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  • Writer's pictureJill Brocklehurst

Entering the Cave of the Mind

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” (Joseph Campbell)

Humanity is messy. Animals don’t worry about what other animals think or how to impress their friends and family. They are just … animals being animals. But we humans… man-oh-man! 

Our remarkable and unique ability to tell stories sets us apart from all other species. We have the ability to believe in shared fictions. Let’s be clear, we are agreeing that our stories are “facts”. But they aren’t… they are just stories. It doesn’t matter how many people you gather to argue for what you believe to be the only true and right way; there are others who will believe that the opposite is true. Both versions of reality are stories. Neither are facts.

Historian and philosopher, Yuval Noah Harari, wrote the following in his book, Homo Sapiens: "With the cognitive revolution, Homo Sapiens acquired a new outlet for the immense powers of its imagination - the ability to invent fiction. This unique human trait allowed our ancestors to cooperate flexibly in large numbers, creating resilient fictions to unite them - gods, nations, money, human rights. Whether factual or not, the stories we told eachother shaped our behaviour, laid the foundations for cities and empires, and continue remaking the ecology of our planet.”

I have set the table here with this premise, because I want to reveal to you that I have self-defeating thoughts. Lots of them. I am guessing you do too. Understand that they are fictitious.

One of the things I do to avoid the anxious feelings that the stories I tell myself bring up is to eat food. I eat when I am bored, when I am anxious, lonely, or when I’m driving around town looking for a treat that I hope might help me to feel special for a moment. I love how food makes me feel, and I realize I use it as a coping mechanism. 

About nine years ago, I came to the conclusion that I had to eliminate sugar from my diet. I use to say, “Eat dessert first, and if you are full, skip the main dish.” This method kept my weight down, but the sugar buzz was high. I was possessed by the cravings. The execution of my will… with the many failed attempts and the struggle involved in getting one full day in without processed sugar… was so challenging. It makes it easy not to go back. I was out of control. Sugar had me in its noose. (We are often our own worst enemies).

Author James Hollis has suggested that this kind of externalized behaviour is never about what it seems to be about. In other words, that which we see is really just compensation for that which we don’t see. Something inside is running amok. I understand this, and yet the pull of some stories is so great that I continue to use food to escape the details. It is Hollis’ assertion that fixations, such as those towards food, are all about what is missing in our lives. And so, my evolutionary journey continues.

Conscious living is about taking our obsessions out of the driver’s seat and reclaiming leadership in our lives. We are called to examine ‘the stuck place’, and ask ourselves what it is about. If I let go of my connection to using food for reassurance, what will be lurking in the shadows of my mind? Breaking free requires confronting fears, embracing discomfort, and having the willingness to step into a larger, more fulfilling life. 

The cost of not doing the work is great, yet it can seem easier to avoid the threat of feeling the lurking overwhelm, or lack of control, the fear of abandonment, or the lack of connection. However, to get unstuck from those things that possess us, we must make peace with the demons that lurk in our darkness within. (Trust me, they won’t bite… even though they may seem life-threatening). 

Real growth requires moving through our anxieties, maybe feeling worse before feeling better, and being willing to lose our “comforting misery” in order to expand into the larger life that can be ours. 

This expansive life, beyond the restrictive reality we currently know, is waiting for us to arrive. Let’s open the door to it, and walk through together.


Affirmations for Deep Healing:

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