I want you to imagine your inner life consists of two main elements:
Representations represent Reflections – they can be a simple shape, a word or our mental image of a person. They are quick to appear in our minds and in most cases we are quick to let them go. We may call them thoughts – but they are the kind of thoughts that lead on to other things.
We let a Representation come and go easily when it briefly catches our attention mechanism because we do not see it as important. When the Reflection represented has either already been fully explored or is so emotionally uninteresting to us we have no urge whatever to explore it it will flow through our mind without our trying to stop it.
A Reflection is an experience in which multiple Representations interact with each other. Each interacting representation offers us another journey into another Reflection. They form a 'scene' in which different directions are offered to us each with an alternative possible exit.
The result of entering an unfamiliar reflection is to find yourself in a state of uncertainty. This does not cause too much stress if the reflection is built around an area of thinking to which you do not have a lot of emotional energy attached.
For example, two scientists discussing alternative theories of particles produced by a particle accelerator may hold your attention for a short period of time. If they argue over the possibility of the next accelerator test creating a black hole that could swallow you and your family they may get more of your attention. If they tell you they are building the accelerator where your house currently sits well, it is illegally you will pay attention to much else for a long while. You may be particularly emotional about it.
In the above scenario you may select the image of the scientists or the image of the accelerator or the black hole as your representation – but what it represents is the Reflection containing information about what you expect to lose and how you feel about it.
Emotionally intense Reflections produce 'flashing' attention-grabbing Representations.
Emotionally charged Representations grab the attention of your unconscious attention mechanism and may enforce a compulsive response we would rather not have Compulsion is a physical urge to do something about the content within the Reflection.
We usually feel compelled to pay attention to representations when they represent a survival-related threat to us or trigger a response designed to protect something of value.
What one person regards as a survival-related issue may be different to what others do. This is why different Representations mean different things to each of us at different times.
A couple of quick examples of Representations / Reflections:
- college certificates represent money; success; respect; a life of purpose and enjoyment – you see this represented by 'certificate' – you feel compelled to physically go somewhere and do things to obtain your certificate but not to get the certificate – to get the things in the Reflection behind it
- a bullying boss representatives losing a big battle and getting sacked; blocked career paths; bad references; you being labeled a trouble causer; emotional illness – all this is represented by the image of the boss – on the surface it appears you feel physically assembled to go places or stand up to or run away from your bad boss but in the reflection you discover the true things feared are your own possible failures.
How Does This Information Help in Drilling for Emotional Wellness?
In obsessions and phobias we are quite often presented with the representation and shy away from it because it looks silly or unnecessary or we just do not understand what is going on when this appearance simple image appears with a very strong set of emotional responses attached.
The emotional response, however, is not really attached to the Representation – it is attached to the Reflection behind it.
A phobic afraid of lifts (elevators), for example, may have a reaction to the lift door (the Representation) but the Reflection contains information on how it felt to be helpless; how it felt to feel suffocated; the imagined embarrassment of having to go to the toilet in a lift if you were trapped there and then have your rescuers discover the result- imagery like this may lurk in the reflection and be the real thing behind the obvious image of the lift doors.
In compulsion what happens is the emotional energy in the Reflection 'flashes' at us through the Representation; telling us there is something behind the Representation we need to go into and explore.
By going through our Representations into the Reflections behind them and exploring their hidden meaning we discharge the energy within. We turn those Representative flashing attention-grabbers into just neutrally charged thoughts that appear for shorter and shorter periods until one day they severely bother us again.
A lack of understanding of this process can leave us standing at the flashing doorway to an emotionally charged Reflection wondering what it is we are supposed to do next.