Recognizing When We’re Being Kidnapped by Our Machinery

Clues That We’re Reacting Unconsciously

If you’re unconscious, how do you know you’re unconscious? I’ve learned that there are clues that tell us that we’re being controlled by our machinery’s programming. These clues include:

  • Swallowing or tightening of the throat
  • Holding our breath
  • Tightening in our chest
  • Experiencing a loss of energy; going unconscious
  • Inability to focus
  • Starting to use humor, especially humor with an edge
  • Knowing that we are RIGHT!

When we see any of these signs in ourselves, it’s probable that our machinery is kidnapping our being and that what we are doing is triggered by the machinery’s response to a current experience that it associates with a past event. It’s also possible that our response may be hiding our fear from our conscious mind.

Some of these clues are physical sensations, generally caused by a form of anxiety that the machinery uses to push down emotions or feelings that it doesn’t want to experience. Every time my throat tightens or I take deep, sighing breaths, swallow hard, feel tightening in my chest, hold my breath for no apparent reason, or feel like I’m falling asleep, I know that a complex is taking over.

Pause Your Machinery

As soon as you notice any of these “tics” and realize your machinery has taken over, try this technique that I use to switch from automatic pilot to “manual.”

  1. Start to monitor your internal dialogue for misinterpretation and misinformation. Even though nothing may objectively be wrong, as long as you’re allowing the complex to control you, you will be responding as if something is wrong and you will be responding inappropriately. Being aware of this is the first step toward being open to your feelings instead of repressing them as signaled by these physical behaviors—your first step toward being in the present, where you can respond appropriately.
  2. Take several deep breaths. The most important tool you have when you experience any of these clues is to use your breathing to interrupt the anxiety that is definitely not good for your body. By taking deep breaths, you can consciously open yourself to being aware of your feelings and to expressing them.

Excerpted from My Mind Is Not Always My Friend by Steven J. Fogel (Peppertree Press), pp. 123–124.
© Steven J. Fogel