The human brain is a complex organ comprised of billions of neurons and synaptic connections that work together to regulate and monitor the body’s actions and reactions. This organ is the seat of the human nervous system and responsible for performing millions of routine tasks.
Human beings don’t generally think about their breathing, their eyes blinking, or their heartbeats. These bodily functions continue to perform without thought underneath conscious awareness. People have the ability to hear their own thoughts and respond to their environments in a personally unique fashion. We think about some aspects of our existence yet filter others out of our awareness. These actions are a product of the remarkable human brain or more specifically, the human mind.
Whereas a reference to the brain is a reference to the physical organ, the mind does not exist in a physical sense. The mind is a term used to describe the various functions and roles of the brain; such as self-awareness, behavior, perception and memory.
There are three parts to the mind; the unconscious mind, the conscious mind, and the subconscious mind. These facets of mind are interdependent yet each has its own role and function. Together, these aspects of mind respond to and interpret lived and internal experience.
A common description for these layers of mind is the Iceberg Metaphor. The mind, like an iceberg, is a complete and cohesive unit. When looking at an iceberg, one only sees a small portion of the object – the bulk of the ice remains beneath the surface hidden from view.
Similarly, the conscious mind, the analytical part that we use to navigate our daily experiences, is just a small portion of the mind. Two other important facets of mind remain hidden beneath the surface. Our unconscious mind controls our bodily functions while all of the thoughts, memories, emotions, and feelings held outside of our conscious awareness are stored within the subconscious mind.
The Unconscious Mind
The unconscious mind is the part of the mind that controls all automatic functions so that there is no need to consciously attend to them. This level of human mind holds the control of the basic functions of the human body such as breathing, immunity, heartbeat, digestion, and reflexes. It works underneath conscious awareness, even though the conscious mind can influence some of these functions.
The Conscious Mind
The conscious mind is the analytical part of the mind; the part of the mind that people utilize during most of their waking life to relate to their environment. It analyzes information, rationalizes our behavior, deals in the realm of willpower, and provides us with working short-term memory.
The conscious mind is the intellectual part of mind. It thinks in a linear fashion and uses deductive reasoning, evaluating and judging the environmental stimuli that it acquires through the five senses. It is the logical, analytical part of the mind that helps us make decisions based and draws conclusions about the best course of action based upon the information it processes. It also gives us motives for the things that we do. In this way, our conscious mind rationalizes our behaviors based upon the judgments it has made about our interaction within the environment.
In addition to processing environmental stimuli, the conscious mind serves as the gatekeeper to the subconscious level of mind. It filters the information that reaches the subconscious mind, deciding which beliefs, thoughts or feelings will pass to the subconscious mind.
The Critical Factor of the Conscious Mind
The critical factor of the conscious mind filters the information allowed into the subconscious; it makes decisions about the validity of input based on the way it perceives information from the past.
The conscious mind must do things in a logical fashion and always has a reason for everything it does. It must have a reason to allow any information through to the subconscious mind. If the input from the environment does not mesh with prior programming the incoming information (such as a hypnotic suggestion or an affirmation) will be rejected.
The critical factor evaluates incoming information, including affirmations and hypnotic suggestions, to determine whether or not it matches with current beliefs. If it does, the information slips through and becomes a part of the person. If not, the incoming information is rejected.
It is possible for new information to slip past this innate defense of the conscious mind by suspending the critical factor of the conscious mind so that new information can reach the subconscious. Once a suggestion, affirmation or new idea is accepted by the subconscious mind, it must happen.
The Subconscious Mind
The word subconscious literally means below the conscious. The subconscious mind exists and operates beneath the conscious mind. It is the most powerful level of mind.
The subconscious mind is often compared to a very complex computer program. Unlike the conscious mind, it is not analytical and does not make decisions based on rational judgments. The subconscious mind simply functions off of the programming that it has received via life experiences, personal belief systems, thoughts, and ideas.
All of our life experiences make us the unique individuals that we are. These experiences and our perceptions about them form the basis of the programming installed in the subconscious mind. Every life experience is recorded and their memories are stored permanently within the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind records every experience and all of the information picked up from the environment. It uses each of our five senses to record everything heard, seen, smelled, tasted and touched and stores this information with all memories, facts, ideas and thoughts beneath the surface of the conscious mind. Our conscious mind provides working memory; our subconscious mind stores everything else.
Our memories are recorded based upon our perceptions surrounding the event at the time it occurred. Our beliefs, ideas, perceptions and opinions all color our lived experience, and as such, they influence our memories.
Unlike the conscious mind, the subconscious mind uses inductive reasoning, viewing the environment and stimuli based on its prior programming. It never analyzes, judges, or rationalizes; it merely accepts all information that is passed to it without analysis. It has no ability to analyze information or reprogram itself. It simply acts based on what was programmed into it. Most of this programming occurs early in childhood. Young children use the subconscious level of mind as their primary mode of awareness until their conscious minds begin to develop and gain dominance. The large amount of information taken in by the subconscious mind during these years will form the basis of the belief systems that will be carried with them for a lifetime.
Another task of the subconscious mind is to carry out all of our habituated patterns of behavior, thought, feelings and reactions. This includes our daily rituals, our personal idiosyncrasies, our posture, facial expressions, and even habits such as over-eating or smoking.
The subconscious mind is where the emotions reside and emerge. The conscious mind cannot deal with emotions; these are the realm of the subconscious mind. Any situation involving emotion is automatically processed by the subconscious mind.
Emotions are the root cause of human behavior. They can create pain and pleasure, as such; our emotions determine our propensity towards certain behaviors. The strength of our emotional response is what gives the subconscious dominance over the conscious; our feelings will always overrule any analytical judgment. If there is a conflict between the conscious and subconscious mind – it is the subconscious mind that triumphs. Our memories are intertwined with our emotions. Current experiences often evoke memories from the past with a similar emotional feeling.
The subconscious is also the protective part of the human mind whose primary intention is to protect its host from danger, either real or imagined. It minds cannot differentiate between an imagined event and a realistic one. Any event imagined by the subconscious mind is processed just as though it were actually happening. As a consequence, every suggestion accepted into the subconscious mind is processed as though it were real. It will impact behavior and create change.
Our subconscious mind makes us who we are. It is a catalog of all of our experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and ideas. These provide the programming for our subconscious mind. It must operate based upon the programming placed into it. If that programming is changed it must operate based on the new information.
This is how hypnosis and affirmations work for you. They work to suspend the critical factor of the subconscious mind by route of trance, subliminal pictures, subliminal sounds or repetition to enter the subconscious mind and reprogram old patterns of beliefs.