This week, Life Training Online is reviewing The Power of Your Subconscious Mind , by Dr. Joseph Murphy, the eighteenth of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.
The Treasure House Within You
The greatest treasure we could possibly uncover does not glitter like gold, neither does it require searching the depths of the sea or travelling to distant lands to find it. It resides within you. This treasure is the power of your subconscious mind.
Murphy felt that great men of all ages possessed a secret. This secret was their ability to contact and release the potentials of their subconscious mind and this book can teach you that secret.
Each of your thoughts are a cause and every condition in your life is an effect of those thoughts. We’ve all heard the saying, “Whatever thou thinketh, so art thou.” Murphy wholeheartedly agrees with this. If you can conceive it you can achieve it.
Your subconscious mind is also neutral. It accepts without conflict what your conscious mind decrees. Whether you say, “I can’t afford it” or “Money comes easy to me,” it will create experiences to match your dominant thoughts.
The Potential of Your Subconscious
Like an impressionable child, the subconscious responds to habit and habitual thinking — positive or negative. If we are careless with our thoughts, randomly letting negative thoughts impress upon our minds without any awareness on our part, we shouldn’t be surprised when they are expressed in day-to-day experiences and relationships.
Murphy felt that while bad things can happen to us — independent of our role in them — this is more the exception than the rule. Instead, the bad is already in us just waiting to germinate. Consistent negative thoughts provide all those seeds need to grow into the noxious weeds of bad experience.
While this is a harsh reality, this knowledge also grants our liberation. Understanding this means that we can actively choose what we feed our subconscious mind, blessing us with the opportunity for complete rebirth if we so desire.
Surrendering for Better Results
The subconscious mind does not respond well to coercion. Murphy discovered that it’s best to approach the subconscious with relaxed faith — allowing it to do its transformational work with ease. Unlike the consious mind which may be pushed into completing a task, the subconscious — when pushed — will short-circuit the entire process you are trying to fulfill. This attempt at success through willpower is counterproductive with your subconscious mind. It sees this as nothing more than an opposition to what you want done and responds in like manner.
Having relaxed faith allows the subconscious to work its magic, and the ease at which it accomplishes this magic is increased when you add emotion to the mix. For some reason unknown to Murphy, the subconscious responds better when thoughts are “emotionalized.” When thoughts become feelings and imaginations become desires, the subconscious will deliver what you want with speed and abundance.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind is the eighteenth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.
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How to make a difficult decision by tapping your unconscious
A while back I was in a relationship I wanted to end. I needed to decide whether to see if things improve or to just call an end to it and upset the person who loved me.
It took me weeks to make the decision. I didn’t sleep well. I had a recurring night terror in which I saw enormous shadowy spiders crawling up my bed toward me. Half-awake, I’d throw my sheets off the bed and scramble to switch on the lamp only to realise I was still dreaming. When I finally made the decision to end the relationship, the spiders stopped.
We are often faced with difficult decisions. We lose sleep when dilemmas we face churn over in our minds. We rehearse each eventuality with our thoughts and repeat them over and over, hoping that exhaustive analysis will eventually give us the right path to take.
Decisions are scary. Some of us live our lives avoiding them, and perhaps suffer all the more for it.
But there are ways to make a decision more quickly. By tapping our unconscious mind — the place where the spiders came from — we can take a deeper perspective on the decision. There are simple ways of doing this, and below I’ll give you one technique that will help.
The Unconscious Mind
Tough decisions cause a lot of trauma. This is partly because the thinking involved is so exhausting. Think of your conscious mind as being like a spotlight in a dark room filled with everything that’s happening in your life. It’ll shift from one thing to another, but that’s not to say nothing is happening in the darkness.
Most of our mental processing happens in the unconscious mind. When we drive, work or play a sport we’re often in a flow-like state where our unconscious does all the hard work. While we may not be actively considering our options in many given situations, the deeper (and far greater) mechanisms of the unconscious are at work on these considerations.
The term “unconscious” was coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling but is most associated with Sigmund Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis. Freud’s work was revolutionary, it gave us the notion that our unconscious mind — a part of us that we have very little control over — determines so much of our behaviour, including our decisions.
Ideas and memories buried in the non-conscious mind, Freud believed, could account for our fears, phobias, neuroses, desires and pleasures. Before Freud, it was widely assumed that human beings were perfectly rational, that our decisions were based entirely on conscious calculations. Freud’s work showed that is not even half the story.
The mind, Freud’s followers contend, is like an iceberg. Only a small part of it is exposed to conscious introspection. We can only feel the force of the unconscious indirectly, such as its workings in dreams, psychological symptoms, slips of the tongue and the associative way we interpret things.
A classic way to get insight into the unconscious is the Rorschach test technique, named after Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, by which a patient is asked to interpret what they see in a random inkblot.
The “free association” of the patient is interpreted by an analyst to reveal something that may not be “known” to their conscious mind. Latent traumas and buried (“repressed”) memories can be surfaced using these techniques.
But the unconscious mind is not just a place of lurking fears and neuroses. It’s a plentiful well-spring of creativity and wisdom. In so much as there are ways to reveal the symptoms of the unconscious mind’s darker aspects, there are ways to tap its enormous creative and intellectual potential.
Many a creative will tell you that it’s best to think about a problem for a while then let it go and get on with something else. The unconscious will work on the problems beneath the threshold of your attention. You will find that a solution will pop into your head at unexpected moments. Meditation, doodling and journaling are also ways of opening up the power of the unconscious.
The Coin Toss
What’s this all got to do with tough decisions? Well, decisions are exhausting to our conscious minds. We’ll likely be thinking hard about decisions because these junctures in our lives require a lot of speculative thinking. Making sense of the chaos around us is hard enough and it’s so much harder to make sense of the potential chaos to come on either side of a dilemma.
But while we may be turning things over in our minds — perhaps even having sleepless nights — all that information is making its way into the unconscious mind where it is also being processed.
To make a decision as tough as a job relocation, a relationship change, or a career change, it’d do us a lot of good to bring our unconscious mind’s emotional and intellectual depth to a dilemma. It might even save us a few sleepless nights.
When faced with a big decision many people have been tempted to leave their decision to fate. A common way of doing this is tossing a coin: “heads I take the work transfer and relocate to a new country, tails, I stay put.” This method is reckless and could do a lot of harm.
It is said (but unproven) that Freud had a much better way of helping people make decisions using a coin toss. Whether or not Freud discovered the method, it’s a powerful way to bring your unconscious to bear on the decision making process.
Toss a coin as if the coin is deciding your choice for you. Now, don’t act on the result of the coin toss but instead decide how you feel about the result. The coin toss forces you to consider how you would feel if the decision was made for you by the force of fate and circumstance.
The coin flip clarifies your feelings about the decision. Was the result what you hoped for? Are you disappointed? While the decision-making process forces us to use our conscious mind to speculate and calculate the outcomes of our choice, the coin flip suddenly brings our unconscious into play.
This is the full force of an intuitive “gut” feeling that is impossible to describe, yet so powerfully emphatic.
It may not make a decision simple, but it will bring to bear your true feelings and help you make your choice based on your emotional reaction to the result.
Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like my article on Marcus Aurelius:
You’ve probably heard the idea that people only use 10 percent of their brain. According to Moran Cerf, professor of neuroscience and business at the Kellogg School of Management, that is a complete myth.
No one can pinpoint exactly where the myth originated, but it can be traced as far back as the early 1900s, when psychologist William James argued that “humans only use a small part of their mental and physical abilities,” in his book “ The Energies of Men”.
Research shows that you can access much more than 10 percent of your brain. In fact, your entire brain may be used at any given time, but the likely source of the myth, according to Cerf, is that you are only conscious and in control of a small percent. The rest is controlled subconsciously.
Cerf explains, “It is like the keys on your piano: not all of them are played all the time. At some point, each key is being used, but you wouldn’t say you’re using only 10 percent of the piano to play music.”
Hacking the hard-wiring of the brain could create superhumans.
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels
Similarly, in our brain, if you ask someone to see the world in shades of grey, they will fail. Even though processing colors is done in their brains, they cannot control the parts that govern the color processing. It is physically impossible for someone to access those processes that happen in their own brain, at least for now.
It’s also not possible to erase memories, remove information or control emotions at will. You can’t decide that you’ll be sad for 10 minutes and then happy for the rest of the day. However, Cerf argues that this could change.
Cerf, a former professional computer hacker for more than a decade, was curious if it was possible to “hack into the brain”, giving people access and control over unconscious systems.
He explains that the brain is currently wired like a one way road. Information goes in one direction. Neuroscientists call it “Feed-Forward” networks. It is nearly impossible for information to propagate backwards in the process.
By creating detours back to earlier points, neuroscientists could make information flow in both directions.
Working with patients whose brains were open for surgery, Cerf and his team placed electrodes inside the brain to create detours. In this state, they could access parts of the brain of patients and train them to have control over the parts that are normally inaccessible. The big question was: Could people change their interpretation of reality? In practice, they tested the theory on the perception system first.
There are multiple processes that happen before your mind sees: photons hit your retina, your brain aggregates the information into colors and shapes, and you eventually understand the image as, say, your mother.
However, if you could access the right sections of the brain, you could see one thing with your eyes and a different thing with your mind. You may see your mother, but elicit the thought of your father in your mind’s “eye”. This is just what Cerf’s research team did, but the possibilities don’t end there. With additional training, they could enable participants to alter what they heard. Imagine hearing a bully insult you, but your mind chooses to ignore it completely.
The study’s findings suggest that with more control of their brain, people could have more power and governance over their lives. You could see and hear what you want to, instead of what comes naturally through the senses. You could control how you feel, which could potentially end depression.
It could have incredible implications for relationships, work, satisfaction, and productivity. On the other hand, there’s the potential for backlash on mental health. What will happen if everyone sees themselves as fit, healthy and friendly, but in reality, they are out of shape and antisocial?
Additionally, if people have these abilities they might evolve so far beyond the rest of us that we would no longer be seen as equals. In his recent TED talk about the work, Cerf uses the example of the world’s smartest chimpanzee: It can interact with humans in a way that is similar to a two-year old child. Yet, we don’t consider these apes as part of our species. Will humans who developed absolute control over their minds consider us part of theirs, or would they view us the way humans view chimpanzees?
There is no doubt that Cerf’s accomplishments are incredible, but they also raise many questions about the implications for humans as a species. What is clear is that we should be asking these questions now, so that we are prepared to tackle the potential impact as is it becomes real.
Your conscious mind is in charge of decision-making, and you’re in constant contact with it. The subconscious mind, on the other hand, is in charge of how you actually react to everything in your life; it has a powerful influence not only on your happiness but on how successful you can be at manifesting the life you desire.
The ancient Hawaiians worked with the subconscious in order to release a buildup of negative emotion and boost well-being and this is something you can learn to do too. If you want to train and control your subconscious mind, try these six tips and tricks.
1. Work With It, Not Against It
You’ll get the most mileage out of working with your subconscious if you view it as a potential ally and not an enemy. It has important roles to play and can offer you unique wisdom that should be honored rather than rejected.
So as you apply the techniques you learn, try to take a gentle and curious approach instead of beating your subconscious into submission.
2. Connect It To Your Body’s Suffering
Research suggests that one of the subconscious mind’s main goals is to ensure that your physical body’s survival at all costs. So, if there’s a behavior you want to change (such as a bad habit that’s holding you back), try to show your subconscious mind how that specific behavior is hurting your body in some way.
You can do this by distilling the connection into a straightforward sentence and repeating it several times (similar to an affirmation).
For example, you might say “If I didn’t get so stressed over little things then I wouldn’t get so many bad headaches” or “If I could respond with calmness instead of anger, I’d lower my blood pressure and protect my heart.”
3. Look To It For Health Guidance
Your conscious mind doesn’t have power over your body’s basic functions (such as your immune system, heart rate and so on); these domains are instead influenced by your subconscious and unconscious mind.
Some experts believe that these parts of you not only have insight into how your body is now but also how it would be if it was in best condition.
So, try looking to signs from your subconscious (such as dreams and gut feelings) to discover what you need to do to attain better health; this is not so much a way of training your subconscious as it is a way of training your conscious mind to speak to your subconscious.
4. Engage With It As You Would With A Child
Your subconscious mind is a lot like a child of about 7 or 8. It likes to be useful, responds only to very clear instructions, and takes what you say entirely literally.
In other words, if you use a helpful metaphor like “My boss is a pain in the ass!” your subconscious mind can actually find some way to make sure that you’ve got achy hips when you’re in the office.
Further, your subconscious has a moral compass that’s also similar to that of a child; it takes messages from your parents very seriously. So it may believe things you’ve since rejected as an adult, and you need to directly engage with those damaging messages (and their causes) in order to give your subconscious productive new beliefs.
Therapy is one way to access and rewrite these old assumptions, but you can also do something like this by using Law of Attraction exercises that target limiting beliefs.
5. Induce Emotions To Reshape Subconscious Responses
As well as understanding very little literal language, the subconscious utilizes strong emotions to get your attention.
So, for example, you may feel extremely afraid all of a sudden, and this will be because your subconscious has picked up on something it believes may threaten your survival.
If your subconscious is getting it wrong sometimes (e.g. if it’s producing a fear response due to old trauma and not direct danger), you can help to train it by deliberately inducing positive feelings in triggering scenarios.
Positive music can rewrite these types of emotional responses, as can the company of a loved one who makes you feel safe.
6. Avoid Negatives
Due to your subconscious mind’s “young” approach to information, it prefers pictures to words. It often generates unhelpful pictures if you use negatives when making plans!
So, if you say “I don’t want to forget how to explain this!” before a presentation, your subconscious generates a picture of you fumbling through your presentation!
Juggling conscious experience with the machinations of the mind can create the ultimate audience experience.
Derren Brown began his UK television career in December 2000 with a series of specials called Mind Control. In the UK, his name is now pretty much synonymous with the art of psychological manipulation. Amongst a varied and notorious TV career, Derren has played Russian Roulette live, convinced middle-managers to commit armed robbery, led the nation in a séance, stuck viewers at home to their sofas, successfully predicted the National Lottery, motivated a shy man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet, hypnotised a man to assassinate Stephen Fry, and created a zombie apocalypse for an unsuspecting participant after seemingly ending the world. He has also written several best-selling books and has toured with eight sell-out one-man stage shows.
DERREN BROWN: When you work I think with any sort of magic you become a very good applied psychologist just in a very niche area, which is why it’s generally magicians that are brought in to kind of test for psychic claims and that kind of thing to sort of debunk or look for that kind of evidence because scientists get fooled very easily like the rest of us, magicians are just very good at understanding how that sort of thing can work and be fooling. So, you’re working with conscious and unconscious processes, so for example, to take an idea of just a card trick, say you start a card trick and the deck has to be in a special order in order for the trick to work, but there’s a point halfway through the trick where it’s safe for the person to shuffle the cards, but if they shuffle at the beginning it would ruin the whole trick. So, maybe at the beginning you shuffle yourself as the magician but it’s a false shuffle you’re not really shuffling the cards but it looks like you are, but halfway through the trick you hand them the deck and you say to the spectator, who so far has not shuffled the cards, you say to them, “Shuffle the cards again but this time do it under the table.”
Now, that doesn’t make any sense because they haven’t shuffled the cards before, but in as much as they’re now taking the cards and shuffling them under the table and following that instruction you’re starting to play with the memory of what actually happened in the trick. So, now you’re essentially planting a false memory that they had shuffled the deck before. It’s not a guaranteed thing, but when they start to narrate the trick afterwards you start to see how these false memories are fitting into play. So, a big part of performing any sort of magic is controlling that narrative afterwards by playing with things like false memories so any magician becomes very good at doing that sort of thing.
My tool kit is the ongoing experience of both the audience and the people that come up on stage so I use rapid hypnotic induction techniques with people that come up on stage and they vary in efficacy from night to night, but generally they work. So there, for example, I would be using an unconscious process there of using bafflement and bewilderment to my advantage. So, if you imagine that somebody comes up to you in the street and says “It’s not half past seven.” Your reaction isn’t to go oh yes I know it’s 20 to two, your reaction is normally would be to feel baffled and thrown by that like you’ve sort of missed something. And when we are baffled we become hyper suggestible because we’re looking for a way out, we’re looking for a clear steer, a clear direction out of that towards information that makes sense so I use that a lot. Politicians use it a lot so they give you a bunch of statistics that you can barely follow and then they say so therefore, dot, dot dot. And you’re much more likely to then accept that information than if they’ve started off with that information because it’s relief from the sort of the bafflement of the figures that they’ve just given you.
So, I use it when people come up on stage they are naturally disoriented by the experience of suddenly being in front of 2000 people that they can’t see because it’s just dark and it’s odd and they’re suddenly looking to me for directions. That’s a very powerful position in terms of influence. It’s great because from the audience it doesn’t necessarily look any different, I mean someone has just walked up on stage, but you don’t quite appreciate the level of sort of confusion that that person can then be in. So, I hypnotize through a handshake, I go in for a handshake and then halfway through the handshake I interrupt it, which again is just adding another level of bafflement because now you’ve got this automated process of a handshake that’s suddenly interrupted, which leaves us completely flummoxed. So, then an instruction to go to sleep, or to, you could stick someone’s feet to the floor. You could maybe take their voice away. There’s a whole lot of things that you can do at that moment because you’ve created this sort of maximum responsiveness gets in at a level that seems to bypass the normal conscious filters.
So, I’m using that sort of stuff a lot. And then the whole show is really structured around those kind of things. I’m filtering for suggestibility, filtering for people that are going to respond well to what I do. It’s sort of a constant sort of juggling of the conscious things that we are appreciating and the unconscious things that are guiding how we are appreciating them.