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What exactly are we talking about when we talk about the subconscious mind? Does it in some way imply the presence of more than one mind? Does the idea of partial consciousness then imply levels of consciousness such that one can be fully conscious, partially conscious and totally unconscious?
The concept of three levels of mind was first put forward by renowned Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud. He drew a model of the mind in which he separated it into 3 tiers- the conscious mind, the preconscious or subconscious mind and the unconscious mind.
The 3 Levels of Consciousness
Freud’s delineation of the mind into 3 distinct levels, each with specific roles was as such.
- The conscious mind. This is the surface level which contains all the thoughts, feelings and wishes you are aware of at any given time. It is the level through which we perceive our environment. It is the aspect of our mental processing which we can think about, talk about and express rationally.
- The subconscious mind. This is a level of partial consciousness which stores all memories and experiences from the past. Here the mind keeps information which has been repressed or just consciously forgotten because it is deemed unimportant at the time. It is from this level that our habits, fears, beliefs, instinctual impulses and general behaviors are formed.
- Unconscious mind. This deepest level is the storehouse for feelings, urges, thoughts and memories outside of conscious awareness. These are usually unpleasant thoughts and memories like conflict, pain and anxiety.
To understand how the 3 work together, let’s take the analogy of the working of a computer. Imagine your mind as a computer.
Your conscious mind is comparable to the keyboard and monitor. Just like data is input via the keyboard and is then displayed on the monitor, information from the external environment is taken in and thrown into your consciousness.
Your subconscious mind is like the RAM of a computer. The RAM is where the computer stores data and programs that are currently in use so they can be accessed quickly and easily. You phone number, home address and such basic information are stored in your subconscious because they are accessed often.
Your unconscious mind is like the hard disk drive of a computer. It is for long term, bulk storage. Here you find memories and experiences stored since birth.
Value of Tapping into Your Subconscious Mind
Now that you understand the different levels of consciousness, why does it matter anyway? What is the value of tapping into your subconscious mind? The answer to this question lies in the now infamous law of attraction.
It states that whatever you think about, believe strongly, feel intensely about and talk about, you bring about in your life. In essence, the contents of your subconscious mind eventually become the realities in your conscious life.
Your ability to succeed in every area of your life be it career wise, financially or in your relationships begins at the level of your subconscious mind.
The secret is in learning how to tap into your subconscious mind to activate the power it holds. The beauty is that every last one of us has a wealth of power within. The sad fact is that very few of us know how to tap into it.
How to Activate the Power of Your Subconscious Mind
Jack Canfield, along with many other proponents of the law of attraction have written extensively on various techniques which you can use to create seemingly impossible achievements and successes. These are some techniques they talk about.
Visualization exercises are generally about you imagining situations where the goal you want to achieve is already achieved. You could also opt to visualize from a third person perspective. In this sense you don’t imagine yourself doing what you have always wanted to do but instead see pictures of yourself doing it from an outsider’s perspective.
If your goal is to set up a beauty salon for instance, you could visualize yourself working at the salon. From a third person perspective, you see yourself as others would see you going about your work at your salon.
Multi-sensory visualization. A deeper form of visualization is what experts call multi-sensory visualization. In this case you not only visualize yourself living your dream but you also feel the feelings you would feel if you were actually there. You involve other senses (besides sight) in your dream.
You create a multi-sensory experience in your mind. If all you did before was visualize yourself working at your beauty salon, now when you close your eyes you can also smell the shampoo and hair spray in the air, hear a hair drier blowing in the distance and the happy chatter of contented clients in the air.
Living ‘As If‘
Living ‘as if’ means finding ways to live your life as though the thing you desire has already come to be. Walk with your head held, high, with the pride you would if your goal was achieved.
If you are working at a job you hate and are hoping to land that dream job, stop dressing drab and waiting to dress up all smart when the dream job comes. Start dressing at your current job like you would for the dream job.
Living as if doesn’t have to make sense in the natural. If you are single and praying for a spouse, why not make space in your closet for someone else. No one has to know why one of your drawers has been empty for the last couple of months. Only you know it is for your spouse’s clothes… when they eventually come along.
Questioning negative beliefs
Negative beliefs about ourselves are what keep us from even attempting to achieve our goals. You would love to set up a business but something in you keeps reminding you that you can’t because you suck at marketing so how would you even start selling your business
Whenever negative thoughts like these creep into your mind, ask yourself where the message came from. Have the courage to interrogate yourself to find out the origin of this thinking. At what point in your past did you first feel like you were terrible at marketing? This helps you trace the origin of the negative thoughts.
If the voice of your fifth grade teacher telling you that you will never amount to anything still haunts you today, realizing that the teacher was just an ignorant, hurt individual out to hurt others makes you realize it had nothing to do with you. Once an origin is identified, it becomes a lot easier to reject that thought as a truth in your life.
Your subconscious mind carries within it limitless power to change your life. Your thoughts, both conscious and unconscious are what bore your current experience of life. Some have compared the subconscious mind to the soil in a garden. It simply nurtures what you put into it. Whatever grows out of it is directly linked to what you planted.
This is why it is so important to take control of your thoughts and subsequently tap into the power which comes out of positive, intentional thinking.