The Subconscious: Friend or Foe?
The subject of the subconscious is certainly a vast one. The most obvious point is that it operates below your conscious awareness. That point itself is obvious, but the ramifications can be subtle and often go unnoticed. Consider the following ideas as possibly valid. Based on your experience and knowledge, draw your own conclusions. Know and honor what is true for you.
The subconscious performs many helpful tasks so you don’t have to make a conscious effort to think in order to accomplish them. Have you ever been driving down the road and suddenly realized you’d gone two miles without paying attention to the road, your driving or to anything on the planet at all? Your subconscious, in control of your actions at the time, got you safely down the road.
Consider the possibility that the subconscious also has a built-in video camera and the ability to tape your life. Like a security camera at a bank or convenience store, it’s taping 24/7. When you are remembering something, you are in essence watching your own personal video. When there is any hint of trouble or danger, the subconscious sets off alarms, much faster than you can think. This is sometimes known as a "knee-jerk reaction." There are times when you need this "industrial strength" security system. You step off the curb not looking, while a Mac truck is barreling down the road in your direction. The subconscious will "see" it, even if you don’t consciously see it, and the alarms go off. Just in time you look up and jump out of the way. This security system can literally save your life.
The purpose of this mechanism is to help us, and it does help us, but it can also interfere and sometimes can be more of a hindrance than a help. It can be friend or foe. The problem with the subconscious is that it has the ability to step in and take over your conscious thinking processes, emotions and behavior, without your awareness or your permission, when you don’t need it. Let’s say that you once had a very troubled relationship with a person who wore a particular brand of cologne. Your subconscious will dutifully make a note of that and will also conclude, quite "logically," by its calculations, that "all people who use that cologne cause trouble."
Ridiculous, you say! Yes, it’s ridiculous and it’s illogical – but that seems to be how the subconscious works. The context from which it operates is mechanical, and as such, it can’t discriminate between "one" and "all." The subconscious uses the past as proof that the present or the future will be exactly the same; that is, that the present and future will match the past, match it precisely. In the example, then, one person who wears that cologne and causes trouble is unequivocal "evidence" that all people who wear that cologne cause trouble. That is an example of the "logic" of the subconscious, and just imagine what happens every time you are around another person who wears that cologne! With your physical eyes you see that specific individual; at the same time, the subconscious is "screaming" at you to beware of impending trouble. The problem is, it’s usually a silent screaming. You don’t hear it. You likely are not aware of it, but nevertheless, it has taken over and is now "telling" you what to feel, what to think, what to do, what choices to make, etc. A key to being successful and powerful is recognizing when the subconscious has jumped in and started "talking" to you.
The subconscious is powerful. Powerful AND mechanical. In addition to being a video camera of sorts, it also has the properties of a computer, another mechanical device. Like a computer, whatever is programmed into it stays there and operates in strict accordance with the program. The good news is, you can change the program!
Ideally, the subconscious and the conscious mind are allies, i.e., aligned and working together, rather than conflicting with each other. When they are not aligned, you have, for example, your conscious mind thinking "I can be rich," while the subconscious is simultaneously operating from the premise, "Money is the root of all evil." Both are contexts. One provides the opportunity for riches, and the other for poverty. Which will win out?
It has been said that the subconscious holds 90% of the "vote." There may be no way to prove this, but if it is even somewhat true, that would mean you are battling with a part of you that ideally should be on your side 100%.
In a way, it is a "software" conflict and fortunately can be solved the same way a computer software conflict is solved. Find out where the conflict is and what it’s all about. Then correct the incompatibility.
Where a computer and the subconscious part ways, analogy-wise, lies in how easy it might be to find the discrepancy. Contrary to some of our experiences, the purpose of a computer is not to hide information from us! However, the subconscious, with its purpose to protect you, has the propensity to hide information, burying it deep and covering it up with clever camouflage.
Delving into the subconscious by oneself can be a lot like walking through a dark maze and a hall of mirrors all at once. There can be twists and turns, dead-ends and distortion, with the end result often being confusion or feeling lost. This isn’t always the case but it often is, and that is the value of having knowledge, awareness, and someone on your team who can support you in seeing from multiple perspectives and help you walk the maze, get through to the other side and back out into the sunshine once again.
The "sunshine" is where we started. More accurately, it’s not a place; it is our natural state. It is who we are, and it’s impossible to ever leave it or lose it. But it is possible to think that we have and that we then need to go searching, trying to get back to what we never left or lost in the first place. Such is the irony of this game of life on our planet.
One way to be winning in the game is to have many perspectives on the same subject. We could call that an expanded context. The ideas presented above may or may not be new to you, and you may or may not agree with them. In the Big Picture, it is having many perspectives that is empowering because it gives you more choices from which to draw your own conclusions. That is freedom; that is personal sovereignty. That is the "sunshine" of who you are, and you don’t have to "get back there." You are there, whenever you are just being YOU.
There is no need to be governed by the subconscious. YOU have the power to govern it, and use it as a tool to support you in your life. That is its intended use. It just needs a leader and some guidance in how to best serve you.
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