The Power of the Subconscious Mind
What do you think about your subconscious mind, and the role it plays in your life? Do you trust this part of your mind, or are you more wary of it? Do you utilize its potential, or do you accuse it of keeping you stuck in irrational anxiety and self-sabotaging patterns?
Maybe your subconscious seems to be an obscure and rather scary part of your mind that is out of your control, causes you a lot of trouble, and, therefore, isn’t trustworthy. Thus, you may place your trust in your intellectual and analytical capabilities, and be unaware of the enormous potential that resides within this deeper part of your consciousness.
One of the major functions of the subconscious is to filter and interpret the vast amount of information surrounding us, and only feed the conscious mind the tiny fractions that seem relevant for our safety and well-being. Consciously, we can compute only small amounts of information at one time, but subconsciously, we can keep tabs on our surroundings, pick up subtle cues from others, and notice small external and internal changes—all without our conscious awareness. Important aspects of our perception, such as first impressions, chemistry, or intuition, are not based on logical considerations, but stem from the input of our subconscious.
Another important task of the subconscious mind is creating emotions, which it often does without the input of the conscious mind. This explains why emotions can appear so irrational, inappropriate, and out of control. On your way to work on Monday morning, you’re sure that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed; everything and everybody irritates you. The intensity of the feeling doesn’t make sense to you, but then by lunchtime, even though nothing external has changed, you’re in a splendid mood and whistling your favorite tune.
The subconscious mind is also responsible for filing and storing all our memories. Just take a moment and think about the bedroom you grew up in. Do you remember the color of the walls, or what was on your bed? Since you probably haven’t thought about this room in some time, you’ll have had to access the information from the place it has been stored. To prevent our conscious mind from being overloaded with too much data, our subconscious keeps most memories out of our awareness until we consciously reach for them.
To protect us, the subconscious mind also suppresses memories that appear too emotionally overwhelming or damaging. Many people who were abused in their childhood don’t remember what had happened until, when they are adults, something triggers a specific memory that brings the abuse to the conscious surface.
The subconscious mind also masterfully oversees and coordinates the body’s several trillion cells, so they are working seamlessly together and can continuously adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Just imagine how impossibly tedious it would be to consciously regulate your breathing, your heart rate, liver function, or digestion. Even relatively simple tasks like walking or lifting your arm require the precisely coordinated flexing and relaxing of more than a dozen different muscles. While the conscious mind gives the executive order to take a step or raise an arm, it’s your subconscious mind that translates these simple commands into their complex details.
This brings me to another function of the subconscious mind. Have you ever noticed that, most of the time, you don’t remember how you drove yourself to work or how you ate that sandwich last night while watching TV? As you are thinking about the future or past without paying attention to the present moment, you’re still able to avoid accidents, feed yourself, look presentable, and get most things done, because your subconscious mind oversees all automatic behavior patterns, allowing you to occupy your conscious mind with something else.
The many complex tasks and responsibilities of the subconscious mind make its power and enormous potential apparent. The subconscious has really only one flaw, if you will. It needs our conscious guidance to fully utilize its potential and operate in a way that is supportive and harmonious with our entire being. Some compare the subconscious mind to a loyal, extremely talented servant, who faithfully continues to perform the same tasks repeatedly until told to do something different. But how do we consciously work with our subconscious mind so that we can tap into its sheer unlimited potential?