Note: This post is written by Rick Riddle
By the control of the subconscious mind, you get control over the conscious.
~ Swami Vivekananda
Many years ago, Dr. Maxell Maltz, a well-known plastic surgeon in New York, wrote a book, called Psychocybernetics. In it he discussed the power of the subconscious in controlling our opinions of ourselves. He recounted many stories of people who came to him for plastic surgery of all varieties – some with ugly noses; some who had been disfigured in an accident; some who wanted to reverse the effects of aging.
Some patients were thrilled with the results. Others, even though the results were wonderful, continued to see themselves as ugly. He finally realized that these negative people had programmed their subconscious minds that they were ugly, and that was still their dominant thought. The book is a great read with some very practical advice about how to fix that negativity that is seated with the subconscious.
Your subconscious. That place where every event, incident and memory of them is stored. You don’t consciously know most of what is in there, but that does not mean what’s there does not affect you – far from it. If a teacher said a cruel thing to you about your lack of intelligence, it is imprinted on that subconscious. If you have a set back and feel like a failure, that is imprinted too. And when similar events occur now, those old negative imprints rise up and control your reactions and your thoughts.
Often, you will not even realize why you are responding the way you are. This is the power of your subconscious. It has been programmed with either positive or negative thoughts, put there by you, and it will bubble up to affect you in any current situation.
When your subconscious is impacting you negatively, you are unaware. But your behaviors will let you know. Here are six behaviors that will clue you in.
1. Black and White Thinking
Seeing only extremes all of the time is not a normal thought pattern. Life is a series of grays most of the time. People, jobs, relationships, and such are really some black, some white, and a lot of “in betweens” – those grays.
If you see people, for example, as all bad or all good, then you are not seeing reality. Your subconscious mind is superimposing itself based on prior experiences. Someone may have a particular negative personality trait that is similar to someone in your past who treated you horribly. You are projecting that experience into this one.
2. Your Moods Change Significantly and Often
Yes, this is a sign of a serious mental disorder – bi-polarism. However, this is different here. Suppose you are feeling pretty good, and someone says, “Are you feeling okay? You look really tired today.” You are immediately thrown into a tailspin and your mood falls through the floor for the rest of the day. This is not a mood change of a person who is using his/her conscious, rational thought. This is the subconscious bringing up old baggage.
3. You Adopt Some Bad habits
These are usually a form of escapism. You have some painful things in your past, you may not remember what they are, but you are consciously feeling unworthy, unloved, incapable, etc. So you shop, you gain weight, you become a couch potato in front of the television, you drink, etc. This only reinforces those negative beliefs about yourself that are living in your subconscious.
4. You Consistently Speak and Think About the Past or the Future
People who are positive in their outlook live in the now. Today is their focus – what they are accomplishing, thinking, and being. This focus on the past or future usually comes from subconscious programming that you were much happier in the past or that you will be in the future. You cannot be happy now because there are negative things going on in your life.
5. You Have Worries, Anxieties and Fears
Sometimes, we may not know where our worries or fears come from. We just have generalized anxiety or a small issue paralyzes us. We worry about things that have not happened.
A family once had planned a trip to Colorado. The mom found herself unable to sleep at night – she was worried that their little girl would fall off of a mountain and ruminated on this as soon as she got into bed. She had programmed this fear into her subconscious and it was now controlling her sleep. She even realized it was not rational but still it persisted.
6. You are Judgmental of Self and Others
When we have programmed our subconscious that we are flawed, stupid, and incapable, then we see that in ourselves and in others. Nothing is ever good enough, and we focus only on the negative aspects of any situation. We look for those little negatives, in order to reinforce our subconscious beliefs. – Uggh!
Now for the Antidote
The wonderful thing about the subconscious mind is that it is programmable. And even though we have programmed it with some pretty negative stuff in the past, we can stop right now and start re-programming it with positivity. When we accomplish this, our world’s really do become better and brighter places – places in which we can set goals and be optimistic that we will and can reach them; places in which we can have meaningful relationships and work lives.
Here are the steps for that re-programming:
1. Be Aware
The first step is to identify and accept the fact that your negative thoughts and behavior are there and in use. Which of the above behaviors are you engaging in? You can’t stop any behavior unless you are first aware of it.
2. Make a Commitment and Act Upon It
Decide that you really want to begin re-programming your subconscious. This is done by your thoughts and your words. Tell your family and close friends what you are working on and make sure they “call you out” when you start speaking negatively. When you start having negative thoughts, stop yourself. Replace each negative thought with something positive that is real.
For example, you are having some very negative thoughts about a friend who has not returned a call or a co-worker who has pointed out a mistake you made. Stop and replace those thoughts with something positive. Your friend who did not return your calls is the same friend who saw you through that last breakup. That co-worker is the same person who pitched in to help you when you were going to miss a deadline.
3. Get with Yourself
You should spend some time alone with yourself at the end of the day and visualize everything that went on. When were the moments of negativity? Take each of those moments and replace it with a humorous or positive thought.
Many people find that humor works very well, because it tells the subconscious that you are not going to take negative thoughts and words seriously. Others find that if they stop and ask themselves, “Will this matter 5 years from now?” that their answer is always “no.” And they thus tell their subconscious minds that those negative events of the day are insignificant and meaningless.
4. Ruminate on the Positive
Every time something positive occurs – you accomplish something and can give yourself a pat on the back; you learn something new; you have a great time out with a friend, etc. – you think about those things several times during the day and at least one of them just before you go to sleep at night. This positive rumination feeds that subconscious mind.
Negative thought is a habit – so is positive thought. Which would you rather have?
5. You May Have to Make Some Other Changes
If your workplace is so competitive that people are negative toward one another or if the atmosphere is just negative, you may need to look for something else. If you have friends and social groups in which negativity abounds, you need to move on. Part of not letting negativity get into that subconscious of yours is surrounding yourself with other positive people. Do this as much as possible.
Keep It Simple
Probably the best advice you can receive as you remove negativity from your life is to keep your positive thought simple. When you face a challenge, you do not need to think in terms of all of the detail of that challenge, of what could go wrong, of how the deadline is too short. The thoughts you need are simple – I am bright and capable; I can get this done. That’s it. When a relationship falls apart, keep it simple. That relationship was not right for me. I am worthy of a great one. It will come.
Wayne Dyer once said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” And he was dead-on.
Rick Riddle is a successful blogger whose articles aim to help readers with self-development, entrepreneurship and digital marketing. If you struggle to stop procrastinating, here is an article that will point you toward some steps to take. Connect with Rick on Twitter and LinkedIn.