Are you crazy? What do you mean how is your mind?
Lets face it, most people have no idea what they are thinking or what is going on in their mind.
Are you the person who thinks to themselves “I am just not a motivated person” and prove it by staying stuck where you are, unhappy in your uncomfortable life.
Or are you the person who thinks “well, I could be motivated if I work at it” get enthusiastic about something, start it, then stop what you are doing when you hit a hurdle and go well, that didn’t work.
Or are you the person who thinks “ let’s go for it, I can learn on the way” and when you hit a hurdle look for a way around, under, over or take another path to get to where you want to go.
Most of us are unaware we even think like this, let alone verbalise it, we are either happy to do something or not, and sometimes we are coerced into doing something but really our heart isn’t in it and well it was ok BUT…….
So, how is your mind going? Which of the three groups do you fit into?
How does this fit with getting what I want out of life?
Most of us think we operate out of our conscious mind, we are aware that we have beliefs and behaviours about the world we live in and these are our modus operandi for everyday living.
When we become aware that this operating system is not getting us where we want to be we consciously try and change these beliefs and behaviours using affirmations or other techniques with little or no effect. Journalist Benedict Carey wrote a review of studies on priming the mind called “Who’s Minding the Mind?”, July 31, 2007 –noting.
“More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known. Goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses.
The give and take between these unconscious choices and our rational, conscious aims can help explain some of the more mystifying realities of behavior, like how we can be generous one moment and petty the next, or act rudely at a dinner party when convinced we are emanating charm.
“When it comes to our behavior from moment to moment, the big question is, ‘What to do next?’ ” said John A. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale and a co-author, with Lawrence Williams, of the coffee study, which was presented at a recent psychology conference. “Well, we’re finding that we have these unconscious behavioral guidance systems that are continually furnishing suggestions through the day about what to do next, and the brain is considering and often acting on those, all before conscious awareness. Dr. Bargh added: “Sometimes those goals are in line with our conscious intentions and purposes, and sometimes they’re not.”
Who are these partners that have such strong reactions about the world that seem often at odds with our conscious beliefs, where do they come from, how disruptive are they?
What is the difference between them?
And importantly: How can we change them?
In this series of articles we’ll have a look at how the three minds – conscious, subconscious, and unconscious – work together to create your reality … and how to use that knowledge to change your habits and create a happier, more peaceful and confident you.
Our Human Mind
The concept of three levels of mind is nothing new. Sigmund Freud, that famous psychologist, was probably one of the first to create a useful model of the mind, which he separated into 3 tiers or sections – the conscious mind or ego, the preconscious (subconscious), and the unconscious mind.
The best way to illustrate this concept of the three minds is by using an iceberg. Imagine the area above the water line is your conscious mind. It probably represents about 10% of your brain capacity.
Below this is a slightly larger section that Freud called the preconscious, or more commonly as the subconscious. It is much larger than the conscious mind and accounts for around 50-60% of your brain capabilities.
The section below this is the unconscious mind. It occupies the whole width of the base of the iceberg and fills out the other 30-40% of the iceberg. It is vast and deep and largely inaccessible to conscious thought, a bit like the dark depths of the ocean and in which Freud described as the area where we hold our most socially unacceptable thoughts and desires.
Recent research on the brain suggests our conscious mind is about the size of this “.” on a sheet of paper with our subconscious and unconscious taking up the rest, scary thought isn’t it?
How They Work Together
Generally we think we live from our conscious mind and it is what others associate us by as they react to the results of our thoughts and perceptions in action, our speech, behaviour and actions. But in reality it is only the end result of multiple process in action in our mind.
Your conscious mind is a bit like the captain of a ship standing on the bridge giving out orders. In reality it’s the crew in the engine room below deck (the subconscious and the deeper unconscious) that carry out the orders. The captain may be in charge of the ship and give the orders but its the crew that actually guides the ship, all according to what training they had been given over the years to best do so.
The conscious mind communicates to the outside world and the inner self through speech, pictures, writing, physical movement, and thought.
The subconscious mind, on the other hand, is in charge of our recent memories, and is in continuous contact with the resources of the unconscious mind.
The unconscious mind is the storehouse of all memories and past experiences, both those that have been repressed through trauma and those that have simply been consciously forgotten and no longer important to us. It’s from these memories and experiences that our beliefs, habits, and behaviours are formed.
The unconscious constantly communicates with the conscious mind via our subconscious, and is what provides us with the meaning to all our interactions with the world, as filtered through your beliefs and habits. It communicates through feelings, emotions, imagination, sensations, and dreams.
The unconscious mind also keeps us alive, all those automatic functions such as breathing, heart beat, circulation, metabolism, hormone levels. We don’t consciously tell ourselves to breath or tell our heart to beat
The Mind in Action
The following analogy may help to clarify the concept of how the three minds work a little more.
If you imagine you mind is like a computer …
Your conscious mind is best represented by the keyboard and monitor. Data is inputted on the keyboard and the results are thrown up on the monitor screen. That is how you conscious mind works – information is taken in via some outside (or internal) stimulus from your environment and the results are thrown up instantaneously into your consciousness.
Your subconscious is like the RAM in your computer. For those who don’t know, RAM is the place in a computer where programs and data that are currently in use are kept so they can easily be reached quickly by the computer processor. It is much faster than other types of memory, such as the hard disk or CD-ROM.
Your subconscious works in the same way. Any recent memories are stored there for quick recall when needed, such as what your telephone number is or the name of a person you just met. It also holds your current programs that you run every day, such as your current recurring thoughts, behaviour patterns, habits, and feelings.
Your unconscious is like the hard disk drive in your computer. It is the long term storage place for all your memories and programs that have been installed since birth. These programs are like the software that is installed on your computer – sometimes a virus gets in and wipes out the program or corrupts the memory.
Your unconscious mind (and ultimately your subconscious mind) then uses these programs to make sense of all the data you receive from the world and to keep you safe and ensure your survival. The logic of these two minds is that if it worked in the past and you survived, then it will help you get through similar situations by the same means, no matter how misguided, painful, and unhelpful the results may be to you personally in the outside world.
The different parts of the brain and the mind have been debated for perhaps thousands of years by priests, psychologists, philosophers, and scientists, because it’s very hard to empirically prove they exist. In olden times it was thought spirits controlled some peoples minds and all manner of treatments were employed to remove these spirits. Ancient Chinese doctors described different parts of the brain and mind from the meridians around the body and their effect on a persons behaviour. Today we can look at a persons brain under special imaging techniques and see physical changes when they meditate, read, answer questions and scientists think they are touching the surface of the mind and how it works.
Lets take a journey a little deeper into each part of the mind and see what functions they perform and how we can create lasting change in ourselves.
So, how is your mind?