Reclaiming Our Minds

Re-evaluation Counseling takes the radical step of trusting in human minds, all human minds, more than any other endeavor of which I am aware.

Our minds work well and specifically. Your mind is the expert on your life. I cannot hope to understand your life well enough to make choices for you. Only you have that total grasp on your life. Regrettably, our minds have not been respected throughout our lives, so it can be difficult for us to fully appreciate how smart we are or how smart others are.

Our minds are always recording our experiences. In each moment, when we are thinking, we compare the current situation to the past and also contrast it. We then use all that information to come up with a way to act in the current situation that makes sense to us.

Sometimes we are rigidly constrained by our past rather than informed by it; we feel as if we have no choice about how to behave. Our minds can become confused or be made to forget by painful things that have happened to us. Imagine what your life would be like if you did not have to struggle with forgetting. Bigger than not misplacing your keys, you could remember your decisions, remember your passions, remember your truths, and remember learning Spanish in high school. We are vastly lucky to be able to use the discharge process, inherent but underdeveloped, to reclaim our minds from confusion and forgetting.

When we were young, even though our minds were relatively accessible to us, we did not have a lot of information about the world. Further, our discharge process was interrupted so that we could not completely use our minds to understand what had happened to us. So we developed rigid behaviors and ways of thinking to help us survive—patterns to protect us from dogs (because some are dangerous), patterns to keep us from ever feeling humiliated again, patterns that made us trade bits of our humanity for not getting hurt the way we were hurt back then or for getting some advantage (oppressor material, I’m looking at you). All those patterns helped us survive; they were the best solution we could come up with, and they worked well enough.
Our situation is different now, and expressing that to the client is part of the role of the counselor. We have information we did not have before, both from life experience and from RC theory. For example, if we forget now that people are always doing the best they can, we can remember RC theory and be sure of it.

Also different now is that we in RC have been reclaiming the ability to connect with one another. When I am connected with my counselor, I do not feel alone. We have recently begun to hypothesize that nothing can overwhelm or defeat us or be too much for our minds to handle if we can notice that another human intelligence is on our side. Humiliation, terror, and grief can be survived if we have someone in there with us. (When we were new, we looked out in the world to see if someone like us was there to connect with; initially we suspected there was, but mostly we were defeated.)

One of my learnings from my Intensive was that I had thought my patterns protected me. Now I know that I can use my mind to keep me safer than my patterns can. I can notice what is going on. I can then take specific actions to protect myself and bring other minds along with me to face the hard parts. This means that I can protect myself from dog attacks not by holding back from all dogs (the patterned way) but by using my mind to notice when it is appropriate to hold back, and I can embrace and enjoy dogs the rest of the time. I can form deep, committed relationships with others and not let my patterned fears of being humiliated or overwhelmed by inhuman irrationality hold me back. My mind can keep me safe. My mind can help me recruit others for joint survival. And I get to use my mind all the time to decide how I want to live my life.

We get to be pleased with our minds. We get to be pleased with others’ minds. We do not need to control others’ minds or worry about them trying to control ours. So we can be free.

Jim Cummings
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

1 “Come up with” means think of.
2  “Material” means distress.
3 An Intensive is twenty hours of one-way Re-evaluation Counseling, for a fee, at Re-evaluation Counseling Community Resources in Seattle, Washington, USA.
4 “Going on” means happening.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00