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The subconscious mind - how is it different from the conscious mind?

A number of new clients ask me what the subconscious mind is, how it is different from the conscious mind and why we speak to the subconscious when in hypnosis. So here is an explanation (without getting too sciencey!!)

The conscious mind

Your conscious mind is the logical, thinking part of your mind. It is the part of your mind that decides what you’re going to have for breakfast, plans your day, decides which route to take to work and so on. It is based on logic and thought. We are aware what we’re consciously thinking!

Someone clever somewhere once worked out that we take in 11 million new pieces of information per second. There’s no way that the conscious, thinking mind can process that. This is where the subconscious mind comes in.

The subconscious mind

Your subconscious mind is not based on logical thought, it kind of works on its own programming and it’s where your store all of your beliefs, behaviours and habits. Whilst your conscious mind is the thinking logical mind, your subconscious mind uses ‘automatic programmes’ based on all your past experiences.

This programming starts to be created from the moment you’re born. When you’re young, your conscious mind isn’t yet fully developed so is unable to analyse information and knowledge that comes in. (Try telling a two-month old baby that the sky is silver with pink spots, you aren’t going to find them arguing). So all of this information goes straight into the subconscious mind and gets stored there.

This information builds up over time, adding more information and new experiences and knowledge and begins to create a ‘file of experiences’ in your subconscious.

The subconscious mind in action

When you were very young you would have been taught how to use a knife and fork to eat your dinner. Those first few times it was probably quite tricky and involved a lot of concentration. Nowadays (I’m guessing) you don’t sit down to each meal and work through in your mind which hand the fork goes in, how you hold the knife, how you cut – you just do it. It’s automatic. Your subconscious has an ‘eating my dinner’ programme up and running and it gets on with it for you while you’re busy talking to your family or planning your evening.

The same is true for riding a bike or driving a car. We have so many of these subconscious ‘programmes’. Think about brushing your teeth, having a shower, driving to work….you do these on autopilot without having to think about each single action.

So this is our subconscious mind. It takes in all of those 11 million pieces of new information per second, stores all this into ‘files’ and creates ‘programmes’ from it. This enables us to do many things ‘on autopilot’ while we get on with other stuff. Incredibly useful!

The danger of the subconscious mind

However sometimes the subconscious mind can actually be very unhelpful. Some of these programmes it has built up are destructive. Take a look at the following examples:

  • Limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never be rich”

  • Bad habits like smoking or biting your nails.

  • Destructive behaviours like over-reacting to things or always thinking the worst.

There is a myriad of ‘crap’ in our subconscious minds that is simply holding us back.

I know when I was about five years old I drew a picture of a horse next to a washing line (odd subject choice I know!). I had no concern about whether it was good or not – it was just my drawing. But the teacher told me it was terrible and she came up and wrote on it “Lindsay this is terrible”. So that information went straight into my subconscious and opened up a ‘no good at drawing’ file. And the next time I would be required to draw something,my subconscious would go into its ‘past experience files’ and say “yep I remember this drawing thing – nah you’re rubbish at that, you can’t do it”. And so the programme begins.

The problem and the solution

Here’s another problem – we only use our conscious mind 5% of the time. The other 95% of the time we’re using our subconscious. So all of those plans, logical decisions etc…they’re competing against 95% of automatic responses, habits and behaviours. You can see who’s going to win! And this is why we can get so stuck.

So…. enter the magic of hypnosis! When you’re in hypnosis we bypass your conscious mind and talk straight to that pesky old subconscious; giving it new suggestions, beliefs, habits and behaviours. Ones that actually work for you rather than against you. As that little furry meerkat on TV says; simples.

I am a qualified Coach and Hypnotherapist, offering coaching, hypnotherapy and my powerful 'fusion' sessions. Find out more.

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