Henry Ford said, "if you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right!"
For years now, we have been hearing about the power of positive thinking. A question we might ask of those who make this statement is where does this power come from and how do we practically harness this power and knowledge to bring greater health and balance into our own lives?
In 1963, Dr. Joseph Murphy wrote a book called "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind". This classic Self Help title explains that the power behind the thought is the subconscious mind. Although we really have only one mind, students of the mind typically separate the mind into two functional aspects (conscious and subconscious), each with its own attributes and powers. It turns out that it’s the thoughts and beliefs held in subconscious mind that creates the bulk of the reality we experience and it is the subconscious that we need to pay attention to if we want to make rapid and lasting change in our lives and reality.
The conscious mind averages only 40 bits of information per second!
The conscious mind is volitional. It is the part of the mind that sets goals and judges the results. It is able to think abstractly. For example, “wealth or happiness” are abstract thoughts/words that could mean very different things to different people. The conscious mind thinks in terms of past and future, rather than the present. The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited to short term memories (about 20 seconds), multi-tasking of about 1-3 events at a time and averages about 40 bits of information per second. Coaching, self help books and other change processes mostly focus on the conscious mind. These processes can be highly effective for some change, or a waist of energy when the subconscious mind is not aligned with the change.
The subconscious mind processes at 4 Million bits per second on average!
The subconscious mind has quite different characteristics. It is the part of the mind that handles all the habitual stuff… the body functions like heart rate, breathing, digestion, our learned body movements, and all other habitual activities we do. Being habitual, the subconscious mind is typically resistant to change through normal conscious processes. Whereas the conscious mind is abstract in its thinking, the subconscious mind is very literal and requires us to be very specific in communicating with it. The subconscious mind is in the eternal present. Everything in the subconscious is NOW with no such thing as past or future. Compared to the conscious mind, the subconscious mind has vastly expanded processing capacity, housing our long term memory, multi-tasking thousands of events at a time and processing at 4 Billion bits per second on average!
The powerful subconscious mind is a wonderful tool that allows us to do manage much of our life experience on automatic. We don’t have to be consciously aware of everything that is happening around us or everything we are doing, it just gets handled. Without the subconscious mind, the conscious mind would clearly be overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information processing required to function in our complex reality.
When we consider the power of the subconscious aspect of our mind vs. the conscious part of our mind, we definitely want the subconscious on our side. If the subconscious is not aligned with our conscious goals, we usually go nowhere! So why would the subconscious mind not be aligned with our conscious goals? The subconscious mind primarily develops between birth and the age of 6 or 7. At this time, it is a sponge, accepting whatever programming it is receiving from its environment in the form of experiences, attitudes, values and beliefs.
Based on these experiences and what might be told to us by our mentors and parents, we may take on such beliefs as “I will never be good enough”, “I have to work hard to live” or “No one will ever love me” or “I am always sick”. These belief programs will continue to run throughout our lives giving us the conscious thoughts and experience of “never good enough”, “hard work for every dime”, rejection, and “ill health”. If we have an experience as a child of falling out of a tree, we may “install” a phobia program that generalizes to “all heights are dangerous”.
When we are “triggered” by our parents or partners and immediately react in anger, sadness, self condemnation, anxiety etc, the “trigger” input is just like clicking an icon on our computer to start a reactive program learned earlier in our life. Because of these limiting belief programs running in our subconscious mind, we may sabotage our relationships, our health, our prosperity or our spiritual growth. These belief programs just continue to run, feeding our thoughts and creating a “printout” in our life experience congruent with the underlying programs.
Can you imagine if we could actually make a conscious choice of what programs we will run?
Can you imagine being able to erase all the programs for ill health or poverty and automatically run new programs that bring us abundance in every area of our lives? Can you imagine being able to see the world through belief programming that sees love and peace, instead of belief programming that creates fear and stress? In the past, making these kinds of changes has proved difficult.
We have had tools like affirmations but most people give up the discipline of saying an affirmation long before it gets “installed” in the subconscious mind. It is said that we need to say an affirmation hundreds of time a day for at least a month before it integrates into the subconscious. We could also consciously watch every thought we have, stop the negative thought and shift it to a new empowering one. It is a great exercise to watch our thoughts because it reveals to us what our beliefs are about ourselves and our environment, but just noticing them in a conscious process doesn’t make the change.
It turns out that having these insights consciously have virtually no impact on the underlying subconscious beliefs. We go to workshops, read self help books, see psychologists and get great insights as to why we are as we are, but few of us actually see a real shift in our lives as a result of this “hard and painful” and often expensive work.
Fortunately there are new tools that are highly effective in aligning our subconscious beliefs and programming with our conscious goals.