We have over 60,000 thoughts a day, but most of these thoughts are the same thoughts repeated over and over. Our subconscious programming is made up of our stored beliefs, habits, and memories that we learned from everyone around us as we grew up. This makes up most of your subconscious mind, but it also creates your personality and your personal reality. We’re going to talk about our conscious mind versus our subconscious mind, what thought programming and subconscious programming is, and how we can actually reprogram our subconscious mind.
Conscious vs. Subconscious Minds
As humans, we have one mind which is essentially split into two different levels – our conscious and subconscious mind. Our conscious mind is our thinking and reasoning mind. It is the phase of the mind that makes choices. Our subconscious mind runs many of our body’s functions – such as our heart beating, the process of digestion, circulation, and breathing – automatically and without input from our conscious mind. Our subconscious mind accepts what is impressed upon it, or what we consciously believe and decide is true. It does not have the capability to reason.
Our conscious mind is subjective, meaning it is influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. On the other hand, our subconscious mind is objective, meaning it is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
A beautiful metaphor I once heard is that our conscious mind is like the “watchman at the gate” – it’s job is to protect our subconscious mind from false impressions. Our subconscious mind is like a garden – full of soil that will accept any kind of seed – whether good or bad. When we consciously accept something as true, our subconscious mind cannot argue it.
Our subconscious mind is very amenable to suggestions. It will accept suggestions from you, as well as from others. This is why it’s so important to be careful with what we allow to be accepted as true by our conscious mind. Whatever your conscious mind assumes and believes to be true, your subconscious mind will accept. Then, the subconscious mind will create situations that result from and/or validate those beliefs.
Subconscious Programming / Thought Programming
Every experience that you have had, everything that you have been taught, and everything that you have accepted as true has programmed your subconscious mind into what it is today – running on autopilot. Our racing thoughts come from our subconscious programming, and the beliefs & habits that we have were also formed this way.
Many of us have programming deep in our subconscious mind that we learned at a young age that may not be true anymore. As we’ve learned previously, suggestion is very powerful, and unfortunately, we have all grown up with a lot of negative suggestions given to us. We accepted these negative suggestions as true, because we didn’t necessarily know any better.
Have you ever heard a teacher, parent, peer, society, etc. tell you that you can’t do something, that you’ll fail at something, that you’re wrong, or that your effort is no use? These suggestions, along with SO many others, are consciously accepted by us when we are young, and our subconscious mind holds onto these truths and brings about more experiences and thoughts that are in alignment with this narrative, so that it can continue to prove true. Over time, this defeatist narrative becomes our thoughts, beliefs & habits, and thus, our subconscious programming.
Our subconscious mind acts as a framework and reference point in the background. This eliminates the need for the conscious mind to dwell on every little detail of daily life, but it also means that sometimes that framework needs to be redesigned. Your subconscious programming isn’t your own – it was given to you by those around you when you grew up. This means that you are living your life based on other’s beliefs that you accepted as your own. These beliefs create your individual perception (i.e., the “lens”) through which you view life.
How can we reprogram our subconscious mind?
If you have just realized that you are living your life based on other’s beliefs and that’s a lot to take in – take a deep breath. Every person goes through this, but as adults it is up to us to take a good hard look at our subconscious programming and consciously decide what we want to accept as true. We now know that through neuroplasticity, we can rewire our mind. Rewiring our mind takes a lot of work and effort, because we are changing the subconscious programming that we have accepted as true for many years. The first step to this is to make conscious decisions every single day to form new beliefs and habits that we will accept as true and then pass them onto our subconscious mind. Through repeated habits, the old neural pathways (i.e., your “old” programming), will fire less. As these neural pathways fire less, they will begin to break down. Choosing new habits will begin to develop and fire new neural pathways. This is the science of neuroplasticity. The process of reprogramming, then, is about the decisions that we make.
There are many things that you can do to reprogram your subconscious mind:
- Awareness – You have to become consciously aware of the subconscious thoughts that you are having, and counteract those negative thoughts and suggestions. Becoming intentional with your thoughts and the feelings and emotions that come from them and learn how to see things through different perspectives.
- Questioning Your Beliefs – In order to begin to rewire our mind, we have to question our beliefs and understand which ones no longer serve us to begin to form and accept new beliefs that we do identify with.
- Power of Choice – You truly have the power to make whatever choices you want to – even if your subconscious programming tries to tell you otherwise. Become aware that every decision you make is your own.
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – An approach that connects our neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns through experiences. The belief with NLP is that if an individual can understand how another person accomplishes a task, the process may be copied and communicated to others so they too can accomplish the task.
- Hypnosis – Hypnosis helps you move beyond your conscious mind by accessing the subconscious mind so that you can program new thoughts and beliefs into your subconscious.
- Meditation – Meditation lowers your brain waves, so that you can redirect your attention from the external and access your subconscious mind.
The most important thing to remember and remind yourself is that you CAN rewire your mind and create a new reality for yourself. I review some of these methods in my one-on-one coaching, in my course, A Holistic Approach to Managing Stress, and I will be discussing this topic all month long!