Everybody knows what’s wrong with them, but few know about the powerful resource that can change everything for the better. What resource is that? Our subconscious! At this point some readers will be tempted to say, “Oh, that’s nothing new. I know all about the subconscious.” Well, let me ask a question. If you know all about it, how come you still have problems? You see, being aware of the subconscious may make interesting dinner conversation, but mere familiarity with it is far from enough to change your life.
To harness the power of your subconscious, you will need to go beyond knowing ABOUT it and actually get to know it. That is, you’ll need to be aware of its purpose, understand how it works, and then apply what you know to bring about the changes you would like to see in your life. This may appear overwhelming, but the truth is it’s fairly easy to do. It’s no more difficult than exercising 20 minutes a day. True, many people don’t exercise, but not because it’s difficult, but because they lack discipline and commitment. It’s no different in training your subconscious to work for you rather than against you. All it takes is a decision to start a commitment to continue, and perseverance to achieve the life of your dreams.
GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS
Your subconscious is a miraculous mechanism that operates 24 hours a day. It keeps your heart beating, your lungs breathing, and your body temperature steady. It is an elaborate multifunctional system that performs thousands of tasks, but here I will focus on its role to grant us whatever we wish from life. But before it can serve us, it needs to be told what we want.
Unless told otherwise, your subconscious assumes that everything you say to yourself and others, and everything you daydream about is what you want. After all, if you don’t want something why would you spend your time thinking, talking, and daydreaming about it? So, it monitors your thoughts, speech, and daydreams, and then works feverishly to make what you think and talk about come true.
You have heard the expression, “Be careful what you wish for because it may come true.” Well, when discussing the subconscious, it would be more accurate to say, “Be careful what you think and talk about because it WILL come true!” Pardon me as I repeat myself, but for your success and happiness, it is essential that you understand that as far as your subconscious is concerned, everything you say to yourself or others is what you wish for, and as its purpose is to give you what you wish for, you will get what you think, talk, and daydream about.
Let’s look at an example. Mary often thinks “Life is so unfair. Why don’t I have enough money? I never have enough money. No matter what I do, I’ll always be poor!” When a friend calls Mary and asks her if she would like to go to the coffee shop, Mary replies, Oh, no, I can’t afford it. I don’t have any money.” Since poverty is all Mary thinks about, poverty is what her subconscious repeatedly delivers. In other words, by endlessly dwelling on her poverty, Mary perpetuates it.
But how different her situation would be if she changed her thoughts! For example, she could have thought as follows, “I don’t like being short of money. What can I do to improve my finances?” Such thinking is solution oriented, for when we look for solutions we will find them. Now, at times, we may not be able to consciously find a solution to our problem, but as long as we think and talk about what we want, rather than what we don’t want, that message will get to our subconscious.
And here is the wonderful news; we don’t have to know how to reach our goal. As long as our subconscious knows what we want, it will work all hours of the day to figure out how to grant our wish. And as it works on solving your problem, you will find yourself spontaneously doing things differently. And you will delightfully find yourself getting closer and closer to your dream, until you finally reach it. In other words, if you don’t know how to get there, not to worry, for your subconscious will figure it out, take you by the hand, and lead you there.
To benefit from the power of our subconscious all we have to remember is “we get what we think, talk, and daydream about.” But here is another way of looking at it. What we talk about is what we believe. What we believe is what we expect. And the role of the subconscious is to deliver what we expect. A powerful example of this is the well known placebo effect. That is, when a patient takes a dummy pill, expecting it to work, it will bring about the same physiological changes that a real pill will. Such is the power of the subconscious; it can also be a tool for self- healing!
If a medication or form of treatment works 100% of the time, how often can we expect a placebo to work? Well, according to the founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Herbert Benson, a placebo can be just as effective as actual treatment in up to 90% of cases! How effective a placebo is depends on HOW it is administered. For example, when patients were told they were being given A POTENT NEW DRUG to heal their bleeding ulcers, the placebo had a success rate of 70%, but when they were told they were getting AN EXPERIMENTAL DRUG, the success rate dropped to 30%.
After extensive testing, here are other facts that were discovered about placebos. Big pills are more effective than small ones; colored ones, more effective than white ones; bitter ones, more effective than tasteless ones; injections, more effective than pills; placebos given by doctors more effective than those given by nurses, and doctors in white coats more effective than those dressed in ordinary clothes. So, by combining several beliefs (expectations) we can generate an extremely effective placebo. For instance, to heal a patient of bleeding ulcers with a placebo, have a doctor in a white coat inject the patient with “a new potent drug!” Although I may have deviated slightly from our original subject, the reason I brought up placebos was to impress upon your mind the power of your subconscious.
EIGHT STEPS TO HARNESSING THE POWER OF YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS
1. You cannot harness the power of your subconscious until you become aware of its existence. This article can help you get started, but for maximum results, do further study. Here are two excellent books, but many more are available:
THE GENIE WITHIN: Your Subconscious Mind–How It Works and How To Use It by Harry Carpenter, Harry Carpenter Publishing, 2004.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy, Martino Fine Books, 2009 (2009 reprint of 1963 edition)
2. Because of the importance of your thoughts, think about what you are thinking about! How can we change self-defeating thoughts if we don’t even know we’re thinking them? So, regularly stop and analyze what you are saying to yourself and others. What do your thoughts reveal about your beliefs? What needs to be changed?
Let’s look at an example.
After surveying the devastation that surrounded them, some survivors of the recent Haitian and Chilean earthquakes said to themselves and others, “I am crushed, completely destroyed. I’ve lost everything. I have no reason to go on living.” Yet, at the same time, others were saying, “Although I have been dealt an incomprehensively severe blow, I will survive! Thankfully, I’m still alive. Let me help my neighbors and together we can rebuild our lives.” Some of the survivors were gripped by despair, others clung to hope. Some programmed themselves for failure, others for success. The words we say to ourselves and others are as powerful as the earthquakes that struck Haiti and Chile. Those words can cause upheaval in our lives or lead us to Shangri-La.
3. It is always easier to see weakness in others than in ourselves. For this reason, listen carefully how others speak about themselves and life in general. Are they programming themselves for success or failure? Happiness or misery? The purpose of this exercise is not to give advice to others, but to develop your own skills in recognizing how we defeat ourselves by the words we use. Once you acquire this skill, you will be ready to observe yourself and start changing what you say.
4. What are you unhappy about and what do you wish were different? Write it down and then study your words to uncover your beliefs and self-defeating statements. Then ask yourself what thoughts should I be thinking instead and when will I start thinking them?
5. The best way to change your negative programming is by taking action. Look at how clear Vincent Van Gogh makes this point: “If you hear a voice within you saying, You are not a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” James R. Cook said something similar, “Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
6. We all daydream. Normally we just drift into daydreaming without planning to do so. And when that happens, the subject of our daydream is usually negative. That is, we focus on problems, worries, and whatever is causing stress at the moment. But as we daydream, we are unwittingly instructing our subconscious to bring more of the same. The moral is, it is essential that you catch yourself daydreaming and then take charge of it. Don’t stop daydreaming, but change its direction. Daydream about what you want in life, rather than what you don’t. Daydreaming about what you want is a powerful way to win the support of your subconscious.
7. Knowledge of the subconscious, interesting as it is, is not useful unless we apply what we learn and act on it. And the time to act is now, but before you can develop a do-it-now attitude, you’ll have to understand the nature of time. It is inelastic, limited, and essential. That is, we can’t stretch it, borrow it, or steal it. We have to work with what we have, and what we have is limited. We use it or lose it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. And it’s essential, for without it we cannot get anything done. With this understanding, avoid whiling away time, but put it to work for you.
8. Expect your subconscious to work for you. It is already doing so, but you haven’t been paying much attention to it, so it’s trying it’s best to understand what you want by analyzing what you spend your time thinking and talking about. From this moment, focus only on what you want, and you will find your subconscious grow from foe to friend, to partner, to champion of your dreams.
If you’re going to change something in your life, you’ve got to change something in your life. And by now it should be clear that what needs to be changed are our thoughts and speech. Madam Roland (1754~1793) wrote, “The feeble tremble before opinion, the foolish defy it, the wise judge it, the skillful direct it.” If we are to overcome the opinions of limitation and weakness, let’s direct our thoughts, enlisting the aid of our subconscious, to rise above it all.