We have two minds – the one we’re aware of (our conscious mind) and the one we’re unaware of (our subconscious or unconscious mind*).
According to neuroscientists, we use our conscious mind only 5% of the time. That means that 95% of the time, we’re not aware of our decisions, emotions, actions and behavior.
Let that sink in for a minute. Most of our life operates on autopilot. Almost everything we think and do is governed by attitudes we don’t know about or have forgotten or buried.
It gets even more interesting.
Seventy percent – 70% - of our unconscious beliefs are limiting and negative.
Does that make you curious about what’s running your life? I hope so.
Assuming you’re like most people, you have limiting thoughts about what you can do and sometimes engage in self-sabotage. Do you know what’s causing this? Do you know what’s in your 70% of negative beliefs?
Something you probably do know is that too much negativity causes stress, and feeling stressed, in turn, strengthens our negative beliefs.
Do you ever get irritated or impatient or short-tempered when you’re stressed? Maybe you make mistakes or you start to feel hopeless. Those issues cause more stress because they disrupt your life further. The thing is, you can’t stop them while you’re still stressed. It’s basic physiology – we can’t be stressed and calm at the same time.
You can see how a cycle is created. We’re anxious from the pressures of modern life and from the limiting beliefs ingrained in our unconscious. Our distressing habits and beliefs have gone underground – into our unconscious – because we’d rather not feel their effects. But they do still affect us, creating anxiety and self-sabotage and other reactions. Our anxiety, in turn, keeps us locked into the stressful status quo because we’re focused on dealing with the demands of day-to-day life.
The way to stop the cycle is to become aware of it and make a deliberate, consistent effort to reprogram our negative beliefs.
Those beliefs are quite possibly keeping us tied to a life that we either chose long ago or we just fell into because of circumstances – from earlier authority figures or relationships, for example.
To override those patterns, you may think that all you need to do is exercise a little willpower or maybe repeat some affirmations.
It isn’t that easy. For one thing, our brain has a limited capacity for processing information, it can only do so much at one time. Some tasks require more attention than others, which is why multitasking only works with activities that require very little attention – like walking a well-known route and chewing gum. It’s the reason that driving while talking on the phone isn’t a good idea.
Something that has become a habit uses less of our attention than something new and powerful. Affirmations are promoted as a way to change our thoughts and actions. Maybe you’ve had a different experience, but repetitive affirmations haven’t been effective for me at reaching unconscious beliefs. They’re too shallow.
Our deeply-held, unconscious beliefs are changeable, but we have to do what’s necessary to reach them. It takes more time and effort to change programs that are imbedded in our unconscious.
Think of some examples in your life of things that aren’t working. Maybe you know you have skills in x, y and z but your employer isn’t interested in them. You’re good at your job but don’t feel satisfied or appreciated. You know what to do about it but you don’t do it or you don’t get the results you want. Or maybe you keep having the same issues in different personal relationships.
The explanation for these situations and others can often be found in your subconscious. To access it, you need to move into a different state of awareness via techniques such as guided meditation or hypnosis.
In these deeper states of awareness, our brain waves are slower than they are during regular everyday activities. While we’re in our regular 5%-consciousness activities, our brain waves are in beta. Some call this “monkey mind.” Our thoughts pull us in different directions and it’s difficult to relax. During meditation, your brain’s slower alpha or theta waves will be dominant.
If you’re curious, you can read more about brain waves here in my Central Nervous System resource pages.
*For the sake of simplicity, I’m using these terms interchangeably.
The content of this article is informational only. I am not a licensed counselor or therapist and I do not provide medical or therapeutic advice. None of the information provided is intended to treat or diagnose any health condition.
© karen elena james 2020