It doesn't change a darned thing, but for me, it explains a lot. For instance, have you ever been shocked by someone else's behavior? You're getting along fine. You think you understand him/her. Then all of the sudden she does something completely out of left field. Something that makes you uncomfortable and feels rather hurtful. Certainly you have found a gap in your comfort zones and perhaps compatibility, but maybe you also have stumbled onto a bit of his/her pathology. A noticeable discrepancy between your emotional maturity levels or a sudden negative pothole from a person you thought to have a positive outlook.
Pathology doesn't recognize pathology.
Locally, I just told a friend what my blog topic is today and he answered, "Well you already knew that. Crazy people don't know they're crazy." Perhaps, but the people I'm thinking about, I wouldn't exactly call "crazy." In fact, they are people I call friends and relate to completely, up until that one incident. For me, it wasn't simply rewording a saying I have heard before, it was a sudden illuminating idea that moved things from the "I don't understand this" column to the "I do understand this" one.
Consider this. Stop a moment and take note of what you were just thinking. Put it into a sentence like "I was thinking I would like a cup of coffee." René Descartes with his "I think, therefore I am" has us confused. Rather than seeing our thoughts as simple confirmation of our being alive, we assign great importance to them. Perhaps even see ourselves as the sum total of our thoughts. Along my path of spiritual or emotional maturity growth, I have learned that I am not my thoughts. Simply phrasing "I am thinking _________," points that out and separates me from my thoughts. I have learned techniques to detach myself from my thoughts and become a quiet witness to them and the emotions that arise with them. That's important because not all thoughts are created equal. We have conscious thoughts like "I have to be at work today before noon, " and we have unconscious or subconscious thoughts. A long time ago I worked at a winery where the clocktower played music on the hour, every hour. Customers would ask if I liked hearing it or if by the end of the day, I was tired of it. I answered honestly, "I hardly ever hear it." We do that with repetitive noise. We tune it out. Subconscious thoughts are like repetitive noise. For many of us, they represent the worst things we think and have heard about ourselves. Things like "I'm not good enough and no one will ever love me" on repeat play in our head. While we are not hearing the thoughts or recognizing them, they are affecting our mood, our outlook on life and our daily habits and behavior.
That's why techniques which shift an individual to a position of an observer of his/her thoughts are important. Habitually taking note of your emotional and mental state shines a light on those subconscious thoughts.
You know what they say.
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
When we make the subconscious conscious, we have taken an important step towards changing our lives. We no longer are slaves to limiting beliefs or detrimental thought patterns we acquired along the way. We become aware of their existence and that knowledge allows us to take responsibility. We are no longer an oblivious victim.
Sometimes when we are in a state of unease, we have racing thoughts. The situation, combined with our thoughts, creates a sense of urgency. It keeps us up nights or causes us to keep arguing with a friend, desperate to explain our point of view. In those moments, we are overly identified with our thoughts. Completely trapped within our own head. There are techniques to interrupt racing thoughts, but you have to have gained a level of awareness that they are there in the first place.
Pathology doesn't recognize pathology.
Framed in this way, I feel I can finally understand. I have been there. I have been an oblivious victim of my subconscious thoughts myself. I have said things and taken actions that would be uncharacteristic of me, had I not been racing the rabbit holes of fear in my mind. Framed in this way, I can find empathy for people whose behavior shocks, hurts or offends me. In fact, I can understand the wisdom of never looking to be offended because people's actions are never actually about me. They are about the state of the union in their own head.