You have an incredibly powerful computer at your disposal. The best computer ever made and with the power to make you successful and happy. It’s called your subconscious mind. The main question though is: do you have the manual? Do you know how to communicate with your subconscious mind? Do you know how to listen to your subconscious mind? And do you know how to instruct it properly to get what you want in life?
If you want to use a tool effectively, then you need to understand it. The better your understanding, the better you will be able to use it. And what better way to apply this practice then to your subconscious mind! The most effective and efficient tool you will ever have in your life when you know how to use it properly.
That’s why I wrote this article for you:
In this article, you are going to learn what your subconscious mind is and how you can use this tool effectively. The power of your subconscious mind can be enormous, and the way to proceed is to increase the power of your subconscious mind by becoming consciously aware of it.
So, please read on:
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What is a subconscious mind, you might ask. Well, let me explain:
What is a Subconscious Mind?
Your subconscious mind is the part of your brain you use 24/7, subconsciously of course!
Your brain is a gigantic complex and wonderful moist computer. It is far more complex than we human beings can understand today. That’s why there are a couple of models developed to simplify the working of the brain to make it understandable for us.
Before diving into the wonderful world of your subconscious mind, let’s first dive into the physical part of your brain.
Here are a few models to better understand the workings of your brain:
Left side / right side brain model
Triune brain model
Left side / right side brain model
Probably you are already familiar with the distinction between the left brain versus the right brain. Your brain is physically divided into two parts: a left-brain part and a right brain part. And both parts of the brain communicate with each through a communication channel called the corpus callosum (see picture):
Core functionalities of the left side of your brain are:
Core functionalities of the right side of your brain are:
The left side of your brain is correlated with the working of your right hand, while the right side of your brain is more correlated with the working of your left hand. This means that if you are a primary left-hand guy, your right side brain is more dominant than the left side of your brain. If you are on the contrary your right hand is your primary hand, then the left side of your brain is more dominant.
Triune model of the brain
Another thinking model of looking at the workings of your brain is the so-called "Triune model” of the brain. This model was developed by Dr. Paul Maclean. The Triune model is based on the three stages of evolution.
Your Triune brain consists of the following three parts:
Each of the three brains acts like a totally different computer. It has its own space, intelligence, sense of time, and memory. The first two parts are by evolution by far the oldest and combined they are the house of your subconscious mind.
So, to understand your subconscious mind, you need to understand these different parts of your brain:
The Reptilian brain or the Paleo cortex
Reptiles who lived 250 million years ago first developed this reptilian brain. It served its purpose so well that the reptilian brain has stopped evolving 250 million years ago. But as you might have guessed, circumstances today are totally different than 250 million years ago. This means that your reptilian brain has not been adapted to today's society. Instead, it functions still very primitive. The programmed responses are very rigid. The reptilian brain is involuntary, impulsive, and compulsive. And it is paranoid for self-preservation. Which was a necessary tool 250 million years ago, but in today's society, we don’t need to look out for enemies 24/7 anymore. Unfortunately, your reptilian brain does not learn from experiences. It is only capable of repeating the programmed behavior over and over again. Furthermore, your reptilian brain has no feelings.
Your reptile brain doesn’t care about religion or ethics or the law. The only thing your reptile brain cares about is satisfying and protecting your genes. And while your genes don’t go to heaven, the only thing your reptile cares about is the here and the now.
This might sound very negative all together, but your reptilian brain still serves you very well, because it controls all basic functions of your life, like breathing, heart rate, fight or flight response, production, and feeding. Your reptilian brain is the most powerful of all three brains. It functions as your primal drive.
By the way, if you want to engage your audience then also engage the reptile brain of your audience. Every time you engage the reptile brain of your audience, you will get extra attention. There is a whole field called neuromarketing which is about how to address the reptile brain of your audience. The reptile brain is your brain’s attention gatekeeper and also the decision maker.
So, if you want to improve your focus and decisions, engage your reptile brain!
The best way to do this is to:
Tap into the pain points
Appeal to the innate selfishness of your reptile brain
An excellent example of using a visual metaphor is this fantastic presentation by Seth Godin where he uses a burning candle as a metaphor for the length of his presentation. And at the same time, he focuses the audience on the beginning and the end of his speech, because he says that his speech must be finished before the candle burns out. He also uses all kinds of other visual metaphors, but you have to watch that for yourself.
I wrote an extensive article on the Reptilian Brain, and you can find it here.
Engage your reptile brain, if you want to improve your focus and decisions.
The Mammalian brain or Limbic system
Your Mammalian brain evolved 50 million years ago. This part of your brain is essentially the same as in all mammals. The Mammalian brain contains feelings and emotions, and it is a source of maternal care and very playful. It is your Mammalian brain which provides you with feelings of what is real, important, and true to us. The Mammalian brain is not capable of communicating these feelings to the conscious mind. The Mammalian brain derives information as feelings. It derives its value system based on experience with emotional impact.
Engage your mammalian brain if you want to control your emotions and take better decisions.
The Neocortex brain
Your reptile brain will consistently take up more and more attention of your brain and your body if a particular drive is not met and until you act on it in some way. Many times those actions that our reptile brain wants us to do, conflict with other layers of our experience. These actions conflict with what we were taught as good and bad, or they conflict with what society says is appropriate or not, or they conflict with the rules of friendship and fair play. But we still want to satisfy that primal drive. So, we need to find a way to balance that drive. The reptile brain generates an emotion which causes you to take action. This is why we have our Neocortex or rational brain.
Your Neocortex brain is in charge of generating a reason why you are doing the things you are doing, and your Neocortex brain is in charge of making sure that you can explain why you are doing the things you are doing.
The conscious mind is where the logical thinking takes place. Your conscious mind can think logical and abstract:
to use hindsight
to use foresight
Your conscious mind uses both inductive and deductive reasoning.
According to Carl Jung, the Neocortex brain is developed 40,000 years ago and keeps on evolving. Your Neocortex brain started to develop around age 3 and is not fully developed until you were around 20 years old. The Neocortex brain is the house of your conscious mind.
While your subconscious mind evolves its value system through emotions, your conscious mind evolves it through rational interpretation of experience.
Your conscious mind is the least informed and the last to know!
Use your neocortex brain to manage and control your reptile brain and mammalian brain by thinking logically.
The three brains working together
The map of the world you have in your head is not the experience. The greatest thing about the past is that it is gone. All that is left is an imperfect poorly written memory based on the emotions you are feeling and the information you had at that time that your nervous system randomly put the memory into the filing cabinet somewhere.
The late development of the Neocortex brain, in your life, is responsible for the fact that your subconscious mind has so many negative and counterproductive programs. In the early years of your life, you did not have the rational thinking you have as an adult. This means that you were not able to evaluate and consciously filter out all negative programs. The problem with that is that you, now as an adult, don’t know all the programs that are stored in your subconscious mind. Only by accident and by surprise you get to know them.
If you are tomorrow suddenly afraid of a black cat, the then chances are that this is related to a negative emotion when you were young. But at that time you were not able to consciously filter this negative emotion. Your subconscious mind stored blindly the conclusion that a black cat means having a negative emotion. And here you are!
As you might have guessed, the three different parts of your brain are like totally different worlds. They serve totally different purposes; they function on a totally different level, and worst of all: most of the time they conflict with each other. Your Neocortex brain or conscious mind, will analyze problems and find rational solutions. But at the same time, it has the vaguest idea of what is taking place in the Mammalian brain and Reptilian brain (aka your subconscious mind). It is as if the CEO of a company who hasn’t any of idea of what all his employees are doing. So, what will be the value of a decision by such a CEO? Well nothing, because of the chance that there will be an employee following his decision, is minimal.
The poor communication between the different parts of your brain is the cause of all kinds of problems in everyday life. It might not be a surprise that the communication is so poor because the conscious mind and the subconscious mind speak totally different languages. The language of your conscious mind is words while the language of your subconscious mind is pictures, feelings, sounds, smells, and tastes.
Resistance is created for anything that conflicts or threatens our sense of Self. We also resist to anything which threatens how other people see us. We resist to anything of what we know to be true. For most of us, what’s true is what is familiar, and this is most of the time what we experienced the first time in the given context.
Functions of the Subconscious Mind
Your conscious mind controls all voluntary functions. So, if you want to play the piano, then you can consciously lift your thumb and let it come down on one of the piano keys. This is an example of a conscious action. I don’t know if you have every played the piano or not. I have. You might want to try it some day. But anyway, the trick with playing the piano is that you need to operate all ten fingers independent from each other. Your conscious mind cannot cope with this complex task. Your conscious mind cannot do two things simultaneously. So, this is where you need your subconscious mind. This is by the way, why it is dangerous to drive your car and use your cell phone at the same time. You cannot do both consciously at the same time. So, one of both has to be done on autopilot. And I hope for you that you don’t drive on autopilot because that’s extremely dangerous. And talking on autopilot, well, what’s the use of that? So, why not just drive your car without using your cell phone?
Your subconscious mind is capable of doing trillions of things at the same time. We breathe, perspire, digest our food, release insulin, fight foreign bodies, and so on. So, if you need to do more than one thing at the same time, you need to train your subconscious mind to do it for you, so that it will be done on autopilot. That’s why you need a lot of practice and repetition to learn to play the piano. All those ten fingers moving independently from each other is way too complicated for your conscious mind, but an easy task for your subconscious mind. So, train your subconscious mind to learn to play the piano and voilá!
Mental filtering by your Subconscious Mind
While your conscious mind can only process so little information at the same time, your subconscious mind filters out 99% of the input it gets. At any given second during the day, you receive millions of bits of information. It is the job of your subconscious mind to filter out almost everything and only present you the information you really need. If you walk into your living room, you probably can easily identify a hundred different objects if you would have to. But why pay attention to every little object every time you enter your living room? That’s a waste of your mental energy. So, that’s why your subconscious mind is helping you by filtering out all those unnecessary information. This is done by three primary processes:
Deletion: Every bit of information which your subconscious mind think is not necessary for you to pay attention to is not presented to your conscious mind. So, when you selectively pay attention to something, then all other sensory information which is reaching you is deleted.
Distortion: The information which will be presented to your conscious mind is distorted in a way that it will be easy for you to understand. Distortion allows us to make shifts in our experience of the sensory data by making misrepresentations of reality. Distortion can be very helpful for us for planning and motivation. When we do Future-Self Visualization to plan our future we are distorting the current sensory information.
Generalization: The information which will be presented to your conscious mind is generalized in bigger chunks so that it will be easier for you to pay attention to it. So, if you are looking for a chair while entering a room, then instead of presenting you “wood, brown, leg, leg, cushion, white, big, leather” your subconscious mind will generalize this to “chair”. Generalization lets us draw global conclusions based on one of the ways that we learn. When you generalize, you take the information you have and draw broad conclusions about the world based on one or more expectations.
These mental filters are build by your subconscious mind over a long period of time. This means that if you want to change your mental filters, because they don’t serve you anymore, that it will also take a long period of time to change them. But if you are making the wrong generalizations over and over again and this is hindering you from achieving your goals, then you know it is time to change your mental filters.
By repeating the same distortions, deletions, and generalizations over a longer period of time, you build mental filters.
There are six types of mental filters:
Mental-filter level 1: Meta-programs
Meta-programs are a mental filter on a very subconscious level. They are content-free filters. This means that meta-programs do not contain any content or information. They just describe the way we think about things. Meta-programs are a mental filter that either subtract from your generalizations or add to your generalizations. Meta-programs are one of the ways you maintain your identity by preserving or breaking down the generalizations you make over time. Knowing your meta-programs can predict your behavior. And, of course, if you know the meta-programs of your stakeholders, then you can predict their behavior as well.
Mental-filter level 2: Values
The next most subconscious mental filter after meta-programs is your values. Values are the first level where the mental filters have content in and of themselves. Values are an evaluation filter. Your values determine how you decide every second of the day and how you will evaluate your actions after they have taken place. For example, an important value of mine is to be productive every day. So, when I am going home and feel that I have been very productive that day, I have a good feeling about myself. Your values can be arranged in hierarchical order. Some values are more important than others. Our values determine how our thinking paradigms are constructed. Values are context-dependent. So, in the context of your career, other things are important than in the context of your family life.
Mental-filter level 3: Beliefs
The next mental filter is beliefs. Beliefs are views or acceptances that certain things are correct or real. They are generalizations about how the world operates. Beliefs are the presuppositions you have about certain things that either create or deny personal power for you.
Mental-filter level 4: Attitudes
The next mental filter is attitudes. Attitudes are collections of values and beliefs about a particular subject. Most people are quite conscious about their attitudes. You might have experienced this yourself when you said something like “Well, that’s just the way I feel about it.”
Mental-filter level 5: Memories
The fifth mental filter is memories. Memories profoundly affect your perceptions and personality. They are who you are. The older you grow, the more you will react to collections of memories around a certain topic from the past. This makes you less receptive and alert to what is really going on around you.
Mental-filter level 6: Decisions
The sixth mental filter is decisions that were made in the past. Decisions about who you are might affect your entire life. The problem with most of your decisions is that they were made subconsciously. Or they were made so long ago that you have forgotten that you have made them. Most of the decisions are made without re-evaluating them afterward. This often results in decisions which are limiting us instead of helping us.
So, now you know how information is stored and processed by your subconscious mind. To even better understand your subconscious mind, let’s have a look at the characteristics of your subconscious mind. If you understand these as well, you are well prepared to improve the quality of the communication between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind in such a ways that you will be more successful and happy.
Did you know that your subconscious mind has 23 different characteristics?
23 Characteristics of your Subconscious Mind
1) Your subconscious mind thinks in the form of images
All your memories and experiences are stored in your subconscious mind in the form of pictures, images, symbols, sounds, and feelings. You probably already experienced this while dreaming. Then your subconscious mind is busy to reorganize all your experiences of the past day and decides which experience to store in your long-term memory and which to ditch. This is done by images. Distorted images most of the time, but still images.
2) Your subconscious mind is 24/7 active
While your subconscious mind is also responsible for taking care of your body, it has to be always active. Even when you are asleep, you need to breathe and digest and so on. But also when your conscious mind is “offline watching TV”, your subconscious mind is still alert to any external stimuli you should respond to. So, most of the noises around you are filtered out, when watching TV, but when the doorbell rings, you suddenly get this sound filtered through to your conscious mind.
3) Your subconscious mind is the domain of your emotions
All emotions are stored in your subconscious mind. They are attached to past memories and experiences. An emotion functions like a #hastag for your memory. You can lookup every memory you have tagged with the emotion public speaking anxiety, for example. So, emotions, whether we like it or not, serve as an important goal for us. The trick is to learn to manage your emotions in an effective way which is serving your goals. At the same time are all our decisions driven by emotions. We human beings are literally emotionally creatures. So, if you want to be more successful and achieve your goals, you need to take better decisions, and therefore you need to manage your emotions better.
Some emotions might be experienced consciously, but all emotions are generated and maintained by your subconscious mind.
4) Your subconscious mind stores all your memories
All your experiences are stored in your subconscious mind. These memories are stored somewhere in your nervous system by making all kinds of neural connections. Some experiences are stored in relationship to time. Others are not. The memories your subconscious mind thinks are important for you, are stored in your long-term memory on your timeline. Everyone has its own internal timeline where all memories of the past, and also thoughts of the future, are stored by your subconscious mind. This timeline acts as a reference index for looking up memories. How else would you know the difference between your past birthday, your birthday of three years ago and a thought of your upcoming birthday?
Your subconscious mind is like a video recorder which records all your five senses all the time. Every second of your life is being recorded and stored somewhere in your subconscious mind. But it is not exact, because information is deleted, distorted and generalized.
Nobel Prize winner Carl Pribram developed the theory that memories are stored not only in the brain but in your entire body. Your nervous system acts as a holographically storage system for your memories. And it is your subconscious mind which is responsible for the coordination of that storage and for getting access to your memories.
Your subconscious mind is also responsible for organizing all your memories. One organization method is your internal timeline. Another method is “tagging” all your memories with emotions and values in such a way that a particular feeling can provoke you to remember all kinds of past experiences attached to that feeling.
5) Your subconscious mind makes associations and generalizations
Your subconscious mind is assisting you in learning more quickly by making associations and generalizations. This way a new concept can be processed more quickly because our subconscious mind makes it resemble like something familiar. This can be an advantage but also a disadvantage, because sometimes we make the wrong conclusion while jumping to conclusions. And then that false image of reality can hinder us later. But you know what they say: Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.
6) Your subconscious mind represses memories with unresolved negative emotions
Your subconscious mind likes to protect you. So, if you are not in the mood or not able to deal with yet another obstacle in your life, your subconscious mind will gently repress memories with negative emotions attached to it. In this case, your conscious mind will not be bothered with the negative emotions. There is a downside, however.
Repressed memories can create a resistance or blockage in internal communication throughout the mind and body.
This is why the subconscious mind also has the following characteristic:
7) Your subconscious mind will present repressed memories for resolution
While your subconscious mind knows that in the long run, repressed memories will not serve you, it presents you every now and then with a repressed memory, but only when it thinks you are ready for it. So, it might be that you are on vacation in the Carribean having the time of your life, while suddenly you get anxiety attacks. Out of the blue. Well, next time this will happen to you, you know that it is your subconscious mind talking to you, asking you if you now have finally the time to deal with the repressed memories attached to this anxiety attack. And if you don’t want to deal with it, then your subconscious mind will bury this repressed memory again for some time, somewhere deep subconsciously. Until the next time, your subconscious mind thinks that you are ready for it to resolve it.
As said earlier, there is a downside to repressed memories, give yourself a break every now and then and cooperate with your subconscious mind in resolving these repressed memories.
8) Your subconscious mind cannot process negatives
If I would say to you “Don’t think of a blue tree” then what happens inside your head? You first see a blue tree, don’t you? Even if it was in a split second, so short that you hardly notice it, you still first see that blue tree, before you can decide to skip it because you are not allowed to think of it.
Your subconscious mind cannot process negatives. It cannot not think of something. So, for you to understand the sentence, your subconscious mind is first producing a picture of a blue tree. And then it is thinking: “Oh oh, I am not allowed to think about a blue tree! What do I do now?” And while your subconscious mind doesn’t know where to go, it probably goes back to the blue tree.
This is what happens when you tell a five-year old child “Don’t touch that!” Most of the time, the child will still touch it, because it thinks that that is what you are asking him to do.
9) Every image is real for your subconscious mind
Have you ever been afraid because you thought there was “something” in your room at night? Well, that’s because you had an image of a ghost or whatsoever and that felt as if it was real, for your subconscious mind.
This is because whenever you picture something in your mind, all kinds of neural connections are triggered connected with that picture. And as said earlier every image has feelings attached to it. And image “outside your head” will trigger the same neural connections as an image “inside your head” resulting in the same feelings.
10) Any program that your subconscious mind runs can be interrupted
Everything human beings do is a process. And every process has a structure. If it has a structure, it has a code. If it has a code, it can be changed. So, find the pattern of the behavior you want to change and interrupt the pattern. If you do this often enough the pattern interrupt becomes part of the new pattern, and a new behavior is installed.
When I am walking to my office, or in the evening back home, I am used to always walking the exact same route. But one particular part of that route has a very narrow pavement. So, I’d rather don’t take that street but take another street. But because I am so used to walking the old route, every time I find myself half way this street which I want to avoid, and then I think, “Why am I walking here instead of in the the other street?”. After a couple of times I was frustrated about this, and then I suddenly decided to turn and walk the street back to the beginning of the street, although I already walked nearly the entire street. So, I walked back to the beginning of the street and then took the other street with the broader pavement. This is an example of a pattern interrupt. I was interrupting my normal pattern of walking to the office by turning back half way a street and then taking another route. I had to repeat this pattern interrupt a few times more until I was aware of taking the new route before I even entered this street. And now the new route has become my new habit of walking to the office.
So, if you encounter behavior you want to change, change the patterns your subconscious mind has for it by interrupting that pattern deliberately and repeatedly until the new pattern has become the new habit.
11) Your subconscious mind is structuring the perception of your reality
Please read this sentence first:
"The dog that was pink limped with one leg”.
What happens is that your conscious mind is listening to the words, while your subconscious mind pays attention to the structure. And the moment your subconscious mind hears something like the word dog, it starts searching every file in your system connected with this word. And after that, it spits up a picture based on that association. The funny thing about this sentence is that there is a so-called descriptor in this sentence which disturbs your whole picture: “pink”. And this descriptor is placed on purpose at the end of the sentence. So, it is placed after the word dog, to which it refers to. Your subconscious mind takes a little piece of information, “the dog”, and it starts to run with it. It immediately generalizes the word to a picture filed somewhere in your memory. This creates an assumption, which may or may not is false. So, always test your assumptions! This process happens millions of times below the threshold of our conscious awareness.
The big question is: is your subconscious mind controlling you, or are you controlling your subconscious mind? Because as you have seen in this simple example, our perception of reality is formed by our subconscious mind without us even knowing it. The first step in taking back control over your subconscious mind is to observe your language. Every word you use, represent literally the part of the brain that is being activated.
12) Your subconscious mind runs your body
There are hundreds of chemical processes going on in your body, like 24/7. Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever forgotten to turn on or off, or tweak one of those processes? No, of course not. Because luckily for us, this is one of the processes entirely run by our subconscious mind. The same applies for breathing, using your muscles or pumping your heart. All are done by your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind is responsible for maintaining your body in the best shape and form. Your subconscious mind also has a blueprint on how to run your body now and how your body would look like in perfect health. That blueprint is stored in the deepest part of your subconscious mind.
13) Your subconscious mind preserves your body
Slightly related to the previous topic, but at the same time different: it is the job of your subconscious mind to preserve your body. Even when you are sick, or not as healthy as you want to be, then it is still the highest job of your subconscious mind to preserve your body. It might be that your subconscious mind is being hindered by limiting beliefs you have and which has caused the disease in the first place, but your subconscious mind will still fight for your body.
14) Your subconscious mind is a highly moral being
Your subconscious mind accepts the morality which you have been taught and have accepted.Your subconscious mind is like a friend that wants to ensure your survival. Your subconscious mind also wants you to stay happy and healthy. Almost all emotions of your subconscious mind are designed to protect you from danger or to move you towards happiness.
Your subconscious mind will enforce any morality which it has been taught and which it has come to believe it is true. The morality, in this case, is your values and beliefs system.
15) Your subconscious mind controls your habits
The quality of your life is dependent on the quality of your habits because almost all activities we do every day are part of a habit. And habits are a behavioral pattern stored in your subconscious mind. So, if you want to increase the quality of your life, you need to investigate which of your habits need an upgrade. And after you have done that, you need to have a good conversation with your subconscious mind to help you change that old habit into a new one.
16) Your subconscious mind needs repetition to build new habits
Creating a new habit means that you have to create new neural pathways in your brain. If you would, for example, create the habit of doing push-ups every morning, then your subconscious mind needs to create dozens of correlated neural pathways corresponded with you doing push-ups in the morning. So, the first time you get out of bed and start doing your push-ups all kinds of neural pathways are being created. But if you leave it at that, then this means that this neural pathway isn’t activated anymore. And neural pathways which aren’t used get lost in neverland. But if you follow through on your new habit every day for the next 20 days or so, then the new neural pathways get so ingrained that after a while you don’t have to think about it anymore, and you will find yourself doing push-ups every morning on autopilot.
Visualization techniques can help you strengthen your new neural pathways. So, if you start visualizing that immediately when you get out of bed you are doing push-ups, then the same neural pathways are triggered as when you would do this in reality. And the more often you visualize this new behavior, the stronger the neural connections get and the easier for you to follow-through with your new behavior. To make this even more powerful, you can also use positive affirmations to strengthen the belief that you will be performing your new behavior every day.
17) Your subconscious mind wants to follow orders
Your subconscious mind is like a 5-year old child: it want’s to please you. Well, if it is in rapport with you. Rapport is having a deep connection with someone. So, as long as you have a good connection with your subconscious mind, you can tell it what you want it to do and then it will follow your orders.
Be careful! If you say “I don’t want to be fat” then your subconscious mind will think, “Okay, my boss wants to be fat, so I will do that”, because as said earlier, your subconscious mind cannot process negatives. So, be very careful of what you think every second of the day. Because if your thoughts are contradictory to each other then your subconscious mind gets confused and it doesn’t know what to do anymore. So, like with any 5-year old child, be direct, positive and consistent in the way you speak and think. And even watch particular language markers you use. For example, if I don’t want to give my kids an ice scream because they already got enough, and I am talking to my wife, and I am using the word ice scream in the middle of a sentence, what do you think what happens? As soon as my kids here the word ice scream all kind of alarm bells go off, and then I hear suddenly “Ice cream, Ice cream, Ice cream!!” yelling.
So, be direct, use positive words and watch your language when talking and thinking because your subconscious mind always is listening in and want to follow your orders.
18) Your subconscious mind controls and maintains all perceptions
The millions of bits of information your senses receive every second of the day are filtered by your subconscious mind, so that your conscious mind only have to pay attention to relevant matters. This is because your conscious mind can only process 7 plus or minus 2 chunks of information at the same time. The 0.00001% of reality which is led through to our conscious awareness is called perception. It is a deleted, distorted and generalized look on reality. But it is also our best chance of surviving in life without going crazy.
It is the job of your subconscious mind to control and maintain those perceptions. So, every time you perceive a little bit of reality your subconscious mind is creating a mental filter. For example, when a young child learns that something with four wheels is a car, it calls every thing on four wheels a car, even it is something else, like a truck, or a boat on a trailer. Until the little child gets told otherwise and it can adjust his filters.
This is the key to every change you want to establish in your behavior. If you want to be more successful and achieve more goals, then you have to reprogram your mental filters because otherwise, your subconscious mind will continue to use the mental filters as they are.
Everything we do is feeling driven. We need to tap into that. Each belief, whether you are conscious about your belief or not, has a feeling connected to it. The most powerful filter you have besides from your beliefs is your current emotional state. This will determine if you come into action or not, if you will stay focused on your goal or not.
19) Your subconscious mind generates, stores, distributes and transmits energy throughout your body
Have you ever felt tired, suddenly after a meeting? That’s your subconscious mind at work. As we have talked about earlier, your subconscious mind controls all functions of your body. It is also in charge of the energy in your body. Your subconscious mind generates energy in your body by interacting glucose with oxygen. And like all other chemical processes, this is done all on autopilot by your subconscious mind. And this process is influenced by the way we think and behave. For example, if you go to the gym, you are burning a lot of energy, but at the same time, you might feel very energized when you are finished. Why? Because of all the chemical reactions going on in your body and nervous system. But now you have a lazy Sunday, and you have watched TV for a couple of hours, and you feel exhausted and depressed. Why? Because you burned so many energy? Well, not physically, but mentally yes. So, pay attention to what activities give you energy and what activities suck your energy. And furthermore, what were you thinking when your energy seemed to flow out of your body?
20) Your subconscious mind is continually seeking more and more
Your subconscious mind is programmed to continue seeking more and more. This explains why most people are never satisfied.Let’s say that you bought your new dream car. Yeahh!! You are happy! But how do you feel about your car two or three years later? Or should I say one month later? Because due to our hedonic adaptation we very quickly adapt to the new situation and after a month or so we don’t see and don’t feel the difference anymore against the situation before you bought your new car. You are accustomed to driving your car every day.
So, due to this hedonic adaptation, we get bored very quickly and then we are seeking for new input. It’s like Johnny Number 5, the robot from the movie Short Circuit, who always wants more input: “Input Input Input Input” he yells, while reading book after book.
This characteristic of the subconscious mind has advantages and disadvantages of course. One of the major disadvantages is that this is the cause of all distraction. If you don’t know how to control this functionality of your subconscious mind, then you will always be distracted by the next shiny object.
21) Your subconscious mind must seek to answer every question you ask
The quality of your life will be mostly determined by the quality of the questions you ask. If you ask vague questions like, “Why is this happening to me?”, then not only will you not get a right answer, but your subconscious mind will go and search for all kind of negative internal representations to come up with an answer. And by doing this, it will enforce the neural pathways connected with these negative feelings. If you would have asked “What’s my next best step?”, then your subconscious mind will search for an answer to that question. This answer will be more solution-driven, and this will enhance the neural pathways connected with more positive feelings. So, be very conscious and specific in what you ask and furthermore: #DareToAsk!
22) Your subconscious mind takes everything personally
“Everything you say can and will be used against you!” Well, sort of. But everything you think and say causes a representation in your subconscious mind which activates the corresponding neural networks. So, if you say ugly things to someone else then your subconscious mind will also process this into internal representations in your head, and it will activate corresponding networks. When you say those things often, these networks get imprinted more and more and become part of your personality and behavior. If that is what you want, then that it is “okayish” with me, but probably you don’t want this. So, be very careful with what you say to others as well as to yourself all day long. It is expressing who you are, and it is affecting who you will become.
Likewise, if you want to motivate your team member to perform better, the first place to start is adjusting the image you have of your team member. Or even better, to adjust the image you have of yourself. Your subconscious mind takes everything personally, so, the way you think about someone else is a reflection of how you think of yourself. And it is also the basis for your communication to the other person. More likely than not your subconscious mind is projecting its own image to the outside world.
23) Your subconscious mind works on the principle of least effort
Your subconscious mind works on the principle of least effort. This means that it will do as little as possible, as little as it can get away with. The benefit of this is, of course, energy conservation. This is a fundamental principle to consider because if we ask too many things at the same time from our subconscious mind which task do you think it will start first? That’s right! The task which cost the least amount of energy. This principle is also the reason why you need to be very specific because if you leave it to your subconscious mind to decide which route to take, it will always choose the path of least effort.
So, next time you’ll find yourself being lazy, unfocused, off track or less productive, ask yourself why you are doing that. The chances are that you gave your subconscious mind mixed messages which gave it the opportunity to take the route of least effort. The same applies to managing your team. If you are not specific about what you want, the then chances are that the subconscious mind of your team members will also take the route of least effort.
Get a gist of the power of your subconscious mind by doing this exercise:
By now you have learned a lot about your subconscious mind, and you will be much more familiar with how it operates. Now let’s do an exercise to get a feel of what your subconscious mind can do for you.
Here is a situation everyone can relate to: getting up in the morning fresh, energized, awake and healthy just before your alarm clock goes off. Would you like to acquire this ability? Imagine that you never have to push the snooze button again!
So, here is the exercise for you to acquire this ability which incorporates a lot of the functions described in this article:
Let’s say that it is Sunday, July 10th and you are going to bed. You are setting your electrical alarm clock at 6:00 AM for the next morning.
Now, make a mental picture of a calendar where July 11th is highlighted and see a large digital clock above it with in bold large characters 5:55 AM.
Picture this image just before you fall asleep and to top it off say to yourself “I am wide awake and healthy and energized up at 5:55 AM Monday, July 10th”. Now use the power of visualization to the max by exaggerating the image. Let your internal alarm clock shake, become bigger and bigger, shaking you awake. Using your imagination in your visualization makes it even more compelling because your subconscious mind likes to be playful, like a five-year old kid does. And fully engaging your subconscious mind increases the chances of success.
When you fall asleep after you have done this exercise, great! Otherwise, just repeat the exercise to enhance the new neural connections you’ve just made.
DESIRE - EXPECTATION - CONFIDENCE
As said your subconscious mind will be more effective when you fully engage it. The secret to engaging your subconscious mind is Desire, Expectation, and Confidence. If you are just picturing your mental alarm clock with no desire, then there will be no emotions attached to it. And you now know that your subconscious mind is an emotional creature which drives on emotions. So, to really involve your subconscious mind create a strong desire. And if you think “Well, a strong desire to get up early? Ridiculous!”, then fake it. How? Glad you asked! Think back to a moment in your history when you had a strong desire to do something. Just by thinking of it, you will get in the right mood! Now you have created a state of desire, so when you now visualize your mental alarm clock, your subconscious mind will be much more involved.
Now it is time to create an expectation of you getting up before your real alarm clock goes off. The same principle of faking applies here if you don’t have high expectations yet. Just imagine the day before your birthday when you were young and when you were really excited about the gifts you would receive next day. While having the feeling of expectation, visualize your mental alarm clock again.
Finally, you also need to have a high confidence that your subconscious will wake you up just before your real alarm clock does. To create this confidence, if you haven’t had it already, go back to a moment where you had confidence. This might something simple like you having the confidence that the director of an orchestra will let his orchestra perform the best it can. But you can choose your own example of course. Just think back to a moment in your memory that you had high confidence. Now visualize your internal alarm clock one more time.
By now, you have involved some powerful emotions (desire, expectation, and confidence) and blended them with the visualization of your internal alarm clock. So, now you are ready to wake up before your real alarm clock does.
I wish you success with this exercise and let me know in the comment box below what your experiences are!
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Conclusion about your Subconscious Mind
Your subconscious mind is an incredibly powerful helpful emotional creature that has the power to bring you all the success and happiness you ever want in your life. You only need to understand it so that you know exactly how to communicate with your subconscious mind for maximum effect.
In this article, I have given you the 23 characteristics of your subconscious mind so that you now have all the knowledge to continue to improve your communication with your subconscious mind.
You carry your Subconscious Mind always with you, so you better become friends!
You carry your Subconscious Mind always with you, so you better become friends!
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I wish you and your subconscious mind a long lasting joyful, harmonious life! And they lived happily ever after!
Over to you
Please leave a comment below by telling us your favorite characteristic of your subconscious mind.
Thank you already in advance for sharing your thoughts and insights!
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Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: HarryHeijligers.com.
If you'd like to know about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.
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