The Unconscious Not Just a Flash in the Pan


It’s amazing what the unconscious can do that the conscious mind cannot. Each day I find more examples but today it surpassed itself. I set it a task and it provided the answer in such a way that a lot of learning became available.

The Mystery of the Vanishing Water

I discovered a problem with a newly fitted toilet. I had only fitted it during that day and in the evening I noticed that the level in the cistern had fallen by about 50mm. This meant either there was a leak onto the floor, in or behind the unit the cistern was in, or it was escaping into the toilet bowl. I checked the bowl and it was completely dry. It was 3:00 in the morning and not a great time to check out the only other option that it had leaked into the room. As I had just spent two days replacing the toilet and the laminate floor because of water damage this really was something I didn’t want. From sleepy I soon rose to full alertness to check out the damage. Surprisingly I could find no sign of a leak and although this delighted me it left me terribly confused. How could about one litre of water just disappear? So I turned the water off and went back to bed for a somewhat restless morning.

During the following day I did many tests to ensure it hadn’t just escaped into the toilet pan and by taping dry paper all around the bowl managed to prove that when the water went down it wasn’t going into the bowl. I also checked out every aspect of the cistern and the unit it was in as well as the floor, leaving paper everywhere so as to check for wetness or even a tell tale drip spot. It was a slow leak so it wasn’t going to be too obvious where it was leaking. However it should have been very obvious where it was leaking to!


Now totally baffled by this, it was almost as though it was a magic trick as I knew it wasn’t some strange miracle. It was just I didn’t know how it worked and in particular how could water just vanish without trace. I must state here that I did a plumbing apprenticeship when I left school so the martial art of making things watertight has been well within my capabilities for many years. In twenty years as a plumber I never came across anything like this. You see part of the problem is that the cistern shouldn’t leak, not even into the pan. This however was a more readily solvable problem that would just need me to familiarise myself with a modern flushing system. The real problem was how did the water disappear and if I didn’t find that out how could I ever rest easy as I would always be waiting for the next ruined floor. In fact it was lucky that the cistern had leaked or the defect would never have become obvious.

As with my therapy work I never concentrate on symptoms, I purely see them as a pointer to the cause. So over to my unconscious. I talk to it often and just before bedtime I asked it to work out the answer as I could no longer keep chewing it over and expect to get to sleep. Just after 5:30 am I awoke with a few things I needed to check out on behalf of my unconscious. It was nearly there with the answer but just needed a bit of reassurance on some issues. Those investigations and a bit of checking on the internet kept me up for about an hour. I then fell into a deep sleep and awoke rather late with the answer.

Checking out the answer took several hours, involved taking out the cistern and the pan and setting them up where I could observe more easily. When I finally discovered the cause of the problem it was exactly as my unconscious had told me. It related to a fault in the casting of the brand new toilet pan.

So why was this so difficult for the conscious and yet relatively easy for the unconscious? Well apart from the conscious only holding about 8 bits of data and the unconscious having a hundred trillion data points and working 100 times faster: The conscious mind has preferences, depending on difficulty levels. So it really didn’t want it to be the pan or to have to remove the pan, it therefore tried to avoid solutions that included this scenario. It was also: very wary of damaging the new floor, wanted it to be something simple, obvious and accessible. It also had to be definitely fixed as any doubt that it wasn’t fully the answer would be a long time worry.

The unconscious had none of these issues, it only wanted the answer it didn’t care if it was a long, difficult or expensive job. The answer was all it was asked for – therefore all it sought!

It didn’t think what was happening was possible, yet the unconscious did, because with all things we can’t explain we don’t have a place in our head where that fits…..

Our unconscious works constantly on every bit of unfinished business in our lives. It works on hundreds of thousands of things so giving it and extra job or two does not over tax it. Everyone can tap into their own unconscious, it’s not rocket science and there are no hard and fast rules, just a simple understanding of how it operates and how to talk to it is all you need to lead a life you love….

Regards, Steven

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