If only letting go of harmful ideas and bad habits that masquerade as virtue was easy. When you’re the one in the frame it’s hard to see the picture. From unnecessarily holding onto childhood imperatives that continue to govern our lives to superstitions that disempower us – we often live our adult lives in the shadows of unconscious and largely unintentional choices made long ago for us by family or cultural conditioning.

I hear familiar themes in sessions that under examination make little or no rational sense and often cause tremendous suffering. A familiar unconscious sequence is: “Have to keep busy,” “Time is money,” “Money is security,” “Money will make me happy.”

So many unconscious rules of the universe that each of us carry as matter-of-facts and the way things ought to and should be – these are our sacred cows. There would be no problem except that they are often the primary culprits that cause so much friction and damage in our relationships as well serving to emotionally disturb ourselves.

It’s tricky to push back on people’s sacred cows, to question and to challenge them. This is sensitive psychological territory and it’s easy for people to become defensive around areas where they’ve invested a lot of time, emotion and to some degree – the sacred cows have worked for them.

Religious beliefs, paranormal beliefs, all the way to fairness in sports to political affiliation and of course – racial do’s and dont’s. It wouldn’t be difficult to conclude that each of us to some degree or another is walking around as a head full of unconscious preferences and demands insistent that others and the world would be better off just acting in accordance with our truths.

Much of mindful counseling involves discovering these patterns, the pain they have brought us and finding a way to both recognize and step out of these patterns before causing further harm. The only prerequisites I have found thus far are these: inquisitiveness, a desire for peace and an ability to laugh at oneself.