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Get Out of Your Head


I’m sure you have heard the advice from your friends or a therapist to “get out of your head.”  You may have even said, “I stay too much in my head”, or something to that effect.  What exactly does that mean, Chuck? Glad you asked.

Borrowing from Jungian theory, here’s how I see it.  The human psyche (mind) consists primarily of 3 aspects:

  • The Conscious
  • The Personal Unconscious
  • The Collective Unconscious (for a description, go to: www.resiliencybhs.net and go to Resources/blog)

The Conscious

I do believe that all of our problems are in our heads.  Put another way, “there are no problems without consciousness.” (Jung) It’s within the conscious that we perceive everything through the sensing perceptions (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste), then we think (aperception) about the content we’ve experienced. This leads to evaluations (emotional tones).  This process is based upon memories, and these memories can result in feelings that are pleasant or unpleasant Mostly all our daily psychic functioning takes place in the conscious.  This is where doubts, worry, negative thoughts, etc. occur.  This is the conscious realm-our “head.”  The conscious is where we experience ALL of our problems.

Personal Unconscious

The Unconscious mind is the place from which our dreams derive. It is the receptacle of all our memories (forgotten or intentionally repressed).  It is made up of what are called complexes, which are emotionally significant ideas that can cause psychic conflict.  The unconscious mind is instinctive. That is, it seeks nature. Conversely, the conscious mind seeks societal and cultural (what others say and thing about whatever). The unconscious mind knows no problems. It’s childlike.  Children must learn to worry. This occurs in development within a cultural or societal context.  This process causes a widening of the conscious and is a playground for all our thoughts.  When we sleep, we are primarily in an unconscious state. We are not worrying. During dreams, the unconscious content tries to push itself into the conscious realm. Our bodies take over for a while, returning us to nature (the childlike state), and our conscious minds get a break.   I believe this is the primary reason why people use alcohol and drugs (including legitimately prescribed medications).  I also believe that people use other means, or process addictions (i.e., pornography, unhealthy overworking, gambling, fill in the blank______________) in order to distract the conscious mind from thinking (which results in unwanted feelings).  In an attempt to simply sleep (escape being in the head), Michael Jackson died of an overdose of drugs (acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication to be exact).  Many others have died similarly trying to escape being in their head. When dreaming, we experience a natural self-regulation of the psychic system. A lack of recuperative sleep leads to many problems (obesity, disease, etc.), but the point I want to make here is that it leads to mental illness (in extreme cases neurosis and psychosis).  I have deliberatively been working at going to sleep at 10 pm  in order to get the required 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep for optimal functioning and health in adults.  I do it more days than not.  In Army Ranger training (as well as other intense special operations training), hallucinations, due to forced sleep deprivation, are common occurrences. I remember from an undergraduate Psych 101 study where cats were not allowed to go into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep for protracted amounts of time. These cats took on psychotic behavior.  So, anxiety, depression, and other distressing psychological states, can be mitigated through “getting out of your head” by going to your bed.  Hey, I just rhymed.  LOL.  Sleeping properly my friend is a must.  

For the purpose of this article, please see more about the collective unconscious at www.resiliencybhs.net (Resource/blog link). This aspect of the psych definitely is part of the dreaming/sleep process but has little to do with the subject here- “Getting Out of You Head.”  So how do I get out of my head Chuck?  Well, you can go get drunk, smoke some weed, get some drugs, stuff your cake hole with food, get the Doc to prescribe some benzodiazepines, or distract yourself with unhealthy activities.  None of which do I recommend, and strongly recommend against.  There are healthy distractions (i.e., work out, bike rides, reading, movies, playing an instrument, etc.), but these too can become addictions if not approached in a balanced manner.  However, these are only distractions, and consequently only bring some reprieve.  Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing (I try to do it daily) are great, but are only a reprieve for getting out of your head.  The only true and healthy way of getting out of your head is a state of unconsciousness.  Sleep and dream.  I will write a companion article on practical ways to get optimal sleep soon.

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