19 — What Influences You?

What influences you in your life? What are the influences that you’re conscious of? Perhaps more importantly, what are the influences you’re not conscious of? The ones you’re conscious of are generally those you’ve thought through, or had an emotional reaction to or about, or that have come explicitly from friends or colleagues, or that you’ve read—for example, a book to read, a movie to see, or clothes to buy. These are all conscious choices, and because they’re conscious, you have the option of allowing them to influence you, or not.

But the unconscious choices give you no such option! For example, what about that unexplained fear of heights? Or, more insidiously, your opinions of those on welfare or who work in government jobs? Where did those opinions come from? Are these conscious decisions? Were your views influenced by your parents or grandparents, by your political affiliations, by those you associate with? Or, do you even know anymore why you “believe” what you believe?

For me, this is troubling! Let me explain what I mean. If I have an opinion or belief about something or someone, but I’m not sure where that opinion or belief came from, then I’ve lost an opportunity to make a conscious choice that might be much more life-enhancing—for me and for the other. In fact, any position you’ve taken or belief or opinion you have has limited your choices—no matter how small.

So, what are the sources of all these subconscious decisions, choices, beliefs, and opinions?

What if we were free to make choices in each moment of the day? How would that change your life? Would it be more stressful or less? Your mind will tell you it will be much more stressful; just let it (your mind) have all its prior decisions, choices, beliefs, and opinions, and these “shortcuts” will make your life so much simpler.

But, what if the mind were “lying” to you? What if there are many influences that not only are “shortcuts,” but that also drive you to actions that are ultimately not in your best interest, or the best interests of those dependent on you? Moreover, what if you had no idea these influences were present in your life and actions, so they gave you no choice as to how to react in actions or speech? In other words, they deprived you of making choices in the moment that might lead to a higher quality of life and living for you and those around you?

There are four key areas of work that I’d like to refer to to help understand better what the influences are in our lives. These are the works of C. G. Jung and his theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious,  David Bohm and his theory of explicate and implicate orders, Rupert Sheldrakes work on morphogenetic fields (also called morphogenic fields), and David Hawkins work on power vs. force as determinants of human behavior.

To go into all of these—or any of them—is far beyond the scope of this blog, so I’ll try to summarize my sense of what all of these refer to. The first three (Jung, Bohm, and Sheldrake) essentially describe frameworks of the unconscious in which we all exist and are influenced. Hawkins work, on the other hand, characterizes the level of influence the elements of these frameworks have on each of us, depending on where we exist on the Hawkins Power v. Force scale of conscious.

What Jung, Bohm and Sheldrake are saying is that we all live in these fields of influence which exist in the collective unconscious, and to the degree with which we resonate with these fields, they influence us proportionately. We all contribute to the creation of these fields by our thoughts, mixed with all the other thoughts of everyone who has ever existed. The fields are always growing, shifting, evolving according to the thoughts flowing through the Universe.

These fields of the collective unconscious exist for all manner of thought collections: religions, nations, ethnicity, shared experiences (slavery and the holocaust are two big ones), political party, environmental group, favorite sports team, town or state, part of the country in which you live, etc. If you resonate with certain fields (or they resonate with you), you are influenced by the collection of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and values that are inherent in that field.

For example, if you have thoughts or ideas about small government, or fears of being controlled by your government, or other ideas of this sort, you might resonate with the constellation of beliefs that have now come to be known as Tea Partiers. Because of this resonance, you may be subject to the many other collective beliefs that seem to belong to this one group. And, you may not even be aware that you have adopted a larger set of beliefs than those which you’ve consciously thought about.

How do you feel about having adopted thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and values that may not be your own, but that you’ve bought into because of a resonance with a constellation of these that you’ve resonated with? In my experience, it doesn’t feel very good!

So, what do you do about surfacing these and countering their influence? David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force scale gives us a powerful “antidote,” namely, raise your level of consciousness! The higher you are on Hawkins’ scale (i.e., the higher your overall level of consciousness), the less likely you will be influenced by these “hidden” aspects of the collective unconsciousness—and the more likely you will be aware of these forces and their impact on you.

If you’re already on a path of spiritual growth, you are moving up Hawkins’ scale, whether you believe it or not! Whether or not you believe you are on a spiritual path, we all are to varying degrees. In either case, a place to start surfacing these underlying thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and values is to ask yourself, “Why do I believe this about that event or person or …? If I don’t know, then what are alternative beliefs I could have about that event or person? What would I have to know to have a different belief about that?”

A very simple example: You’re driving along on the freeway and approaching an exit ramp. All of a sudden a car comes up fast on your left and then cuts directly in front of you and swings all the way over to the exit ramp. A normal reaction might be to get angry, curse at the driver, call them names, and make obscene gestures at him or her. How could they be so stupid? But, what if you knew that the passenger in the car was having a heart attack and the driver just saw the sign for the nearest hospital at that exit? How would you feel about the driver at that point? What happened to your anger and beliefs about how “stupid” they were?

Perhaps this is too obvious an example, but it probably does hit home with you; you’ve probably experienced many situations like this if you think back through time. It does serve the purpose of illustrating how fixed positions and beliefs can be so dramatically wrong.

Hopefully it also serves as a motivator for you to begin to question why you think as you do and to seek ways of creating larger spaces of choice for yourself and those around you.

I think there’s more to be said here, so this blog entry will undoubtedly evolve over the next few days.

What are your thoughts on this? Let’s here from you, as well!