The Cunning Unconscious

There’s actually nothing more cunning than the human unconscious.  That’s right, the unconscious. The things hidden in there are part of our psychological make-up, part of who we intrinsically are, but they want to, and generally can, remain completely hidden from our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, that does not mean we’re free of them. It just means that we can’t see them in ourselves, that we can only see them in other people.

Here’s the General Rule, Part I:  if there are some things you just can’t stand to admit about yourself, if you just can’t face some of your own stuff, then you’re going to see your own stuff on someone else’s face.

Guaranteed. Intrinsic parts of your being are not just going to disappear because you’re too embarrassed to acknowledge them. In fact, the reverse actually happens. The longer you fail to acknowledge certain qualities in yourself, the more you’ll see those qualities in other people. And those other people will look more and more awful to you as time goes by.

Let’s say I’m acting like a monster: all pissed off for no discernible reason. Maybe I’m stomping around blaming what’s happening to me on someone else, even if it’s obvious that I caused the problem. Or maybe I’m muttering under my breath about how out of it someone else is, without being able to hear how out of it I sound.

Muttering monsters aren’t just stupid and vindictive. They can only hear in certain frequencies, and can hardly see at all out of those little glaring eyes set way back in their heads.stupid-ugly-monster

So when I’m in muttering monster mode I can’t really see or hear what I’m doing. I can’t stop to wonder where all this ill will is coming from, or what such a habit says about me, or make any effort to snap out of it, and I certainly don’t look for a solution to whatever problem I’m muttering about.

Hell, no. I just ‘blame on’ until I run out of steam. Like it’s OK. Like it doesn’t matter. Like it’s not important. And hey, it’s totally normal anyway. Everybody does it! If someone I wanted to impress came over I could cover up my muttering monster with a big ole smile.

Or, I could be one of those people who don’t actually do much of their own original muttering. Maybe I let talk show hosts do most of my muttering for me. Maybe I’m one of those people who tune in to certain stations just so they can gloat and cheer while someone else says really monstrous things. If that eternal belly aching, fault finding, fact twisting, finger pointing, shockingly unfair running down of those who deign to disagree with me is only coming from talk show hosts, then I’m not really a monster, am I? Just because I listen to those stations?

Yep. Afraid so. Muttering monsters aren’t that easy to disown. They’re just as pathetically desperate for attention as everything else in my shadow. In fact, muttering monsters are so pathetically desperate for attention that the better I get at pretending I don’t have any monstrous thoughts myself, the more monstrous everyone else will look.

Kind of explains why we hear so much ranting and raving over the airways, doesn’t it? Why it’s so easy for us to get all hot and bothered about what someone else is doing… why we’re so attracted to vicious speculation and hateful gossip… why we just can’t seem to get off of certain subjects…

General Rule, Part II: we dwell on what others are doing to keep from having to look at what we’re up to ourselves.


“Hate has a lot in common with love, chiefly with that self-transcending aspect of love, the fixation on others, the dependence on them, and in fact the delegation of a piece of one’s own identity to them… the hater longs for the object of his hatred.”–Vaclav Havel