Conscious Of Our Subconscious

by Scott Morrice on 01/08/2012

In my previous Does Hypnosis Work? post I mention the importance of being conscious of our subconscious in the context of using hypnosis to modify our beliefs and behavior.

To more fully appreciate the possibilities here, a quick look at just what the conscious mind and the subconscious mind are all about is probably warranted. And for the following discussion I am deeply indebted to The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton, and the CD series “The Biology of Empowerment: How to Program Yourself to Succeed at a Cellular Level” by Dr. Lee Pulos.

In evolutionary terms the conscious mind is a relatively recent phenomena. In fact, the more primitive animal brains consisted only of functions that in humans we would compare to the subconscious mind. These minds were simply “devices” that responded to stimulation from their environment with either genetically programmed instincts or very simple learned behaviors. Essentially these minds were on automatic, always resulting in programmed responses to stimuli.

However, with the appearance of mammals higher up the evolutionary ladder we began to see the development of a level of awareness of the self—our self-consciousness, or just consciousness.

It was an important development.

In very simple terms, our subconscious regulates our bodies’ physiological responses, our autonomic functions. In addition, it stores all of our memories from birth, is responsible for our dreams, our creativity and our inspiration. But essentially it is a database, comprised of all of our genetically programmed instincts and all of our previously learned beliefs, whose function is primarily that of reading stimuli, whether these signals originate in the outside world or from within the body, and responding automatically with hard-wired pre-programmed stimulus-response behaviors. When a signal is received the subconscious will automatically engage in a response that was learned when the signal was first experienced. It will simply, automatically and forever engage in this same response to this same signal over and over again, no questions asked. It is strictly habitual. Upon sensing a stimulus, either from the outside world or from inside the body, the subconscious mind engages in these learned responses without the help, or even awareness, of the conscious mind.

Against this, our conscious mind operates as our manual control. It has the power to be creative in its responses to stimuli. It is not on autopilot, always automatically responding to stimuli with pre-programmed behaviors. In fact it can observe this preprogrammed behavior generated by the subconscious as it occurs and decide to step in and create a new response. And while the subconscious operates only in the present, responding to current stimuli, because of course that is all it is, a response mechanism, the conscious mind can think forward and backward.

The processing power of the two minds is quite different as well. In terms of sheer processing ability the subconscious is millions of times more powerful than the conscious. In fact Lipton uses the example of a ball being thrown at your head and suggests that the conscious mind is probably too slow to become aware of the threat, yet the subconscious, which he says processes approximately 20,000,000 stimuli per second, versus a “mere” 40 stimuli per second for the conscious mind, causes your eye to blink to avoid harm.

The two minds can and do act interdependently however. As you learn new behaviors, such as driving a car, you are using your conscious mind. However, it is not too long before these behaviors, even complex behaviors, have been so sufficiently programmed into the subconscious that the behavior can be turned over to the control and supervision of your subconscious, allowing you to turn your conscious mind to engaging in another behaviors at the same time.

But within this relationship is also found the seeds of trouble. Given its huge processing power, if the desires of the subconscious mind are in conflict with the conscious mind, it’s not really a fair contest. For example, our conscious mind is the voice of our thoughts and our dreams. In our conscious mind we may aspire to success, but if our subconscious mind has already been programmed that we are inferior, or not worthy, or not capable, these limitations will negatively influence our behavior in ways that limit our ability to achieve the goal of success. As a matter of fact, these negative limitations can even significantly affect our physiology and our health. So, in a very real sense, it is important that we become conscious of our subconscious.

As I’ve already written, the conscious mind can, as long as it is observing, step in and modify the preprogrammed behavior of the subconscious as it is occurring. Thus it offers us a form of free will. But the very important key is that you must be fully aware, or conscious, of the behavior occurring in order to exercise your free will and change it. As soon as you are no longer paying attention the preprogrammed behavior of the subconscious will resume.

A much more effective way in dealing with this conflict between the hoped for behavior of the conscious mind and the programmed behavior of the subconscious is to reprogram our subconscious—and to do that we need to become very conscious of our subconscious. This is a very interesting topic that will be the subject of a future post.

I’ll keep you posted.

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