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Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious
as a Lagoon

A Better Metaphor For Understanding These Terms

Understanding Conscious Subconscious Unconscious

The "Lagoon" of Consciousness

What you see represented in the picture above is a simple way to understand the terms, "conscious," "subconscious," and "unconscious."

Thus, what you're consciously aware of, you can clearly picture. And what you're subconsciously aware of, you can also picture, albeit somewhat less than clearly, more as an impression than a certainty. Finally, what you are unconsciously aware of, you can not picture at all, even though, at times, you may actually sense something is there.

Why make these distinctions so empirical?

For one thing, because much of our work in and around healing relies on having a genuine sense of these terms. More over, because most of us have been inundated with psychological terms for decades now, even lay people need this understanding.

What I find more striking though, and what I admit to having a pet peeve about, is how we sometimes mistake these three states of being; conscious, subconscious, and unconscious; for metaphoric characters with their own wills and motives. What I mean by this is that many people, therapists included, refer to peoples' "unconscious" not as a state of being but rather as the voice of some separate inner being, an independent persona who at times overrides our conscious minds and wills.

Is this true though? Is there actually some separate inner character in us who has the power to override our conscious wills?

I think not. In fact, I see this idea as no more true than saying that the fish at the bottom of the lake tell the fisherman where to park his boat.

The fisherman may sense there are fish there, but he himself makes the decision as to where to park his boat, even when he bases his decision on what are in reality, non-visual cues.

Said in other words, if we are influenced, something is there. This "something" is the content of our unconscious. However, saying there is "something" there is a far cry from saying there is "someone" there.

We are the "someone there."

We are the responsible party.


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