Mind the Gap

Our subconscious minds have no sense of humour, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image.  What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives.

Robert Collier

I’m guessing that if you have read this and this you may well be in a state of total flux and not entirely sure how on earth you are going to keep saying ‘can’ and not ‘can’t’, whilst eschewing the dubious ‘pleasures’ of your bad habit(s).

Not to worry, I was the same but at some point in my many cake eating sessions I realised that not only was I putting the wrong things into my body but my mind as well.  That sounds a lot more profound that it was and probably more a case of common sense stopping by for a chat!

But before I frighten you off, please be assured that this is not going to turn into an in-depth treatise on the power of the stuff between your ears.  Firstly, I’m not nearly clever enough to do such a thing and secondly, life is just too flippin’ short.

I’ve long had a fairly basic knowledge about the workings of the mind but I had never grasped how phenomenally powerful the unconscious (oft referred to as subconscious) mind is, and what a fantastically enabling tool for change it can be if used in the right way.

I guess we all know that we are capable of doing things in an unconscious state (and I don’t mean sudden understanding the morning after the night before … but, hey, if the cap fits ….) – meaning all the many times we do something without really thinking about it, such as our morning routine. Can you imagine what a complete drag it would be if we had to stop and remember how to do something every time we do it?  Fortunately we don’t have to because our unconscious mind does that for us, leaving us free to make conscious decisions.

I did try to gain a fuller understanding as to the reasoning behind this but, seriously, I lost the will to live at ‘Default Mode Network’ which has something to do with our brains showing activity even when we are actually doing bugger all (ish)! (I think …).

I much prefer to think of such activity as ‘Safe Mode’ – a bit like when the computer goes bat shit and then those two little words appear on the screen. I believe that the unconscious mind is ours – it protects us and what we have learnt so we don’t have to tie ourselves in knots trying to remember everything from scratch.

I’ve no doubt that my explanation will have at least one boffin wanting to beat me about the head with their scaled down model of the Hadron Collider, but it’s the explanation I understand, and I intend to stick with it.

After all, no one can say with absolute certainty how our mind works, but if you get into the idea that our conscious mind is the one at the front in full, living and immediate technicolour, enabling us to make our conscious decisions and giving us our spontaneous actions, whilst our unconscious mind is the slightly blurry one at the back working quietly away, then I don’t think you will go far wrong.

The important thing to be understood is that there is a huge gap in ability and power between the unconscious mind and the conscious one, and it is that gap we really need to be aware of, so we can gain maximum benefit.

The danger is that if we feed too much detrimental information, whether by thought or action, back to our unconscious mind then it will store everything indefinitely and we can end up in a spiral of negative actions and behaviour. That is why I believe even the most basic understanding of our unconscious can pay dividends for wellbeing.

So, here is a little taster as to its workings –

It’s here and now …

Yep, at this precise moment our unconscious is running the functions in the body – from the heart pumping to food digestion (… all that cake!) and fighting infection, – thus ensuring that we don’t have to consciously think about any of them as it deals with it all in the blink of your eye (which we don’t have to think about either!).

It goes back a long way ….

There is much consensus that suggests a huge amount of what is in our unconscious mind arrived there in the first six or so years of our lives and stays for ever more – that is a scary thought – particularly if your first six years were not exactly wonderful.

… and it stores our memories and behaviour patterns exactly how it wants

It will decide exactly how they are stored and where and tends to lock in our behaviour patterns for future use. It is also not beyond hiding our unpleasant memories very deeply until we are able to process them though, unfortunately, it decides when that is and not us!

It’s a darned fast learner …

Which is great, but the downside is that it not only picks things up quickly, it tends to piece together the information it has been given in the way it will understand and not us. So if you had a bad experience at some point then the unconscious mind is certainly not backwards about lumping such experience together with whatever situation you were in, and keeping a keen eye out for similar experiences to protect you from in the future, even though the experience and the situation may have had nothing to do with each other.

… but you must be clear about the message you give it …

Your unconscious mind has a very black and white approach to the messages you send it and will have a completely literal interpretation of them.  If, for example, you say that a certain colleague’s voice gives you a headache, then you can bet that good old unconscious will figure out the best way to give you a headache every time ‘Screechy’ comes within hearing distance.

… and certainly avoid overloading it

I know everyone swears by the power of positive affirmations – I’m not the biggest fan but I accept that one or two can good. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to bombard your mind with oodles of them, which I’m guessing may be something along the lines of throw enough and some are sure to stick!  This will just send the unconscious mind haywire and cause a lot of confusion which, in turn, will bugger up the positive intention completely.

It’s a tad moral in outlook

In that it will store the moral influences you had instilled in you when you were young which, whether good or bad influences, your unconscious mind will still return to, even years late when your conscious mind may have rejected such influences.

… not to mention emotional

It can be the gift that keeps on giving when it wants to warn you, rightly or wrongly, that it perceives you to be in danger – tears, palpitations and sweaty hands anyone?

Finally, a big plus is to understand that it can’t process negatives …

It is a bit of a tinker in picking up key words and turning them into pictures so it can understand better, and as it can’t actually make a picture out of a negative (Yes, I know, we can but it can’t!) then it will latch on to that you have said and switch to the positive so it can paint produce the picture.  Therefore, be careful what you suggest – for example, leaving your manager’s office muttering to yourself that you don’t want to be a feeble mouse anymore will enable your unconscious mind to paint a picture of the little rodent who will, subsequently, be trotted out every time you want to be assertive causing you to end up with a feeble squeak!

That’s about it – not overly scholarly but enough, I would hope, to help us all remember that gray matter does matter and we really do need to ‘Mind the Gap!

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