The mind is one of the most fascinating and powerful aspects of ourselves. It is stronger than any supercomputer that we have ever created and can store practically an infinite amount of information.
How we get access to all of that information stems from the levels of the mind. There are three in total, but here the focus will be on the relationship between our conscious mind vs subconscious mind. By uncovering what is going on in our heads, we can best achieve our goals by tapping into the various minds.
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Conscious Mind vs Subconscious Mind
To best uncover the differences, it first helps to understand the various levels of the mind. For that, we’ll be turning to Sigmund Freud, the man who founded the concept.
In his theory, he used the analogy of the iceberg and that the idea that the mind could form three parts of this iceberg.
The conscious mind is the ice above the water. This forms only a small part of the iceberg as most of the ice is underwater.
Everything underwater is broken into two more parts. The preconscious is anything below the waterline while the subconscious is far below.
This analogy may not make a lot of sense on the surface, but when you look at Freud’s deductions of what each mind does, some truth can be found.
- The conscious mind is where all of our thoughts, feelings, hopes and memories are stored. This is the part we use to think and talk. Going back to the iceberg analogy, you can say that these are all of the things that require little effort to see.
- The preconscious mind is anything that isn’t in the forefront of our minds but that we can bring it to the surface with a little effort.
- Last is the subconscious mind, which stores feelings, urges, and memories that are beyond our conscious mind. These are usually things we suppress like pain, anxieties, or conflicts. These events are what steer our overall behaviour, motives, and decisions.
Differences in Opinion
As you can tell, the conscious mind and subconscious mind are on different levels and store different pieces of information. However, there are other differences. The biggest one is the differences in opinions.
This refers to the fact that both the conscious mind and subconscious mind have different beliefs.
As with animals, many of our decision-making drivers are below the surface. An animal doesn’t “decide” to fly or hunt or sleep or fight in the way that we go about making many of our own choices of what to do — it simply follows the instructions that come from the subconscious parts of its brain.
These same sorts of instructions come to us from the same parts of our brains, sometimes for good evolutionary reasons and sometimes to our detriment. Our subconscious fears and desires drive our motivations and actions through emotions such as love, fear, and inspiration. It’s physiological. Love, for example, is a cocktail of chemicals (such as oxytocin) secreted by the pituitary gland.
While some subconscious parts of our brains are dangerously animalistic, others are smarter and quicker than our conscious minds. Our greatest moments of inspiration often “pop” up from our subconscious. We experience these creative breakthroughs when we are relaxed and not trying to access the part of the brain in which they reside, which is generally the neocortex. When you say, “I just thought of something,” you noticed your subconscious mind telling your conscious mind something. With training, it’s possible to open this stream of communication.
So while our minds have different perspectives, there is potential for them to work together.
This is along the same lines as procrastinating on a task only for you to get a “lightbulb” idea. That idea didn’t come from anywhere specific, but rather from your subconscious mind.
Another example to consider is scenarios where events conflict with established beliefs.
For example, say you have a belief that you can’t make genuine, long-lasting relationships with other people. Any event that could suggest otherwise will more or less send your mind into a spiral.
Imagine attending a meet-and-greet for work. People with that belief would purposely avoid talking to people, or they’ll keep it to small talk, not really looking to bond with people.
This behavior is warranted because, in their head, they will do anything to discourage themselves or to sabotage themselves from making a friend.
This all happens because they had bad experiences or thoughts that link to their social skills.
Active vs Passive
The last difference is how involved each part of our mind is, and the best way to explain it is through an example we can all relate to.
Do you sometimes feel you can’t fall asleep because your mind is wandering?
Part of the reason for this is due to the subconscious mind. When you’re falling asleep, your conscious mind is resting; however, your subconscious isn’t.
In fact, your subconscious mind never falls asleep. It works all day, every day controlling your body, breathing, and maintaining organ function and cell growth.
Our subconscious mind is the reason why we dream and why we can only remember vivid details of said dream.
In this way, the subconscious is passive. It continues to work, but often without us knowing. However, we can, of course, deepen that connection.
How to Improve the Conscious and Subconscious Mind
Now that you have a better grasp on what each mind does, the next step is for us to improve the connection between our minds. There are a number of ways for you to improve this connection, and most of them stem from habits your conscious mind can create to strengthen your subconscious over time.
1. Consider the Environment
While we should be looking after our own global environment, our internal environment is important as well. Chances are most people haven’t considered the environment of their subconscious mind.
This is important because, again, our subconscious mind is always active and absorbing everything
Beliefs don’t come out of nowhere. Our beliefs are grown based on the information we see, the conclusions we draw, and the way we compare it to the rest of our reality. We do this constantly.
The catch to this is that our daily environment has a flurry of emotions. The most prominent is negativity and strife.
It’s depressing when we consume it, but it impacts our behavior over time. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of what it is you are consuming information-wise.
Avoid listening to the news unless you need to. Don’t spend time with those who drag you down or are toxic. Focus more on positive information through various mediums.
2. Visualize More
Remember that our subconscious mind is the mind behind us dreaming. If it can do that, then it makes sense that the subconscious mind loves pictures.
The best way to send pictures from our conscious to the subconscious mind is through visualization.
The idea is to spend a small amount of time — about 15 minutes a day — picturing positive scenes of you and your life experiences.
You can visualize anything you like, such as vacations, fulfilling relationships, working out, and more.
The idea is to do these consistently, and over time, these images will begin to replace any negative thoughts you have about those aspects. Any fears, doubts, or worries will slowly wash away.
For greater effect, also visualize strong positive emotions. For example, if you’re worried about working out at a gym, visualize your exercising. Visualize how you’ll feel by the end of it or how you’ll feel when you hit your health goal.
The last method I want to talk about is affirmations. This technique is similar to visualization, but here you’re focusing on words and thoughts. As I mentioned above, all information and thoughts get absorbed into our subconscious mind.
If we instill positive words on a regular basis, our tune will change over time.
With affirmations, there are some rules to go over for these to work effectively:
Use the Present Tense
Looking to be more confident? Tell yourself, “I am confident.” Even if you are not confident, you can trick your subconscious mind because it can’t predict the future. It only knows this very moment. Also, stick to positive statements only.
Associate Your Words With Feelings
Even though the statement made may be false right now, one big motivator is reminding ourselves how we’ll feel with this new reality. If you want better health, start to bring in emotions that make you feel healthy.
Repeat the Process
Not only should you be doing this daily, but it also helps to repeat them over the course of the day.
The connection between the two minds is powerful, and making small lifestyle changes can impact your attitude and life over time. That much is clear when you look at how our conscious mind vs subconscious mind function.
Remember that our conscious mind is the active one and will get things done. It is our front-line. All the while, our subconscious is constantly looking around, absorbing everything it can, and formulating our reality. Nurture these two well, and you can change your life.
More Tips on the Levels of Mind
- How To Leverage The Subconscious Mind
- 10 Steps For Success: Applying The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind
- Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness
Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com