=Autosuggestion.= Of course we must remember that an idea cannot always work itself out immediately. Conditions are not always ripe. It often lies fallow a long time, buried in the subconscious, only to come up again as an autosuggestion, a suggestion from the self to the self. If some one tells us that nervous insomnia is disastrous, and we believe it, we shall probably store up the idea until the next time that chance conditions keep us awake. Then the autosuggestion “bobs up,” common sense is side-tracked, we toss and worry—and of course stay awake. An autosuggestion often repeated becomes the strongest of suggestions, successfully opposing most outside ideas that would counteract it,—reason enough for seeing to it that our autosuggestions are of the healthful variety.
At the base of every psycho-neurosis is an unhealthful suggestion. This is never the ultimate cause. There are other forces at work. But the suggestion is the material out of which those other forces weave the neurosis. Suggestibility is one of the earmarks of nervousness. A sensible and sturdy spirit, stable enough to maintain its equilibrium, is a fairly good antidote to attack. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
WHY FEELINGS COUNT
=The Emotions Again.= It seems impossible to discuss any psychological principle without finally coming back to the subject of emotions. It truly seems that all roads lead to the instincts and to the emotions which drive them. And so, as we follow the trail of suggestion, we suddenly turn a corner and find ourselves back at our starting-point—the emotional life. Like all other ideas, suggestions get tied up with emotions to form complexes, of which the driving-power is the emotion.
If we look into our emotional life, we find, besides the true emotions, with which we have become familiar in Chapter III, a great number of feelings or feeling-tones which color either pleasurably or painfully our emotions and our ideas. On the one hand there are pleasure, joy, exaltation, courage, cheer, confidence, satisfaction; and on the other, pain, sorrow, depression, apprehension, gloom, distrust, and dissatisfaction. Every complex which is laid away in our subconscious is tinted, either slightly or intensely, with its specific feeling-tone.
=Emotions—Tonic and Poisonous.= All this is most important because of one vital fact; joyful emotions invigorate, and sorrowful emotions depress; pleasurable emotions stimulate, and painful emotions burden; satisfying emotions revitalize, and unsatisfying emotions sap the strength. In other words, our bodies are made for courage, confidence, and cheer. Any other atmosphere puts them out of their element, handicapped by abnormal conditions for which they were never fashioned. We were written in a major key, and when we try to change over into minor tones we get sadly out of tune.