I am infinitely interested in ways to become more “awake”, more present & more immersed in the flow of life. There is no question that the mind is vast and that we only actively use a piece of its abilities at present. Theories about the expansion of our consciousness address ways to “shape” our mind or “train” the subconscious mind to serve us consciously.
The issue: I have found that when I come up against a really deeply-ingrained bad habit or really profound negative belief that I can’t seem to shake, no amount of “affirmations” or positive thoughts seem to break through. It feels like I am trying to “force” myself to be something I am not. Forcing is never a good thing. It does not work.
Have you run into this? If so, there is a different way to view and understand our mind that creates far greater potential for positive changes without “pushing”!
Today I am sharing a large excerpt of a brilliant article from Psychology Today, Conscious of the Unconscious, and I hope that its author Matthew B. James, Ph.D. knows how much I respect his work. He honors the “wisdom” of the unconscious mind, rather than treating it as a mere recording device for information that has no sense of it’s own. He uses techniques such as Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), Huna from the Hawaiian culture and Jungian principles to explore and help us expand our relationship with out unconscious without “forcing” things. He writes:
The unconscious mind:
Preserves the body: One of its main objectives is the survival of your physical body. It will fight anything that appears to be a threat to that survival. So if you want to change a behavior more easily, show your unconscious how that behavior is hurting your body.
Runs the body: The unconscious handles all of your basic physical functions (breathing, heart rate, immune system, etc.). Huna believes that the unconscious holds the blueprint of your body as it is now and also the blueprint of your perfect health. Rather than telling the unconscious what perfect health looks like, try asking it what it knows and what you need for better health.
Is like a 7-year old child: Like a young child, the unconscious likes to serve, needs very clear directions, and takes your instructions very literally. So if you say, “This job is a pain in the neck,” your unconscious will figure out a way to make sure that your neck hurts at work! The unconscious is also very “moral” in the way a young child is moral, which means based on the morality taught and accepted by your parents or surroundings. So if you were taught that “sex is nasty,” your unconscious will still respond to that teaching even after your conscious mind has rejected it.
Communicates through emotion and symbols: To get your attention, the unconscious uses emotions. For example, if you suddenly feel afraid, your unconscious has detected (rightly or wrongly) that your survival is at risk.
Stores and organizes memories: The unconscious decides where and how your memories are stored. It may hide certain memories (such as traumas) that have strong negative emotions until you are mature enough to process them consciously. When it senses that you are ready (whether you consciously think you are or not!), it will bring them up so you can deal with them.
Does not process negatives: The unconscious absorbs pictures rather than words. So if you say, “I don’t want to procrastinate,” the unconscious generates a picture of you procrastinating. Switching that picture from the negative to the positive takes an extra step. Better to tell your unconscious, “Let’s get to work!”
Makes associations and learns quickly: To protect you, the unconscious stays alert and tries to glean the lessons from each experience. For example, if you had a bad experience in school, your unconscious may choose to lump all of your learning experiences into the “this is not going to be fun” category. It will signal you with sweaty palms and anxiety whenever you attempt something new. But if you do well in sports, your unconscious will remember that “sports equals success” and you’ll feel positive and energized whenever physical activity comes up. (Full article is HERE)
So, waking up and working with this “unconscious” wisdom in your life can be a real way to make changes without “forcing” them. Some activities thought to bring you more into communication with your subconscious mind: making art, meditation, time in nature, silent retreat, breathing exercises, creative visualization, spiritual practice, physical exercise… even house-cleaning!
Here’s to a more awake life in greater flow and personal power! xoxo Dana
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