You may have heard of the famous iceberg analogy that is often used to describe our conscious and subconscious minds. The “tip of the iceberg” that rises above the water surface represents our conscious mind – logical and rational, while the rest of the iceberg, hidden from us, is the subconscious mind.
Given that our subconscious mind is quietly working in the background, we may not always be fully aware of its existence, much less understand how it functions.
Experts say the subconscious to take whopping 90 percent of our mind, and holds the vast majority of our inner resources including feelings, habits, behaviours, beliefs, perceptions, our body and five senses, our long-term memory and experiences, and even our creativity, imagination, intuition, and wisdom.
This means that when we know how to harness the enormous power of our subconscious mind, it is like having access to our very own gold mine – an almost limitless source that you can tap into to change the way you live.
① You can Reprogram Yourself
The subconscious mind often runs on autopilot, especially when a thought or behaviour pattern is well-established. This frees us up to process other things that require our thinking and evaluation. While this ability is extremely helpful when we want to learn new skills such as driving, sometimes we pick up and stick to unwanted habits or patterns that do not work out very well for us.
Suppose you started binging on desserts because your subconscious mind perceives it to be a form of comfort (remember the subconscious also houses your feelings), or you find yourself automatically smoking sticks and sticks of cigarettes when work has been extra stressful for you.
Logically and rationally, you know these habits are harmful to you, but no matter how much you try changing, you always revert to the same old pattern. But if we were to know how to directly communicate with our subconscious mind, for instance through hypnosis which helps us bypass the natural barrier of entry between our conscious and subconscious, we can more easily convince our subconscious mind of the benefits of change.
In addition to getting rid of harmful eating and smoking habits, we can also reprogram our thinking and behavioural patterns such as addictions, anger, stress, anxiety, and other negative, self-defeating thoughts.
② You can Free Yourself from the Past
Because our subconscious mind is so good at retaining memories of past experiences, sometimes we may find it difficult to get past certain emotionally upsetting or traumatic events that are heavily imprinted onto our minds. We may find ourselves replaying the scenes over and over again in our heads, and pretty soon we are driving ourselves into a state of anger, fear, anxiety or negativity. Some unwanted habits are also the result of past events that had affected us strongly enough for the subconscious to associate them with the bad habit.
We can teach our subconscious mind to let go of painful memories and neutralize the emotional charge we feel towards an event. When we access a negative memory, instead of feeling anxious or sad like in the past, we can now choose to see it from a healthier perspective, gain a valuable lesson from what had happened, and learn to move on. We can help our subconscious mind recognize that by holding onto these memories, we are actually hurting ourselves.
Hypnosis work has been done on all kinds of fears and phobias, forgiveness, traumatic events, and loss and grief.
③ You can Imagine it ‘Till You Become it
We often hear the common catchphrase “fake it till you make it”.
Indeed, imagination is a powerful innate ability we all have – our subconscious mind combines visuals, emotions, and other sensory inputs to form powerful images and stories that move us. Imagination is the language of the subconscious mind1, and what is more interesting is that the subconscious does not differentiate between the real and the imagined; this means that when we imagine something vividly enough, the subconscious mind believes it to be real.
This works wonders for when we have a goal or dream to achieve. You may, for instance, desire to be more confident and motivated at work. A hypnotherapist can guide you into vividly imagining the desired outcome by focusing on what you see, hear, and feel when you have successfully reached your goal. Or you may imagine yourself as a non-smoker, or see yourself thirty pounds lighter. You may also feel yourself in your dream home, or feeling calm and relaxed. The more you enjoy this desired outcome in your imagination, the more your subconscious mind will drive you towards achieving that goal.
Virtually anything can happen in our imagination as long as we allow it to. Reinforcement is key.
Like motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said, “whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality”.
1Mastering the Power of Self-Hypnosis: A Practical Guide to Self-Empowerment (C. Roy Hunter, 2011)