"You Can’t Handle The Truth!", Or Can You?
For years now I have been trying to explain to people in therapy how there is a part of my mind which believes it is being protective by hiding from me things which “it” has determined are too intense, too painful, too scary, too anger producing, too overwhelming, etc. It is as though this part of my mind, which is outside my own awareness, is consantly monitoring everything that happens around me, and my internal response to those events. Whenever it feels that the outside event, or my response to that event is too much for me to handle it quickly and effectively hides it from me by pushing it into my unconscious.
The difficulty here is that it is my own mind energy which has been used to block my awareness of the event and my reaction to it. It is also my own mind energy which has to be used to keep this event and my reaction to it, hidden from my conscious awareness. Now, when I am young, and have lots of energy, and not very many events and reactions that “have to be hidden from me”, I don’t really notice the drain on my mental energy system, and the added weight of the unconscious material I am carrying around with me. However, after I reach my third or fourth decade of using my mental energy to hide things from my awareness, and I accumulate more and more unconscious baggage to carry around with me, I begin to run low on resources. I become more easily overwhelmed, tired, irritable, and inflexible because I have less energy to think through and respond to situations and events, and to process my emotional reactions to them.
It came to me the other day that I avoid looking at the material stored in my unconscious because “I” have placed it there following the conclusion reached by a “protective” part of my mind, saying, “You Can’t Handle This!!!” This reminded me of the movie, A Few Good Men, in which Tom Cruise plays an attorney in the military searching for the truth, while Jack Nicholson plays an officer who is hiding the truth. In the most memorable scene in the movie Jack Nicholson’s character shouts, “What Do You Want From Me?” to which Tom Cruise’s character replies, “I Want The Truth!” and then it happens… Jack Nicholson’s character replies “You Can’t Handle The Truth!!!“
It dawned on me that each time I hide something in my unconscious, it is as though I create another Jack Nicholson character who will shout at me whenever I am about to look at that hidden material, “You Can’t Handle The Truth of what I have hidden from you!!!” “So turn around and look the other way!” It is as though I have used my own mental energy to create a “guard” for each element I store in my unconscious and that “guard” is my own mental energy yelling at me to turn away from the Truth of my experience and memories and reactions. It tells me to run toward some form of distraction or escape, or blaming of someone, or something else for what I am feeling.
The solution to this false dilemma is for me to begin to develop that part of my mind which can monitor this process and strengthen the part of my mind that Loves Truth. Just as in the movie the character played by Tom Cruise decides to fight to uncover the Truth, despite the fact that no one wants him to do that. He fights to uncover the truth despite the fact that he is threatened with the ending of his career as an attorney, and possibly the end of his career as a military officer. I must Love Truth enough to face down that part of my own mind which screams at me that, “You Can’t Handle The Truth!!!”, and remind it that not only can I handle it, I have already lived through it! I have also continued to function in life despite spending a considerable amount of my own mental energy to keep that Truth hidden from myself.
Contrary to what I have been taught by the culture and society, no one else can make me feel anything. The Truth is that: “My reality is strictly internal, is unique to me, and is created out of my own thoughts.” I am causing my own pain and frustration, fatigue and overwhelm, by continuing to believe the false notion that “I can’t handle the Truth” and that I must keep it hidden from myself. I would offer that there is a way to live life which is much lighter, and more energized if I can only teach myself to Love Truth and test the words of the man you said: “Know the Truth and the Truth shall set you Free.”
“We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.”