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Published on January 27, 2020

How To Leverage The Subconscious Mind

How To Leverage The Subconscious Mind

Do you remember the first time you tried to do anything? Walking, playing a musical instrument, singing, writing. Anything at all?

Despite all of those skills being so different, each one goes through a similar cycle. When we first attempt it, we’re terrible at it. We might even feel shameful or embarrassed about it later on.

But after a while, things start to click.

The movements feel natural. We require less mental awareness and energy. We do it without hesitation like a habit that we’ve long held.

This is the power of the subconscious mind at work. Every automatic movement is guided by this force and it drives human behaviour. More importantly, it can be leveraged when we know how to.

What Is the Subconscious Mind?

To properly leverage the subconscious mind, we need to know what it is. Already, some of you may be saying you already know what it is.

Indeed, I described what it was above.

But it’s so often that we overlook that aspect. We’re not always aware that our subconscious is at work. Because of this, it’s difficult for us to leverage it based on what most know.

Going into more detail, the subconscious mind is, in reality, the second stage of a three-stage mind model.[1] This model was developed by the famous Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud. He described the 3 levels like this:[2]

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  • Conscious – The first level. It defines all of our thoughts and actions within our awareness. Examples are our sense of smell, touch, and hearing.
  • Subconscious – The second level. These define are our reactions and automatic actions. We are still aware of them when we think about them. Examples are driving a car. There comes a point where you don’t need to pause and figure out how to turn it on or drive it.
  • Unconscious – The third level. This defines all of the past events and memories we have. These are inaccessible to us regardless of how many times we recall them. An example is remembering anything when we were a baby or recalling the first word we ever said.

All of these minds are connected. As to how it affects our behaviour in specific cases, it’s hard to say. It’s one of the challenges psychologists and neurologists are addressing today.[3]

How Does the Subconscious Mind Work in Everyday Life?

Your subconscious mind is always in the background doing most of the heavy lifting of course. But how much is it doing?

Here is a general overview of what our subconscious mind really does at the core:

It’s a Memory Bank

The capacity for information in your subconscious mind is unlimited. It permanently stores every detail and everything that has happened to you.

Whenever we are recalling something, there is good odds that we are using our subconscious mind.

It Is Also Subjective

Your subconscious can’t think or reason alone. It obeys everything your conscious mind wants. That’s at least one connection we know that works.

It Provides Balance

Everything from your body temperature to your breathing and heart beating. Your subconscious mind is what controls that. On top of that, it keeps a balance of all the chemicals that are your cells.

Not to mention it has good control over your mental level too. Mental in that you will think and act in a manner that aligns with what you said and done in the past.

Our Subconscious Mind Is Our Comfort Zone

It’s your subconscious mind that works on keeping you within the confines of that comfort zone. This is one of the reasons for us being so hesitant towards change despite our initial desires to stretch ourselves further and grow.

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Our Subconscious Shapes Our Reality

As mentioned, our mind stores past events, though it uses those events to shape reality. Everything we’ve experienced – from beliefs, and good memories, to fears, and bad memories – forms our reality. Through this map, our subconscious mind can move us in various directions in life.

How to Leverage Your Subconscious Mind

Now that you have a grasp as to what your subconscious mind is and does, we can begin to leverage it.

We know we can because we are aware that while our subconscious mind can do amazing things, it is hesitant when we try to do something different.

Going back to those activities I mentioned, I’m willing to bet that some of you did those things but stopped. Whatever reasons you have are your own, but there are good odds that those thoughts sprang from your subconscious mind.

So, in order for us to grow, we have to overcome this hurdle. How we do that is through four steps:

  1. Asking
  2. Believing
  3. Taking action
  4. Receiving

Here is how each one is broken down.

1. Asking

Remember that our conscious and subconscious is connected. Think of our conscious mind as the seeds and our subconscious like a garden. Whenever we have a thought or a desire, we plant a seed and our subconscious mind will begin growing it.

This subservient tendency can be in our favour as we can fill our minds with desires and begin to ask ourselves questions.

What do you want in life? What goals do you want to be achieving?

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It also pays to be aware of what’s happening around you and how you act.

Are you someone who is optimistic? Or are you always complaining about things?

All of our thoughts shape our view of reality and can dictate our actions. With this in mind, work on being intentional with your life. Don’t be afraid to ask but also offer positive vibes through excitement, joy, and peaceful thoughts.

2. Believing

What it means in this specific scenario is that you are maintaining a positive expectancy from day to day. That’s not to deny there won’t be failures or setbacks. But rather despite the harsh road, you know you can get to your end goal.

This step demands you to stick to your plan and have faith that it’ll pull you through.

3. Taking Action

This goes hand in hand with belief. After all, asking and believing isn’t what will move you forward. Like with anything in life, you have to create momentum.

But the thing with taking action is that it feeds on your request and your belief. Asking is more or less a plan and believing is a motivator of sorts.

4. Receiving

The last step is receiving. What I mean by this is being open to receiving whatever is coming your way. The actions, thoughts, and beliefs that you have are what will move your subconscious mind to push you to do what you want to do.

So with that said, you want to make sure that you are prepared for what will arrive in your life.

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It’s not so much as knowing what responsibilities or perks come with a new change in life. Rather it being able to maintain this change in your life no matter what.

Anyone in the world can become a healthy person. But some can only keep it up for so long.

Anyone can have a great circle of friends and people they can count on. But they can easily break ties after a while.

Remember that our subconscious mind will do anything to push us back into what is comfortable. Receiving is a way of telling yourself that this is your new comfort level. Even if you had to go through a life change to obtain it.

Final Thoughts

Our subconscious mind has the ability to tap into any possibility that we desire. So long as we have the technique, we will be able to leverage it in all aspects of life.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t run into failure. Like with everything we started off with in life, it took time to learn and become skilled. The key here is to not give up and continue to push.

Soon enough our subconscious will catch on and we can work hand in hand to achieve anything.

More to Boost Your Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on October 13, 2020

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

Human history has no shortage of brilliant minds: writers, musicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, and more. Not everyone chooses a creative career, but all of us could use the power of creativity to live brighter, more fulfilling, and more successful lives instead of going through the same motions day in, day out.

Could one become more creative?

A one-size-fits-all answer is hard to give because there are different types of creativity. Do you want to know the least useful type?

1. Least Useful Type of Creativity

It is “Ideation creativity”—the good old coming up with new ideas.

Surprised?

There exist techniques for producing more and better ideas: idea buckets, brainstorming games, and first principles thinking. Those are specialized creativity tools used by composers, novelists, and serial entrepreneurs—not so much by the remaining 99% of the population.

Do you still want this esoteric knowledge? Then go straight to the masters:

  • Josh Waitzkin, a U.S. Junior chess champion and later a World Champion in the martial art Tai Chi Chuan, has written an autobiography.[1]
  • Gianni Rodari, an Italian children’s book author famous for his Adventures of Cipollino, outlined his approach to teaching fantasy in an actual manual on the subject.[2]
  • Twyla Tharp, a celebrated American dancer and choreographer, wrote a book explaining her creative process. We will revisit this book in a moment.[3]

What Distinguishes Creative People (Aside From Their Ideas)?

Anyone can have interesting ideas—would it not be nice to build a flying car, create a musical about South American tribes, cold-email the French president, or ask to get hired as the next prime minister?

Just like yourself, billions of people are also touched by beautiful sunsets and would like to double their respective incomes—but this does not automatically make all of them artists or entrepreneurs.

Only those who have acted upon their ideas or emotions and produced tangible outcomes can be labeled “creative.” Mozart and Jane Austen became so famous because of their results—the symphonies and novels that they had respectively produced—not because of their ideas.

Creativity Does Not Require So-Called Inspiration

A related misconception is that masterpieces are created in “Eureka!” moments—extraordinary bursts of creativity and otherworldly inspiration.

The exclamation “Eureka!” refers to the apocryphal story about the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes who was taking a bath and stumbled upon a solution to a difficult problem he had been thinking about.

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But consider that Mozart composed over 600 musical works in his lifetime including 50 symphonies.[4] He would have needed thousands of “Eureka!” moments to produce such a staggering amount of world-class music, which is about one per week of his short career. This is clearly absurd—extraordinary moments of inspiration are rare by definition.

Acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp believes it was all hard work,[5]

Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. . . . As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Creativity can only be manifested during a creative process, whether it is trying a new dish in the kitchen, composing a new symphony, or figuring out how to help your child get into a good college. If you have never played a musical instrument, you are not going to suddenly produce a symphony after doing a creativity exercise.

This brings us to the most useful but underrated type of creativity:

2. “Kaizen”: Finding Ways to Improve a Process

What would be a non-creative approach to any activity? It would be doing the same thing every day in the same way.

Therefore, a creative approach would be constantly varying what you are doing and the way you are doing it. Sometimes, it means adding complexity, such as experimenting with sophisticated dishes for dinner to keep your family happy.

Other times, it means reducing complexity. When mass production was still in its infancy, engineers at the Ford Motor Company used a great deal of creativity to speed up the process:[6]

In the past a worker—and he had to be a skilled worker—had made a flywheel magneto from start to finish. A good employee could make thirty-five or forty a day. Now, however, there was an assembly line for magnetos. It was divided into twenty-nine different operations performed by twenty-nine different men. In the old system it took twenty minutes to make a magneto; now it took thirteen.

Ironically enough, a few decades later Japanese car manufacturers ended up overcoming the big American ones including the Ford Motor Company itself. The approach that made it possible is often translated as “kaizen” or never-ending incremental, continuous improvement.

Kaizen type of creativity entails continuous improvements in your process:

  • today you research a new dish to make for dinner,
  • tomorrow you try making it in less time,
  • the next day you try varying the ingredients,
  • the next day you discuss your recipe with others,
  • the next day you take a class on that same recipe,
  • the next day you research the nutritional properties of the ingredients.

This is the mindset of an aspiring world-class chef and by adopting it, you will become very creative in the kitchen indeed!

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3. Transformational Type of Creativity: Change Your Life

You may be arguing that it is all good for Mozart, Jane Austen, or Twyla Tharp to be creative because they were engaged in creative activities full-time.

How could one find creativity in an uninspiring job? How could one creatively spend leisure after-work time?

A piece of common advice is to “work on your goals,” but most of us do not have clear goals, let alone a specific life plan telling us exactly how to employ the time at our disposal.

The time-honored answer is, “if you do not like something about your life, figure out how to change it.” Goals or no goals, this is your life. Take responsibility for it because nobody else will.

This is where transformational creativity comes into the picture. Transformational creativity is not decorating the wall of your cubicle with cute cat stickers to make the job tolerable; it is taking an evening course so you can move to a more enjoyable line of work.

Transformational creativity is not throwing random ingredients into a pot hoping for a miracle; it is befriending a gourmet chef who can teach you some serious kitchen magic. Transformational creativity is not trying all ice cream flavors at a local parlor; it is making up your own flavor, or better yet, opening up your own ice cream shop!

Transformational creativity is taking intelligent steps towards the life that you want and away from the life that you do not want. If Kaizen creativity helps you move forward and keep growing, transformational creativity helps you change course.

How Can You Unleash Your Transformational Creativity?

Eliminate the obstacles.

The first obstacle is not knowing what you want in life. A solution is to set goals anyway.

Success expert and bestselling author Brian Tracy recommends setting 10 goals for the next year, but you can start from three: one financial goal, one relationship goal, one health goal:

Your goals may be unrealistic—say, to double your income, go on a date with a celebrity, or complete a marathon, all before the end of the year. This is fine. Eventually, you will learn how to set goals that are motivating and appropriate for you, but you have to start somewhere.

The second obstacle is not wanting your goals badly enough. The solution is to act as if you did.

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You may decide to write a novel and yet not feel creative or committed because there is no strong emotion underlying this decision. This is fine. Just keep writing, rain, or shine. Your emotions will catch up with you later.

Of course, if you can increase your level of motivation, by all means, do it! One aspiring entrepreneur unleashed creativity and eventually achieved great success after moving from cold and wet Chicago to the sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

Want to know the last type of creativity? It is special in that it offers a shortcut to success. Mozart used it too!

The fourth and last type is named after Dr. Watson, the colleague of the great detective invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

4. Dr. Watson’s Type of Creativity

Sherlock Holmes himself commended his friend and ally Dr. Watson for exhibiting this type of creativity:

It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.[7]

Even if you are not particularly creative yourself, you may be able to do great things by partnering up with someone vastly more experienced and insightful. At the same time, a close association with an accomplished master is one of the best-known ways to cultivate your own creativity—all types of it.

This association can take various forms:

  • a formal mentorship that you are paying for
  • an unstructured mentorship relationship combined with a friendship or a marriage
  • an Executive Assistant-type job that you are paid for
  • an apprenticeship whereas you work on your mentor’s projects without monetary compensation

How Can You Convince a Master to Let You Be Their Dr. Watson?

The single most important quality of Dr. Watson is that he executes on Sherlock Holmes’ ideas, sometimes even risking his own life in the process. It is only through immersing himself in the execution that he can come up with insights which—even if wrong —manage to stimulate Holmes’ powerful imagination.

A second equally important quality of Dr. Watson is that he accepts the overall approach as well as the daily mode of operation set by Holmes and does not question them, except in extreme circumstances.

A little humility and an exemplary work ethic go a long way, but you still need to ask for what you want. If you found a potential mentor online and were able to connect with them, how could you phrase your request?

Here are excerpts from messages sent to a potential mentor by an aspiring mentee that actually worked:

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  • Nothing short of an honor to be connected with you.
  • Is there any way I can work with you, [Dr. such-and-such]? It would be nothing less than an achievement.
  • I wouldn’t need any money. To be associated with you is a dream I hope I can achieve. Is it possible for you to lay down some guidelines for me, which if I follow, I’ll get to work under you?
  • I will follow all the guidelines and directions you provide, if you do. I can be your first apprentice in [city Y or country Z].
  • I will follow all your directions, guidelines. I want to be under your guidance. Please accept my proposal.

Believe in yourself. Napoleon Hill relates the striking story of Edwin Barnes who wanted to become a business partner of the great inventor Thomas Edison—and he eventually did! He had no money or education; his only advantage was his burning desire combined with persistence.

The book Think and Grow Rich is an absolute gem informed by conversations with some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the day, including Andrew Carnegie himself, with lessons in creativity sprinkled on every page!

Parting Words

The power of creativity to change your life for the better is undeniable.

Ideation creativity is the most overrated type: unless and until you specifically decide to become an artist, a book author, an inventor, or someone similar, it is irrelevant.

The most practical type of creativity is Kaizen, finding ways to continuously improve a process. Specific advice can be found in countless books on forming better habits including Leon Ho’s 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect Of Your Life. So long as you have a process that you keep improving from time to time, you are on the right track.

Transformational creativity can change your life, though it does require courage, ingenuity, and most of all, persistence. Just keep making one little change at a time and your life will unfold like a piece of art. Even if you feel no motivation whatsoever, it is fine. Creativity is a state of mind and can override your emotions.

Perhaps the most empowering type is Dr. Watson’s creativity, which entails aligning yourself with a master whom you can learn from. Here, the sky is the limit. but you do have to give—sometimes a lot—to be able to benefit as greatly as Dr. Watson did from his association with Sherlock Holmes.

Pick one type of creativity that you want to develop and discuss it with a friend. And remember the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

More on Thinking Creatively

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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