According to Freud (1915) the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behaviour. The most effective way to change behaviour is to work with the unconscious mind. This is why Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and Mental Emotional Release (MER) is a key part of my practice. An NLP practitioner works with you to understand your thinking and behavioural patterns, emotional state and aspirations. We work with the mind/body/energy connection, and one of the ways we do this is accessing the unconscious mind. This is because we can't solve our mindset problems or let go of emotional baggage solely at the intellectual level with the conscious mind. If we could, we would have resolved our problems long ago. Let's say our negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions are weeds and we deal with them by picking them and throwing away only the stems and leaves. They’ll grow back and stick around for as long as we ignore the plant's root. So how do we get to the root of these problems? Let’s first explore what the difference is between our conscious and unconscious minds.
Our conscious mind is our immediate awareness, all the things we are currently aware of and thinking about. It is responsible for rationalizing, analyzing, logical thinking, planning and even willpower. We often try to use our conscious mind to take care of our problems, which makes sense given that it’s our analytical and planning mind. However, when we ignore the role that our unconscious mind plays in solving our problems, we’re missing an integral part of the healing process. So, while the conscious mind is obviously going to play a role in our healing journey, it is not the only part to consider.
The unconscious mind has many prime directives. It stores memories, organizes them and represses memories with unresolved negative emotions. It even presents repressed memories for resolution or might keep repressed emotions repressed for protection. This is because it preserves the body and wants to keep you safe. This is one reason why change is so difficult. The unconscious mind thinks that since the change is different than the usual way of operating, it is too risky and we must stay the same to be safe. It's just trying to protect us, but this doesn't lead to personal growth! The unconscious mind also runs the body, it has a blueprint of the body now, and of perfect health. It’s responsible for many physiological functions like breathing and digestive processes. Your unconscious mind makes associations and learns quickly. The unconscious mind also maintains instincts and generates habits, and needs repetition until a habit is installed. Knowing this, it only makes sense that we need to involve the unconscious mind in our mental and emotional health.
Basically, the unconscious mind is the ‘hard drive’ of the brain. It is constantly being programmed with life’s data so it needs to have a system of storing that data. We can access these storage folders and make helpful changes-maybe it’s releasing limiting beliefs so you are able to trust yourself more, trust that you can be just as successful, beautiful, fun or happy as you want to be. Or maybe it’s that you have a quick fuse and would like to react with less anger. Well, if your unconscious mind is holding onto years of built up anger, of course you’re quick to experience anger or irritation. Once you get to the root of that anger and release it from the past, you won’t go off the rails when you stub your toe or your kid talks back to you. When we understand how our unconscious mind works, we can literally go in and rewire how you operate! You can take control of your beliefs and influences from the past that are creating obstacles to your desired outcomes and your ideal life.
There are even recent studies showing that we inherit a form of genetic memory; traumatic events in our ancestor’s lives can affect DNA and alter the brains and behaviour of generations that follow. This shows us that the emotional baggage we may be carrying around and that affects our well-being today, might not even be “ours”. The really cool part is that we can change this! We can replace negative thoughts and emotions with more helpful ways of thinking and release limiting beliefs that have been passed down to us through generations by reprogramming pathways in our brain.
You can start becoming aware of your unconscious programming through journaling, meditation and working with a trained NLP practitioner. The goal is to bring about a full collaboration between the conscious and unconscious minds so that they work together and you can overcome limiting beliefs, let go of negative emotions, resolve internal conflicts and gain control of your mental and physical health.