What’s The Unconscious Mind?
First and foremost, let’s talk about what the unconscious mind is.
It is, pretty simply, the part of your mind (and of you) that you’re not necessarily consciously aware of.
There’s a lot that goes on at the unconscious level.
You’ve probably more often heard it called the ‘subconscious’, but in the circles I run in, we don’t use that word.
Because ‘sub’ has the implication that something is EITHER inferior somehow (which your unconscious mind definitely isn’t) or that it’s underneath something else (which it’s really also not).
so what is it?
It’s the part of you that helps run on autopilot.
It’s all of your mind that isn’t you having conscious thoughts or focus that you’ve chosen.
What do I mean by that?
Well, when something happens or goes wrong, you might end up focusing on it quite a lot, overthinking it and mulling it over or going back and forth in your head.
That’s all conscious thought.
The things that you choose to worry about, though, often come from something deeper.
If you’re worrying about an interview, for example, then the underlying problem might be ‘I don’t believe I’m good enough to get this job’ or ‘I’m not confident enough’.
Whether you consciously think that or not, your worries and fears are the lower level problem that’s coming from somewhere else… that belief you have about yourself or your abilities.
That’s your unconscious.
THAT’S what your unconscious mind is storing and maintaining.
It holds your beliefs that you have about yourself, the things you fear or are afraid of in any way, the habits you’ve formed, the values that you hold (about your life, your work, your relationships, or anything else).
So it keeps those in the store cupboard of your mind and that’s how it chooses to run your behaviour, your responses to things – based on what you’ve got held in there.
so it’s not ‘subconscious’ because…?
Well, think about the list of things it’s maintaining and doing (and that’s not the end of the list, by the way).
It holds your memories, your feelings, beliefs, values, habits, and so on.
That’s definitely not an ‘inferior’ version of your mind.
It’s running all the programs that pretty much make you who you are and define your personality.
Doesn’t deserve the ‘sub’ prefix there.
And let’s also think about whether it’s underneath anything.
If it’s running your habits, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, pretty much all of that is going to have an impact (positively or negatively) on your behaviour.
Your behaviours are going to pretty much define what your outcomes are going to be.
What you do determines your results.
That’s not ‘underneath’ anything else… that’s…. pretty much everything there is.
isn’t the subconscious a freudian thing?
Mate, we’ve talked about this.
sorry, the unconscious.
And the answer is: yes and no.
Freud is one of the psychoanalysts who’s most famous for talking about the unconscious mind (and yes, he did call it the subconscious).
But he had a pretty limited view about what that part of you is.
He basically said it’s all about what you’ve repressed about yourself (thoughts, desires, fears) because you’re either afraid of it or because you don’t like it.
Which is a fairly half-decent theory for someone who worked in the early 1900s… but he wasn’t the first person to ever talk about your unconscious mind.
And it is also limited in terms of what your mind actually does – it’s far more than just fears and repressed thoughts, feelings, or memories.
One of the first times the unconscious mind was ever mentioned or suggested was back in the 18th Century – and actually, it’s really been acknowledged for a lot longer than that, it’s just that no one really called it the unconscious mind.
To this day, we’re still discovering parts of us that are influenced by, or come from, the unconscious mind. One of the hardest things to do is put a limit or definition on what it does or doesn’t cover, because… well, because it’s unconscious. We’re still figuring it out, but we know a lot more about it now than Freud did.
why’s it such a big deal?
This week, I posted on Instagram a quote from Carl Jung (who worked with Freud but they didn’t agree on everything).
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.– Carl Jung
He was a smart man, our Jung.
What your unconscious mind usually does is repeats itself.
Like I said, it manages your habits, thoughts, and feelings.
And often, you’re on autopilot.
The behaviours you do, the habits you follow, the way you feel about or respond to certain things (people, situations, concepts), those things don’t really change, because it’s hard to change those things consciously.
That’s why, if you look back over your life, you might notice that you’ve experienced similar problems cropping up over and over again.
Because deep down, the habits you do, your beliefs about yourself, the patterns you run, haven’t changed.
Does that make it impossible to change?
Of course not!
It’s just that consciously trying to change those things can be a bit of a challenge – in fact, you might have found that out the hard way in your time! How easy it is to fall back into your old ways, no matter how hard you try.
But that’s why understanding your unconscious mind is so important.
Understanding what it does and how it impacts your life.
Because otherwise, you’ll end up caught in the same patterns forever!
And that’s what we try and avoid using NLP.
Rather than consciously trying to change a behaviour, we can resolve issues at the unconscious level, which automatically changes and fixes any issues that you might struggle to change consciously.
If you want to learn more, I’ll soon be adding free online resources – follow Freeborn Academy on Facebook here to stay up to date.