Advertising
Advertising

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]

Advertising

  • 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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low) 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom? The Endless Battle Between Good and Popular

Trending in Smartcut

1 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 2 22 Best Habit Tracking Apps You Need in 2020 3 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 4 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People 5 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards to Type Faster

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

Advertising

After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

Advertising

Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

Advertising

Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

Advertising

Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

Read Next