“Remember that your dominating thoughts attract, through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what your thoughts dwell upon.”
- Napolean Hill
In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to align your conscious mind with your subconscious mind from a wide range of experts.
Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on how to align your conscious and subconscious mind.
You can’t lose weight. You can’t do well on this assignment. You don’t deserve a healthy relationship. You’ll never find a partner. You don’t make enough money. You talk too much. You’re weak.
This is the battle of the conscious versus the subconscious.
Our subconscious is filled with ideas and beliefs that we often don’t even realize we have.
These ideas guide our behavior and decisions and opinions about the world. Sometimes they hold us back from living the best life possible by sabotaging our efforts with negativity. The good news is that there’s something that can be done about it!
Where do these subconscious ideas and beliefs come from?
They are taught to us from the start by our environment. In early life, we adopt the beliefs of the people who raise us. We can learn them either by being directly told (“You’re too fat for anyone to like you”) or by the actions of others (your parents serve you celery sticks and the rest of the family fried chicken).
Later on, we also learn ideas from society, especially about how we should look and how we should behave based on gender and race and many other factors. These ideas dig in deep and stay hidden away in your mind.
If you discover negative self-talk in your thinking, it’s important to pay attention to it.
The key to defeating the power of these subconscious slams is to understand where they come from. If you know that your brother used to call you fat as a child, it’s the first step to recognizing that belief as his opinion and not as fact. Your mind may have believed him back then and carried that belief all these years, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
So, play detective and search out those negative thoughts that creep up in your mind.
When you find one, put it to the test and figure out if it’s worth listening to or a total load of garbage. This is how we bring the conscious closer to the subconscious and continue on the road to knowing ourselves better.
Corinne Martch, MA & Madeleine Boskovitz, PhD - www.iwanttobeme.org
“Your subconscious mind controls all the vital processes of your body. It already knows the answers to your problems and it already knows how to heal you.” Dr. Jill Carnahan
How many times have you thought that you can only be happy when you become more successful, better looking, or financially secure?
Do you believe that your happiness, sense of well-being, and value as a person come from your outside circumstances? Are you afraid of letting go of the past, holding on to the pain that keeps dragging you down?
When you mistakenly start believing this, it is natural to experience fear, overwhelm, and stress because you believe that to be happy and fulfilled you need to reach a certain point or depend on someone’s approval.
But no matter how hard you work or how well you plan your life, you always find yourself lagging behind and comparing yourself to others. This, without a doubt, leads to unworthiness, self-sabotage and aversion to change.
The truth is that whatever you hold in your mind will tend to happen in your life. If you continue to believe and act as you always have, you will get what you’ve always gotten.
The good news is that this can be reversed but to do this, you have to change your mind.
Reprogramming your thinking takes a great deal of practice, but it is possible and it can happen for you. You just have to keep moving forward by taking small steps each day. This means that to choose love you will have to let go of fear because it is impossible to be in both places at the same time.
While there are numerous effective ways to align your conscious mind with your subconscious mind, there is one that has always helped me and that is writing. Journaling, to be precise. Here is a simple but powerful exercise that will help you to get out of the darkness and start living the life you deserve.
1. It is important to do this exercise in a quiet, peaceful place where you will not be disturbed.
Sitting alone with your thoughts and putting yourself on the spotlight works wonders especially when you don’t know where these thoughts are coming from and how to stop them from ruining every aspect of your life. When you take time to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, knowing that there is no one to judge you or reprimand you if you make a mistake, your thoughts will flow more easily.
2. Start with writing down all your disempowering thoughts - all the limiting beliefs that you made up about yourself as a result of an incident that occurred in the past - quickly and intensely. No matter how bizarre or scary they may seem, just keep writing.
3. Remember that no one will ever read what you wrote, most probably not even you so don’t stop until you get everything out.
This incredible moment when you dump everything that is polluting your mind on paper is the moment that will liberate you.
4. Now stop and give it a second to realize how you feel.
What feeling prevails? What incident from your past comes up as you continue to go through your thoughts? Let your self-damaging thoughts settle and your overwhelmed mind calm down. Understand that success and happiness start in your mind and can be yours anytime. Don't forget that you can have anything you want in life, when you give up the belief that you can’t have it.
5. After you finish writing, take a moment to do a short visualization exercise.
Close your eyes and imagine that you are in a dark, frightening place. The only way out of the darkness is to let the light shine in your mind. And to bring the light, imagine that you are holding a flashlight in your hand. It only takes a second to switch it on and completely change the mindset from darkness to beauty. Press the switch now.
Whenever you feel those insidious, self-destructing thoughts trying to overcome your mind, remember that you have the power to switch the light on.
Feed your subconscious mind with love and let that beautiful light become your reality.
Tee Sebastién, Life Coach - www.growbrilliant.org
When I think about making a big change in my life, I typically mull it over for a while.
I look at the pros and cons, the effort level it will take, and also plan for the change. The longer I sit on it, the more my negative self-talk increases, saying things like “You’re going to fail” and “This will never work”. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want to quit before I ever start!
This negative self-talk comes from my deep subconscious—the place where my past failures, shame, and unworthiness stems. It’s the part of my brain that reminds me that I’ve messed up before—and I’m doomed to do it again. So how does one get past this?
Focus on the positive
When the negative self-talk starts, learn to focus on the positive. Remind yourself of past successes and times when you have accomplished goals. Recall how it feels when you do something great, whether that was a weight loss goal or even completing a task at work. Use positive self-talk to encourage yourself.
Use thought-stopping techniques
When you notice your brain is going down the path to nowhere good, tell yourself “STOP!” and redirect the thought. Don't allow your brain to entertain the negativity. Some people find that wearing a rubber band and snapping it when they catch themselves in a negative swirl is helpful.
Find the root cause
The way our parents speak to us as children become our inner voice as adults. If you grew up in a home where you were verbally berated or criticized, this may be your subconscious/negative self-talk that you hear now. Find a good therapist who can help you process your upbringing and family of origin issues to help alleviate the negative impact of your inner voice.
Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW – www.imaginehopecounseling.com
Our unconscious mind is extremely powerful, much more than our conscious mind.
Dr. Catherine Collautt states in her interview with Marie Forleo, that 97% of our thoughts are unconscious and autonomic similar to how our heart beats and our eyes blink.
A measly 3% of our thoughts are conscious.
Picture the image of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents our conscious mind. We are conditioned to only believe in and trust what is tangible and what we see and are conscious of.
The vast portion of the iceberg underneath the water represents our unconscious mind, taking up 97% of our thoughts.
How influential and powerful our unconscious mind and thoughts are.
We can align our unconscious mind with our conscious mind by simply practicing attunement within ourselves.
Through the quiet still moments in our lives, insights, ideas, and deep inner thoughts come to us with clarity and conviction.
Tapping into our unconscious mind takes attuning to the inner landscape of our psyche.
Our bodies hold memories, thoughts, and instincts. Beginning to trust and follow our instincts leads us to understanding our unconscious mind.
When we are out of alignment, we feel stuck, we make self-sabotaging choices, and we behave in ways that steer us away from our deepest goals, desires, and intentions.
This is where we should be placing our focus, energy, and attention.
By focusing on what I refer to as the incongruences in our lives, we can discover deep truths about ourselves.
We have the parts of ourselves that we’d like to believe are true. It is more challenging to explore the vast information about ourselves which confuse us.
When we’re still and can attune to our inner life, we get in touch with our shadow selves.
Developing a practice of attunement, stillness, trusting our instincts, exploring our inner lives, and questioning ourselves helps align us with our authenticity.
We can then remove blocks in our lives holding us back and move forward toward our goals and deepest desires.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
We create our reality.
Our lives are shaped by our thoughts and attitudes, beliefs and values. Yet sometimes, these may not help us live the life we want and we aren't even aware of what's happening.
That's because we can only see what we can see, what we are consciously aware of.
We won't see what's hindering us if the root lies in our unconscious mind. There are many theories about what this part of our mind holds and why it does so. Whatever the theory, all we need to know is that just because it's hidden doesn't make it powerful. It is powerful enough to sabotage our success and our ability to change what needs to be changed, cope with what life brings our way or experience happiness.
Consciously, we may say we want to do something or change something - but if there is a belief deep down that isn't congruent with this, then it's unlikely we will succeed.
For instance, if our belief is that we will never find love or happiness, we simply won't. It's really that profound because nearly all of us just look for the evidence that backs our belief up, and filter out what doesn't support that.
An exercise I do in most of my classes and coaching is to ask people how they think of life. Fill in the blanks to "Life is.."
I get all sorts of answers. Including the ones they think I want to hear. But when people are honest, I hear things like "life's a bitch, a hard slog, a struggle, one thing after another, lonely."
I get them to see that having such a fundamental belief means they look for evidence for it to be true, and build on that by the stories they remember and tell. As a result, their reality persists in being a hard slog. I changed my life, built resilience and gratitude in to it by deciding to see life as an adventure. When life is an adventure, there may be challenges but there will usually be fun too - and whatever happens, I'm going to learn something about my abilities, courage and spirit.
So how do we change what we do if the unconscious is so powerful?
By bringing these beliefs out into the open by simply starting to notice what our beliefs are. There are many clues, from where you find yourself unexpectedly upset or passionate about something or even just in the language you use - the idioms and metaphors we use regularly, or the words that "pop out" in "Freudian slips."
Journaling is a really useful tool for discovery, when you write honestly and freely in a stream of consciousness.
Only later, when you review what you have written will you see evidence of your beliefs. Occasionally you will shock yourself when a belief is uncovered and you realise it's limited your life up to that point.
Keeping a notebook with you all the time will help you capture your thinking too (or start noting what you say to yourself or others down on your phone , as you are more likely to have that on you).
Ask yourself if there might be a hidden belief that is not helpful any more and listen to what immediately pops into your head and how your gut feels
Work with a coach, counsellor or psychotherapist who will ask the questions that help you see what's holding you back or not supporting your growth or happiness.
Once you've started to notice things, here are some ways to change your beliefs.
Question that belief.
Is it really true? All the time? In all circumstances? Throughout your life? Is it true for other people? Is this your belief or have you inherited it from family or people in positions of authority in the past?
Deliberately change a viewpoint. If life was adventure, what fun might I find - and what courage might I find to deal with challenges?
Start to retrain your brain by using affirmations.
You've created neural pathways that support your beliefs and drive your reactions to date. So it might take some time to create a new neural pathway - but your brain is much more pliable than you think. Perseverance matters.
Understand the importance of drivers like "should, must, need."
Start thinking in possibilities of practice. You can't do something. Yet.
Imagine how your life might be without this belief.
Does it make you feel powerful, wistful, filled with regret? These are often ways our spirit calls us to listen to our hearts.
If the belief remains partly true, see how you could update it so it really fits who you are now, with all your life experience.
Caroline Johnstone - Coach and Writer – www.daretobehappier.com
Do you find yourself wondering why it is often so difficult to break habits or to change something about yourself that you feel really needs to change?
Change is a universal human problem- we hate it, we love it; we avoid it, we seek it. Sometimes, we seek it for years until, maybe we just give up on it and say, “Oh well, that’s just the way I am.”
When Sigmund Freud identified the aspect of our beings that he called the unconscious, he also recognized that our behavior is often based not on what we consciously think we want, but on what our unconscious mind drives us to do. When he famously said, “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.”, he was identifying an important tool in helping us to understand our unconscious motives.
Carl Jung continued the research into dream language and also identified the collective unconscious, which links us all to the memories and experiences and dreams of humanity. So, in many ways, we are not only influenced by our own life experiences, but also by the beliefs and expectations of our collective society and culture.
By bringing our unconscious drives and motives up into the light of consciousness, we can begin to understand them and examine why these drives and urges are often at odds with what we consciously want to do or be, or how we want to act.
This begins the process of integration; when one has integrity, one is able to behave in the way one chooses to behave, as one’s unconscious drives are either integrated into our consciousness, or dissolved by the light of understanding.
We may be driven by beliefs that we are unworthy of love, or of success, or of happiness. These seeds of belief can be planted by people and institutions that may have our best interests at heart, or they may be planted by abuse or neglect we experience in childhood.
By paying attention to our dreams, we can learn about what is going on while we sleep, when the conscious mind is shut down.
Dreams are mysterious because the unconscious speaks in symbols. Jungian and transpersonal therapists work with dream images to help us see what messages our unconscious may be sending us.
The expressive arts and therapies can also be avenues to opening up the unconscious mind; again, because creative images flow from the unconscious mind. By combining dream or art therapy with the practice of active imagination, where the therapist guides us into a reliving of the dream image in a mild trance state, we can gain insight into what is going on in our unconscious mind.
Affirmations and mindfulness are two wonderful tools with which to work on understanding our unconscious drives.
Often, a client may begin to work with affirmations and will find strong resistance to the affirmation. A feeling of the affirmation being a lie or impossible to believe about oneself is a sign that we are living out a belief in our own wrongness or unworthiness; it does not mean the affirmation is a lie , but it means we believe , often unconsciously, that unworthiness is the truth about ourselves.
This is where the work of mindfulness can begin.
We can confront the negative belief and ask ourselves if it is the truth about ourselves or, rather, perhaps a lie we have been told and absorbed into our being? If we can take a moment when such a thought arises and challenge it, we can begin to loosen the habit of negative self-talk. We can challenge beliefs that we may have been carrying for many years.
I really love the Work of Byron Katie and would recommend reading some of her books or looking at her website.
Her method of self-inquiry can be very helpful in learning more about how our unconscious thoughts can be examined and brought into consciousness. Working with a therapist who uses dream therapy or art therapy (or both) can start the process of integrating the unconscious with the conscious mind.
Faye I Maguire, MA, CAT, CAC – www.maguirecounseling.com
Learning to tune into the felt sense in the body is a way to access subconscious information.
In order to align the subconscious mind with the conscious, we need to bring into awareness the material that by definition lies hidden underneath. We know that we have the ability to reprogram our brains using our intention and awareness, but when conscious and subconscious messages clash, those potential new neural pathways are sabotaged.
Affirmations can actually be damaging when it feels like lying or bullshitting yourself.
It’s helpful to find the place where it can feel true in the body. For example, if “I accept and love myself completely just as I am” generates a sinking pit or twisting in the stomach or a tightening in the chest, your body is telling you that feels like a lie. The body will also let you know when something feels true. There is a resonance that rings like the clear sound of a bell.
Tuning into that sense, maybe using “May I learn to accept and love myself completely just as I am” will ring true and thus really “get in” to generate the formation of that new neural pathway.
Alternatively, imagining the message “I love and accept you completely just as you are” coming from a being who you easily believe could sincerely and unconditionally offer that message to you is likely to be received in a truly resonant way.
For this exercise, the more uncomplicated the relationship, the better; it could be a teacher or mentor you’ve known or learned from in person or through books or audios, a spiritual figure such as an angel, or (my favorite) your dog or cat! The key is to generate the energy of truth in the message, and to feel the truth in the body. The body is your barometer for the alignment of conscious and subconscious.
Wendy Dingee, MS, LCPC, LCADC, BCC – www.livewellnevada.com
Do you ever feel like you’ve got one foot on the gas pedal and another on the brake when you want to reach your goals and create a better life?
If you do, you’ve likely got limiting subconscious beliefs that are not aligned with your conscious goals and desires.
Studies in neuroscience indicate that 95% of our consciousness is actually subconscious.
The subconscious is where our attitudes, values and beliefs are stored. It’s our beliefs that form our perception of the world and ourselves. Our subconscious beliefs are usually the result of years of “programming” from our parents, mass media, and other people that have influenced our lives.
As very young children, we look to the adults in our environment to understand how to perceive the world. Those beliefs stay within our subconscious mind, which is very literal. Even as we grow into adulthood and may consciously see how certain beliefs may not be true, our subconscious mind may not agree. And since it is 95% of our consciousness, it wins out over the goals set by our conscious mind.
Affirmations are often recommended as a way to shift your thinking to create new beliefs and new neural pathways in the brain.
The idea is that when we focus our thinking in new ways, eventually the old neural pathways disconnect and new pathways are formed that reflect what we have been putting our attention on. While that can be effective, a problem occurs when you feel resistance to the affirmation. If you just don’t believe that statement is true for you, the affirmation can backfire, leaving you feeling worse, rather than inspired. Now your focus is on the argument going on inside yourself and not on the new belief and you stay stuck.
One way to by-pass this is to add “I choose” or “I’ve decided” to the beginning of an affirmation.
For example, take the affirmation, “I create my ideal career easily and effortlessly.” While saying that affirmation you notice you feel resistance and all the reasons why it is hard to find your ideal career and land that perfect job start to come up for you.
So, change it to, “ I choose to create my ideal career easily and effortlessly.” Now, you have expressed a choice. Your subconscious mind can’t argue with a choice or a decision. Try out “I’ve decided to create my ideal career easily and effortlessly.” How do those statements feel? Experiment with what feels the best to you.
Another way to shift limiting beliefs is to use a method discovered by Noah St. John, called Afformations.
Afformations are empowering questions that assume what we want is already accomplished.
• Why do I keep getting all these great referrals?
• Why am I so successful?
• Why do I have such a happy life?
• Why did I attract the most loving partner into my life?
• Why do I love being healthy and fit?
• Why am I safe to be who I really am?
• Why is it so easy for me to quit smoking?
• Why do I let myself be loved?
• Why is it OK for me to be incredibly productive?
• Why do I feed my body properly?
• Why are all of my decisions so healthy now?
• Why do I thank God for the abundance in my life today?
When you ask yourself a question, your wonderful brain will automatically go to work to answer the question.
If you’ve been stuck in any area of life, you’ve probably been asking yourself dis-empowering questions, like “Why can’t I loose weight,” or “Why am I always so broke?” When you introduce new, empowering questions, your brain will look for the answers to them and you will be open to new inspired ideas and opportunities.
Here are the steps:
1. Look at all the areas of your life and decide what you want.
2. Create your afformations.
3. Read them daily and write them out. Also, I would suggest recording them and listening to them. There is great benefit in listening your own voice asking these empowering questions.
4. Then, go back to each afformation and decide what action you need to take to support what you want. Yes, you need to take productive action, too! When you take action with your subconscious mind on board, looking for the answers to how you’ve accomplished what you want—you will change your life.
Estra Roell, Life Purpose Coach– www.americaslifepurposecoach.com
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