The ‘human mind’ can be characterised by two parts. The top part or outer layer is our conscious mind, responsible for the day to day decision-making processes. It processes reason, logic, analysis, language, mathematics, short term memory, intelligence and our Ego. The conscious mind likes routine and is a creature of habit. It may only make up 5% of our mind, but it is ‘supposedly in charge’!
In contrast, our subconscious or unconscious mind is the main hidden part and is responsible for our emotions. It is in control of 95% of our mind, constantly awake and alert, it records everything we do and feel. Its purpose is to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and keep us safe, it always has a positive intention to protect and help us even if the results are harmful.
The subconscious mind works with feelings, images and metaphors, it is concerned with memories, creativity, imagination, recognition and our dreams. It is built on habituation and takes everything literally, learning through repetition and the intensity of our emotions. It has a strong reactive survival mechanism, that overrides everything else regardless of logic, reasoning or outside circumstances and takes the course of least resistance, so be careful what you ask it to do. If we don’t give it useful instructions then it takes them from elsewhere., advertising, peer pressure, parental and cultural programming, as well as suggestion. The subconscious mind doesn’t process negatives. Negativity is a conscious mind concept. So, when someone says, or you say, “Don’t worry, don’t be stupid”. The subconscious mind hears “worry and stupid” and this creates anxiety.
Importantly, the subconscious mind controls our autonomic nervous system, all of our internal organs and body functioning are dependent on our subconscious mind. So our mind affects our body and our body affects our mind.
If we want to be physically fit, healthy and well, then we need to look after and apply ourselves, take physical exercise, eat healthily and make appropriate self-care choices. Likewise, to be mentally fit, healthy and well, we need to be able to manage/regulate our emotions and learn not to react from our emotional states. In order to do this, we need to understand how our mind works.
Our conscious mind looks ahead, plans the future and rationalises. Whilst, the subconscious mind acts in the moment. It catalogues our experiences and filters the information coming in through our senses, so we don’t overwhelm ourselves with information. It does this by filtering what is familiar and already programmed into us. For much of the time, we go through life on “automatic pilot”. daydreaming, not aware of what is going on around us. How often have you driven home from work without being aware of how you got there? To change this pattern you have to become purposely aware. Feed your mind with positive intentions and desired results, not with obsessive, unhealthy and destructive thoughts. The subconscious mind learns through habituation, so keep practising healthy thoughts. There are some helpful apps that play subliminal affirmations directly into the subconscious mind, such as Subliminal: Affirmations on the App Store, or www.appannie.com, these can help to reprogramme unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours.
I like to think of the conscious mind as a gardener and the subconscious mind as a garden with fertile soil. Cultivate and look after your garden otherwise, you will be overrun with weeds. Be very careful with what you plant as that’s what you will grow.
Stay safe and well Pip x