logic, I also know that if we are courageous, we can choose to try to grow from our suffering. Frequently, we even succeed. It is just that we should not expect ourselves to always rise to the occasion. We are, after all, only human.

[Question 4] How can I hope to stay conscious while I'm in physical pain (such as from morning sickness)? It seems to me, shock protects, but it is also too exhausting to always stay conscious while in pain.
[Answer] The thing to remember here is, enduring pain unconsciously and trying to connect while in pain can both drain your energy. Thus, if, while you are suffering, you choose to zone out, this will decrease the rate at which your energy drains. At the same time, if, while you are suffering, you successfully connect to someone else, this will also help to lessen the energy drain.

Again, the key is balance. Also, asking someone else to initiate the effort for you can also be a good option, especially when your suffering is great.

Finally, remember, it is always OK to simply go into Layer 1. In other words, zoning out is always a valid energy management tool. As long as you also remember, zoning out simply slows the energy drain. It never replenishes the lost energy. Only by connecting, can you do that.

[Question 5] Why do certain recalled memories cause shock for one occasion and not the next? Even after having an emergence. I know about the exponential ratio of healing which takes place each time we do emergence, and I know about the helix image of revisiting a Block; that we go deeper and deeper into our injuries with each healing. Still, why does the injury remain?
[Answer] As you mention, because of the healing ratio, each emergence session heals about 50% of the blankness which follows the startle of a BLock. This leaves 50% of what you started with. The next session then heals 50% of the remaining blankness, leaving an actual 25%. And so on. Playing this out over time, there will always be some part of the injury unhealed, even after many sessions.

What part remains? The startle. What heals? The blankness. How does emergence actually change an injury then? It transforms the startle response, which is essentially an abrupt change into blankness, into a delight response, which is an abrupt change into amazement.

So why do different scenes sometimes illicit great suffering even after all this? Because the more closely we experience the original stage of an injury, the more likely that we will be experience the injuries which lead to this injury. Moreover, since all injuries build on previous injuries, healing one injury can often open the door all the way back to our first day alive, and to our first injury; our birth injury.

[Question 6] If you see two people together and one of them has serious character flaws, does the flawed person have to be universally perceived as attractive in order for the couple to, (a) be together and / or (b) to understand why they are together in the first place? Is it possible that person will only be attractive to the person who is with them? I understand the concept of universal beauty and that different cultures see beauty as being very different. What I think I miss here is that there are many qualities in people which we can see as overriding a lack of physical beauty, things which can to make him or her attractive to many people. Or unattractive despite obvious physical beauty.

Maybe I am asking this because I very rarely see myself as beautiful and assume others find me attractive for my humor or intelligence.  Is it because those things are so important to me, or is it because I am making up for a lack of self-perceived beauty?  I don't think I am clear on this point myself.  In fact, I have a headache now! :)
[Answer] Wow, what a lot of questions! Holy cow. Let's see. Perhaps I can begin to answer by first dividing what you wrote into separate questions and answer them one at a time. Briefly.

[Q 6] First question: What makes us see someone as beautiful? Is it something tangible, or something spiritual, or both?
Both. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Thus, falling in love is in essence a moment in which the beauty in another person emerges in your mind. Know this experience is never simply the experience of physical beauty nor some empirical beauty. Rather, it is simply that you feel surprised by the beauty you see in another person. Permanently. Moreover, this beauty can be anything, from physical beauty to an act of kindness.

Of course, falling in love, like all learning, is state dependent. Thus, you will have access to this beauty only when you are in the same state you were in when it first occurred. Fortunately, this is not that hard to do, given you know that this state is simply to be connected to this person. Thus, the renewing effect of romantic interludes and private vacations.

[Q 6] Second question: What makes people get together? Is it beauty?
Beauty? Yes. But what kind of beauty is the question. Some people see physical beauty as shallow, and spiritual beauty as the only real romantic beauty. Some people see physical beauty as amazing, and spiritual beauty as what you want in a friend. What I saying is, there is no measure for beauty, neither physical or spiritual or otherwise. And as you mention, beauty is largely a mirror of what the society in which you live says it is. For instance, years ago, I went with a woman friend to the MOMA. While there, we enjoyed a Rubens exhibit. At one point, my friend, who was a rather curvy and round woman, remarked that she had simply been born in the wrong century. She had a point. She would have been seen as a goddess then. Now she is seen as a weight watcher.

[Q 6] Third question: If a person has flaws, how can someone love them? Does the other person have to look past these flaws so they can be together?
Jen, if you love someone, their flaws don't matter, except on days wherein you cannot connect. Oddly, this is the very topic I read to you and your family when we celebrated your son's Christening. Remember? I read the scene on "becoming real" from the Velveteen Rabbit. "Real isn't how you are made... It's a thing that happens to you... And when you are real, you can never be ugly, except to those who ... "

No one is ugly. We just fail to see the beauty in most people. And a Shakespeare said, "The fault is not in the starts, Brutus. It is in ourselves."

[Q 6] Fourth question: How do I know if I am beautiful? I don't see it and think people like me for my humor and intelligence.
I have often wondered why the most beautiful women always see themselves as so lacking in beauty. So Jen, while I hope people appreciate you for your humor and intelligence, I would also hope they appreciate your dancer's body and graceful walk. And should you forget, you are physically beautiful, have but to ask your husband. He has told me many times how he sees you as beautiful and can't imagine why you don't see yourself this way.

[Question 7] What actually begins to create the subconscious at age two? Is it really just that children begin to label the objects around them? Is the reinforcement given to them to do this so important or damaging?
[Answer]
There is so much that coexists during this time in a child's life that to place it all on any one thing would be a mistake. Even so, there are several primary processes at work which lead to a subconscious.

For one thing, as you mentioned, at about this time, we begin to ask children to learn language, specifically, to name objects. In order to do this, children need to distance themselves from the visual content of these objects. Thus, by asking children to name objects, we inadvertently ask them to become more and more mere observers of their world rather than being consciously connected to their world.

The second thing that happens at this time is that children begin to accumulate BLocks. However, despite how they affect us later, at this point, for the most part, they merely cloud things. Thus, when children relive an injury at age two, they are still so conscious of everything else that these momentary blanknesses hardly matter. They flit by in an instant.

What I'm saying is, at age two, children are still so conscious that even when they miss seeing something, in the grand scheme, this barely matters. Except, of course, when the thing they miss seeing is potentially dangerous. Other than these times though, most injury merely lessens their visual clarity rather than entirely blocking it.

Eventually though, these BLocks accumulate similarly to how algae accumulates on the walls of an uncleaned fish tank. Using this metaphor, we could say that what causes the subconscious to develop is that the algae begins to accumulate and begins to obscure the view. At the same time, as this algae makes things less and less clear, our interest decreases. Thus, we stand farther and farther back from the tank, trying to get some perspective.

In a way then, we could say that the subconscious develops both from distancing ourselves and from impairments to our visual acuity. We could then say that emergence both cleans the tank and gets us to stand closer. This analogy, in fact, is very close to being true.

[Question 8] If we were to delay the development of the subconscious, would this make the child developmentally delayed, as in the medical model sense of decreased comprehension?
[Answer] No, not at all. In fact, I often wonder how a child's mind would be affected by extremely successful, over-protective parenting. For instance, would the container which holds the child's experiences remain vulnerable longer, or would something else happen. I'm not sure. My guess would be that like getting one's tonsils out later in life, that developing the less visible compartments of the mind later in life might have some pretty painful consequences too.

Then again, it might simply be similar to how people who get alcoholism early in life have delayed development, which, when they get sober, painfully, but rapidly, catches up.

Good question. I'm not sure.

[Question 9] Can we as EPs really teach in ways that don’t involve rote parroting to children under age seven?
[Answer] Yes. Very much so. In fact, much of what works for young children now already uses these techniques, albeit, intuitively. For instance, every Muppet character potentially teaches a child in the same way we do, by first connecting, and then by delighting. Perhaps you don't realize yet, but each time children get surprised by delight, they have just had an emergence. Delight without surprise is more that they are reliving an emergence than that they just had one, or that they are expanding on an already existing thread of similarity by connecting something they just discovered to something already known.

As for us, we can do this by remembering to make connecting the foundation, and delight the goal. This is the best way to teach pre age seven children.

It's not a bad way for us after seven kids either.

[Question 10] Yoga teaches consciousness and “being present” during asanas / postures. This is supposed to be learned over years. Emergence can do this in a moment. How do I cross the experience to everything else and teach this too? Basically what you do ALL DAY!
[Answer] Wow, Jen, I feel so moved by your asking this question. Very simply put, what emerges in you when you learn an asana is ability to personally picture yourself in this pose. This includes that you can go into this experience so consciously that your stored mental images become references experiences against which you can compare today's pose.

In other words, when a reference scene emergences, you can literally enter this scene in your mind. While there, you can feel, think, hear, move, smell, touch, taste; everything. Being able to do this is like you have an internal encyclopedia which, when consulted, can present you with any and all you need to know. What you sense, then, is what you ask to know. Thus, like fine art like the Mona Lisa, for instance, each viewing deepens your real sense of the experience, depending only on what and where you choose to focus.


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