• Jesse Williams, LPC-MHSP

The Ocean of the Subconscious

How often do you get triggered into an emotion? How often do you have an automatic association hijack your conscious thought process? How often do you find yourself suddenly stumbling through the remnants of a memory while mid-conversation with someone?


You're not alone. This happens frequently for all of us. Our brain works tirelessly to find the associations. To bring up memories. To make connections. To slip in and out of deeper trance.


While talking.

While walking.

While driving.

While working.


For instance, think of the word GREEN. What came to your mind? Was it grass? A lime? A pine tree? A memory from a birthday party fifteen years ago? Notice how quickly our associations and memories flow, simply from a single color word.

Now, think of how powerful and attention-grabbing these associations/memories/thoughts can be when high emotion is involved.

And this dictates so much of our life, from what we'll be eating for dinner to how we will interact with that friend on social media. These associations, memories, and emotional responses pop up automatically and guide our very existence.


According to the findings within the field of neuroscience, researchers estimate that 5% of our brain activity and function is the result of the conscious mind. That means that the other 95% of our experience is actually the result of our subconscious mind calling the shots.


Behaviors, emotions, thoughts, associations, actions, decisions... so much of this is the result of the conditioning of our subconscious.

Recently, I ran across an archetype that I had never considered or worked with: The Ocean. In her work with archetypes, Kim Krans suggests that the archetype of The Ocean represents the energy and experience of the 95% subconscious and the vast unknown of the world of associations and emotions. It's the world that's below the surface of the conscious mind; the emotions and subconscious that lies deep below our conscious actions and decisions.

The archetype of The Ocean beckons to us to look deeper. To look at our emotional responses. To pay attention to the way our energy and emotion feels within our life. But deeper still, to look at our actions and decisions and reactions. And then to dig.


Dig deeper to find what memory was knocking on the door, what emotion was chiming in, or what automatic association kicked into high gear.

The Ocean beckons us explore and discover and dive.

One easy way to start honoring the archetype of The Ocean in your life is to paying attention to your own processes. Start taking note of when you feel an emotional reaction, when you feel triggered you, or when you have memories begin coming up. Write it down. Keep a list. Make a mental note. Then dig. Swim below the surface. Go into the realm of The Ocean. An easy way to do this is to simply ask yourself some question when you think of one of those notable moments of emotion, association, or memory. Ask questions such as:


"Why is this significant?"

"Why does this matter?"

"What does this mean to me?"

Explore it. Take time to sit with it. Experience the emotion. See why it's significant. If you feel stuck in the process, feel unable to break through the surface, or feel that The Ocean's waves are too dangerous and intense, reach out to a mental health therapist. The therapy process is an awesome way to begin diving deeper into The Ocean in a safe, self-honoring environment. Dive deep for the sake of those pearls of insight. Dive deep for the sake of emotional competence. Dive deep for the sake of feeling the archetypal energy of The Ocean.

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