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How the Conscious can Affect the Subconscious
As mysterious as our subconscious minds can seem to be, our conscious minds seem rather obvious. They constitute what we’re thinking of at any moment, most actions we take and everything which is deemed important enough (by the subconscious) to spend time thinking about.
Sigmund Freud, often called the father of modern psychology, believed our conscious mind to be like the tip of an ice berg – the visible portion, with a much larger hidden portion underneath. This analogy is still very applicable today. As busy as our conscious mind might seem, there is much more activity going on ‘under the surface.’
How to Tell the Difference
Sometimes it’s easy to get confused between conscious and subconscious actions. In reality, it’s very simple. If you think about doing something, it’s a conscious action. You consciously decided to read this article, and you’re consciously deciding to keep reading it.
On the other hand, things which you don’t think about are controlled by the subconscious. For example, if you’re like most people, you probably follow a routine each morning. You might use the bathroom, go fix coffee, read the paper and drive to work following the same route each time. If you don’t have a conscious reason for doing these things in a particular order, you’re following subconscious habits formed over time.
Breathing is a great example, because it’s one of the very few actions we perform that can be done consciously or subconsciously. Until you read that last line, you probably weren’t thinking about breathing. Our subconscious keeps us adequately supplied with oxygen without any effort on our part. However, we can choose to breathe consciously, controlling the depth and spacing of each breath. This connection to the subconscious is precisely why breathing exercises are a common and helpful manner of hypnosis induction. They represent a very special connection between our conscious and subconscious minds.
How the Conscious can Affect the Subconscious
Affirmations are a great example of how our conscious thoughts can affect our subconscious beliefs. Our most tightly-held beliefs are located in the subconscious. This is why, when we first begin using affirmations, they don’t work right away. Our subconscious already believes something different than what we’re telling it, and so it rejects the idea.
Change is possible, however. They key to affirmations lies in their belief and repetition. Repeating a belief you have absolutely no faith in won’t work. However, if you want to believe it and repeat is as though you already do believe it, slowly your subconscious will pick up on these cues.
Many people give up on affirmations, hypnotic suggestions and other attempts to influence the subconscious simply because they are no immediate results. This is a mistake, because with persistence and repetition, we can convince the subconscious mind of just about anything.
Avoiding Negative Self-Talk
Since conscious positive thoughts can affect the subconscious, negative conscious thoughts, obviously, have the same effect. This is why so many people walk around with horrible self-confidence issues. They have told themselves so many times that they are not “enough.” Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not hard-working enough. Perhaps they’ve heard these negative statements from others and slowly begun to believe they were true. Whatever the source, these thoughts are extremely damaging.
In our society, putting ourselves down is considered normal. This is a very unhealthy practice, because it literally sets us up to fail. Instead of beating ourselves up, we should be building ourselves up.
You may not realize how many of your conscious thoughts are negative. To put it in perspective, count how many times you put yourself down today. Even something as simple as saying “I’m so stupid,” when you misplace your glasses counts as negative self-talk. Once you add up all your self-insults, you’ll probably be very surprised. We do this all the time, and stopping it can be one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.
It sounds strange, but being conscious of our conscious thoughts is one of the keys to a better life. Our subconscious mind can be thought of as a sponge, or a very impressionable child. Over time, it can absorb and believe just about anything we tell it – so be careful to give it only positive and helpful thoughts.