Dream-setting: Bringing Our Subconscious into Alignment with Our Conscious Desires
Today’s article is an answer to a 28-year-old European lady’s question. I’ll call her Maria. My answer to her has practical applications to all readers. Here is Maria’s question:
“I have a question about your most recent article involving Dreams and Goals (April 26, 2010 issue).
“I find that I am good at dreaming up and manifesting certain things in my life. I love my job, I have great friends, and when I want to go somewhere and do something with someone that seems to come in to my life with relative ease.
“But I’m not so sure about dreaming up my dream man. I’ve been doing a lot of personal development work over the last two years, in which time I’ve had two relationships, both unsuccessful in that they didn’t work out, but successful in that I learnt much about myself. As I’ve learnt and grown I’ve realized that I don’t need a partner in my life in order to achieve happiness, which can only come from within; however, I still desire to have my own family.
“My first relationship broke down as my partner was quite pessimistic, had a bit if a victim mentality, was depressed a lot and generally had a “can’t do” attitude. Our break up was amicable, as I really did care for him, but I just had a different outlook on life, we wanted different things.
“My second partner was close to my ‘ideal’ partner, great sense of humor, outgoing, optimistic, we had a lovely time together. Unfortunately his circumstances were quite difficult. He has cystic fibrosis and during our time together was accepted on the waiting list for a double lung transplant. With such an uncertain future we both felt that a relationship wasn’t right for both of us. I’m still very close to him, trying to be as supportive as I can while he waits for his transplant.
“At the moment I’m caught between not having the NEED for a relationship, in that I know I don’t need one in order to experience happiness in my life, but at the same time I have dreams of a future with marriage and children. Presently I feel closed off to men in reality, but in my dreams I want a future with a husband and kids. I feel in conflict. Is it possible to have dreams for the future, whilst staving them off at the same time? Is that wise? Or will I just create more confusion in my subconscious?
“I’m not sure if it’s worth adding my folks want nothing more than for me to get married. They met quite young and married quite quickly and that’s how life worked out for them. It’s just that I see their relationship is quite volatile, and when I look at them, I feel I’d rather wait and choose someone who I feel is a suitable match rather than the first guy who offers me a ring. I’m enjoying experiencing an independent life, doing personal development work and learning how to communicate, something my folks really are not that great at, as relatively small things often trigger arguments.”
I thank our reader for her question as it allows me to expand upon the subject of dream-setting, which deals with bringing our subconscious in alignment with our conscious desires. All of us, like the reader who emailed her question, experience conflicts in some area(s) of our lives. That is, on the conscious level we express a particular desire or goal, yet through self-sabotage find it almost impossible to achieve.
It is almost as if there were two of us. One that has a goal in mind and another that is determined to prevent that goal from happening. Why does this happen? Well, there ARE two of us: our conscious and subconscious minds. While our conscious mind is rational, our subconscious is programmed to act automatically based on the beliefs stored in its memory. Our subconscious built its library of beliefs in early childhood. For example, if little Tommy was repeatedly told he was “stupid,” his subconscious would accept that statement as true because it lacks the faculty of rational thought.
Now, suppose Tommy at an early age decides he wants to become a doctor. What are his chances of success? Very little. Why?
Because his subconscious will thwart his plans every step of the way. Why would his subconscious be so mean? It isn’t mean; it’s just protective. It wants to protect Tommy from the pain of failure, humiliation, and frustration. After all, if Tommy is stupid, which is what his subconscious believes, there is no way he can pass medical school. So, why embarrass Tommy and make him a laughing stock?
The way out of this problem is to reprogram our subconscious by eliminating limiting beliefs and replacing them with empowering ones. For example, if Tommy’s subconscious believed that he was extremely intelligent, this belief would be aligned with Tommy’s desire to become a doctor, and his subconscious would help Tommy to make his dream come true. So, how do we change our subconscious beliefs? We can do so with dream-setting, which is a form of visualization exercises.
However, before we can eliminate limiting or negative beliefs, we will have to identify them. They are usually hidden from our conscious mind because we rationalize our self-defeating behavior. That is, rather than question our poor choices, we invent excuses to justify our questionable behavior. But please understand, when we make excuses for our poor behavior, it is not because we are lazy, bad, or irresponsible. Quite the contrary, for we do make the right choices on a conscious level, but it is our subconscious that takes us on another path.
Neither is it the fault of our subconscious, for it is designed to fulfill or actualize the beliefs in its memory bank. It has no choice in the matter; it is an automatic mechanism. The culprits, then, are our false and self-limiting beliefs. Fortunately, our conscious mind has the power of choice. We can choose to uncover, explore, and change our hurtful, negative beliefs. How do we do that? Well, one solution is to carry out the following 12-step plan, which starts with 11 ways to uncover your limiting beliefs.
TWELVE STEPS TO UNCOVER, REMOVE, AND REPLACE NEGATIVE BELIEFS
STEP 1 ELEVEN WAYS TO UNCOVER OUR LIMITING BELIEFS
1. Look at the world around you. What influence could it have on what you believe? If you were born and raised in a war-torn country, for example, wouldn’t it be natural to believe the world is a dangerous place? What about Maria? She was raised by parents that frequently quarreled. Could that experience have led her to believe that marriage is an unhappy state? If that were the case, can you see the inner conflict? In other words, while her conscious mind says she wants to get married, her subconscious is trying to protect her from the unhappiness it believes marriage would bring.
2. Be aware of what you say to yourself and others, for that’s how we program our subconscious. For instance, Maria writes, “.I’ve realized that I don’t need a partner in my life in order to achieve happiness.” Of course, Maria is right; we don’t need a partner to be happy. BUT we normally don’t say that. After all, necessary or not, being married to the right partner will definitely enhance life, make it richer, and increase our happiness. So, why would Maria say that? Perhaps it points to a subconscious belief that marriage leads to unhappiness.
Let’s look at a couple of more quick examples. Tom catches himself thinking, “Why do I keep doing this when it only embarrasses me?” This thought may indicate that subconsciously Tom wants to be embarrassed. Why does he want to be embarrassed?
Perhaps he was repeatedly told as a child “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” So, the subconscious adopted this belief and makes it come true by causing Tom to embarrass himself.
The next example: Tom thinks, “Why do I keep doing this when all it does is hurt me?” Why? Because he wants to punish himself.
Why? Because he was told as a child that he was a “bad” boy, and bad boys should be punished.
3. What are you doing wrong and what would you need to believe to act that way? Answering this question will help you uncover one or more negative beliefs. Here’s an example. When asked to describe her ideal man, the first two characteristics on Maria’s list were OPTIMISTIC and ACTIVE. Yet, her first boyfriend was a pessimist and her second, inactive (because of illness). Why would Maria get involved in relationships that were doomed from the start? Well, from the point of view of her subconscious, these two men were safe to date because their relationships would not lead to marriage, and therefore not lead to the unhappiness that her subconscious may associate with marriage.
4. Examine your mindset, perspective, or viewpoint, for how you see the world depends on your beliefs. Pessimists and optimists, for example, see things differently. At the moment, Maria seems to see the world incorrectly. For the combination of her statements that she wishes to get married, yet doesn’t need a partner to be happy seem to indicate her doubt that she can find Mr. Right. But nothing could be further from the truth. Maria, it is time for you to open your mind, eyes, and heart and realize this truth: There are countless Mr. Rights out there right now, but they will remain invisible as long as you BELIEVE they are few in number, hard to find, and difficult to snag.
5. Monitor your negative feelings. When you feel resentful, frustrated, sad, jealous or envious, what would you need to believe to feel that way? Let’s say they have just raised taxes and you are angry. That may signify a belief that you are poor and lack the wherewithal to keep up with your expenses.
Tom gets upset about the people in the office. According to him, the office manager is belligerent, his assistant, lazy, and a coworker, arrogant. Why is Tom always criticizing others? Because he wants to feel superior. Why does he want to feel superior?
Because he has a subconscious belief that he is inferior.
6. When things go wrong, do you blame others or circumstances for your problems? Such behavior points to beliefs such as “I’m not at fault because I’m a victim. I have no power. Life is unfair.”
7. Once you isolate a subconscious belief, ask yourself what other beliefs are likely to be linked to it. For example, if you believe life is unfair, you may also believe that there is no point in working hard, people cannot be trusted, or it is okay to be ruthless in business.
8. Ask yourself questions, such as, “What is preventing me from reaching my goal? What would I have to believe to have such a mental block? What thoughts do I have and how do I feel when I think about my goal? What could be the cause of the resistance I feel when I think about working on my goal?
9. Analyze your fears. What are you afraid of? Do you believe you lack the talent, capability, resourcefulness, patience, or determination to succeed? Do you believe you are not good enough, too weak, or too stupid?
10. Do you have one or more talents that you use to cover up a negative belief? Here’s an example from my own life. In my early teens I drew large crowds by putting on magic and hypnosis shows.
But I did so, not because I felt powerful and charismatic, but because it was the only way I knew how to conceal my feelings of insecurity, which pointed to a belief of not being good enough.
Using talent to cover up feelings of insecurity is called compensation and is very common among entertainers.
11. Journaling is a powerful tool to explore our inner feelings.
Here’s a simple exercise you can do. Ask yourself, do I live in a hostile world or a supportive one? And then quickly write a 200- word essay on the subject. It will reveal your mindset or how you view the world. From there you can arrive at the underlying beliefs that would cause you to have such a view.
STEP 2 OF THE TWELVE STEPS TO UNCOVER, REMOVE, AND REPLACE NEGATIVE BELIEFS
Pick a negative belief you wish to change and Identify the source of that belief. Example: Sue lacks confidence and seldom volunteers her opinion in school or elsewhere. Upon reflection, Sue remembers her mom frequently saying, “Why aren’t you smart like your sister?” These comments made Sue feel dumb and that lead to her lack of confidence.
Name other ways you could have interpreted the events that led to your belief. Example: Sue understands how her mother’s comments made her feel dumb when she was a child. Not knowing any better, she accepted what her mother said as the truth. But now, as an adult, she searches for alternate ways of interpreting her mother’s comments. While reflecting, she suddenly realized how different she and her sister were. Her sister was compliant, always agreeing with her mother. Sue, on the other hand, often questioned her mother’s comments. This would annoy her mother who shut up Sue by telling her, “Why aren’t you as smart as your sister.” Then it suddenly hit Sue like a bolt of lightning. She suddenly realized that her immense curiosity and constant questioning of her mother were a sign of independence and intelligence. Sue wasn’t dumb at all; she was very bright!
What is the pay off or benefit of sticking with the negative belief? What? Do you mean there are advantages to limiting beliefs? Sure there are, and that’s why we stick with them. Example: In the past, Sue never volunteered her opinion because of her suspicion that she was stupid, but her fear of speaking in class protected her from the derision and humiliation she imagined would follow her comments.
What is a better way to get the pay off? There are better ways for Sue to protect herself from derision than by keeping silent. For example, she could thoroughly study a subject, becoming so knowledgeable that her comments would win the respect of classmates. Or she could take public speaking courses to build her confidence. She could also borrow books and video courses from the library on subjects such as self-esteem and conquering fear.
Create a positive belief that you would like to replace the negative one. Example: Sue chooses to replace her old belief of “I am stupid” with a new, positive belief of “I am curious, inquisitive, and intelligent.”
Collect evidence to support your new positive belief.
Example: After reflection, Sue recalls many choices she made that proved to be wise decisions. The evidence she finds clearly supports her new belief statement, “I am curious, inquisitive, and intelligent.”
Learn how to create a mental sanctuary, a magical domain that you can visit to engage in personal transformation. It is in this sacred space where you will eliminate negative beliefs and install new, empowering ones. It will be your temple or place of visualization. To learn how to build your sanctuary, read this article: http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/mental-retreat.htm
if you prefer an easier way to learn how to create your sanctuary, for $9.95 you can download an excellent guided meditation (guided visualization). All you have to do is sit or lie down, relax, close your eyes, play the file in an MP3 player, listen to it with headphones, and in a few days you will be well on your way to becoming a master visualizer or expert dream- setter. You can purchase and download the guided visualization
Once you learn how to create your sanctuary, add a special area in it called Place of Beliefs.
Here’s how to dissolve the negative feelings that are attached to negative beliefs. Enter the Place of Beliefs, which is in your sanctuary. Imagine seeing row after row of large urns, each containing a scroll that has a negative belief printed on it. Remove the scroll that has the negative belief you wish to remove and move close to a pillar of pale blue, shimmering light.
When you are close to the pillar of light, unroll the scroll and read the negative belief (Example: Sue reads the scroll, “I am stupid.”) How do you feel when you say the negative belief? Allow yourself to feel all the emotions associated with that belief.
(Example: The belief “I am stupid” makes Sue feel sad, frustrated, embarrassed, and nervous.) After allowing yourself to fully experience the negative emotions, step into the magical cleansing and healing pillar of light. Stand erect. Imagine being showered by the magical light. In your mind’s eye, see all the negative emotions being washed away. Bathe in the light until all traces of negativity are gone.
Now that the negative feelings associated with the belief you are working on have been washed away, it is time to eliminate the negative belief itself. Here’s how. Still holding the scroll, move to where there is a fire encircled by stones. If the scroll isn’t already opened, open it, and while glancing at the negative belief printed on the parchment of the scroll, begin to tear the parchment. Keep tearing it into smaller and smaller pieces. Then step into the sacred circle of stones and scatter the bits of parchment into the fire. Watch as the bits of parchment are consumed by the fire and are converted to whiffs of smoke. Keep watching the whiffs of smoke as they rise into the air and slowly disappear. When no more smoke remains, the negative belief is gone.
In the final step, which is the heart of the dream- setting process, we install the new, empowering belief. I’ll use Sue as an example. She wishes to install her new belief, “I am curious, inquisitive, and intelligent.” Here are the steps she takes.
1. She recalls past victories. That is, she recalls the many times she acted in an intelligent manner. These recollections support and lend credence to her new belief.
2. She imagines how her life will be different because of this new belief. She sees herself speaking with confidence, hears applause and people praising her, sees smiling faces and people nodding in agreement, and feels thrilled by the warm reception she receives.
3. Sue now uses her creativity to improve upon the scenes she visualized in the above step. In other words, she ‘polishes’ her dream, raising it to the best possible scenario.
4. Before ending her session, Sue asks herself, “What can I do today to become more like the person I want to become?” This question blends dream-setting and goal-setting, preparing her for action steps she can immediately take to bring her closer to her goals.
After completing all 12 steps, you can be proud of your accomplishment, and rest assured that your subconscious is growing more aligned with your dreams. As you dissolve more and more negative beliefs, you will grow increasingly powerful. Also, don’t be alarmed by the size of this article, for it is more difficult to write all the steps down than it is to practice them.
TIPS FOR MARIA AND OTHERS ON MEETING MR. OR MISS RIGHT
I agree with Maria that she shouldn’t marry the first man that comes along. But I don’t believe she should wait for Mr. Right.Why wait when you can take action today to bring you closer to your dreams? Don’t make life any more complicated than it need be. Finding Mr. Right can be easy and relatively fast.
Welcome to the computer age. At this moment, many possible Mr. Rights are using the computer, but, sadly, they don’t know anything about Maria. They don’t know how optimistic, bright, and cheerful she is. They would be happy to meet her if only she introduced herself. And today it is so easy to do so. Yes, I’m suggesting online dating services.
Maria, you have a good job, so invest a little money in yourself. Specifically, look into the eHarmony online dating service. It is consistently reviewed as a reputable and effective service. It was established by a psychologist determined to match compatible couples. In the U.S., more than 200 members find their match and marry EVERY DAY! eHarmony is considered the best online dating service for those seeking a relationship that will end in marriage. Need I say more? This is all you need to know to find your Mr. Right. Nevertheless, I don’t want to be accused of giving you only one option, so I’ll give you 13 more.
1. Speed dating is the fast way of meeting eligible men. You can easily meet 20 new men in a single evening. But you have to look and ask around to make sure the speed dating club is reputable and the caliber of the men high. Not all clubs are equal.
2. Make a list of the traits you are looking for and don’t overlook anything. Make sure the man who makes your heart flutter is also committed, compassionate, forgiving, understanding, accepting, warm, and generous. Above all, make sure you respect and admire him and that the feeling is mutual.
3. Become the type of woman your ideal man wants to meet.
4. Sometimes you have to go out with Mr. Wrong to find Mr. Right. That’s because Mr. Wrong may merely be your wrong first impression. Even if he were Mr. Wrong, his brother or friend may be Mr. Right. The moral is be willing to go out with those you are not interested in. After all, even in a poor date you will gain more experience and learn interesting things.
5. Since you are interested in active men, visit places where they go, such as the gym, swimming pool, tennis court, the beach, and elsewhere.
6. Other places to meet active men include charity bicycle tours and marathons.
7. Mr. Right is a GOOD man, but not a perfect one. No one is perfect, including you. One of the things that makes Mr. Right a good man is his willingness to accept your imperfections, and for a successful relationship you’ll have to be able to overlook his faults.
8. Be patient. Even with the help of speed dating and online dating, it will take considerable time to really get to know someone. This, by the way, is another reason why you shouldn’t wait for Mr. Right, but should take action, if not today, tomorrow.
9. Self-improvement, art, photography, martial arts, and dance classes are also places to meet men.
10. Cozy coffee shops and espresso bars provide a relaxed atmosphere, conducive to meeting new people.
11. You may start up a conversation at a bookstore with someone that shares your interests.
12. If you are into sports, you can watch the game at a sports bar. Mr. Right may be right there.
13. Expect the unexpected, for Mr. Right could be anyone including the UPS delivery man. So remain alert, not desperate, but alert.
I hope Maria finds the love she deserves and our other readers understand and take advantage of the power of dream-setting (a.k.a. visualization and imagery).