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This post extends ideas discussed in Blind Spots and the Reticular Activating System.
Any thought that is passed on to the subconscious often enough and convincingly enough is finally accepted. —Robert Collier
To some of you, this will all seem obvious. But be honest: How often do you take your subconscious mind into account? How aware are you of your own blind spots? Could you be making decisions based on ideas and beliefs that were implanted, rather than chosen?
You are bombarded every day with an endless barrage of sensations: Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations.
Imagine if you had to consciously sort through all that incoming data to separate the important data from the unimportant data. What sights should you notice? What sounds?
You already know that the Reticular Activating System automatically filters your perceptions. But there is more.
Your conscious mind constantly has you perform a basic series of actions as you go through the day. Each time you come upon an experience, you perceive and connect, and then you evaluate and respond with some kind of action or no action.
I perceive something running towards me and I connect that perception with my experience and memory—a dog, but not just any dog. A Rottweiler.
I evaluate it. The last time a Rottweiler ran towards me, it bit me. This is not good. I respond by running away.
We think that is pretty much all there is to reality. We assume we see everything and choose our responses. But the reality is more like an iceberg. A small percentage of the whole appears above the surface.
Do you consciously go through each step? No. Somehow, your mind takes you through all these steps in milliseconds.
How does it do this so quickly? You can thank your subconscious mind.
Isn’t it funny how often we hear about the fact that we have a subconscious mind, and yet we never take it into account in our daily lives? Well, it’s time to start.
Because there is a significant minority of people around you who do, and sometimes they do so at your expense and their benefit.
Patterns, Habits, and Preferences
Your subconscious mind is a repository. It stores patterns, habits, and preferences. Your subconscious, especially as it relates to the RAS, constantly co-opts anything you do repeatedly and tries to make it automatic. That’s its job. It responds to what you do repeatedly.
When you first start learning to drive a car, you are conscious of every turn of the wheel and the movement of your feet. You have to be because it’s not yet habitual.
Your subconscious notes the repetitive activity and stores the patterns. Soon, you’re driving down the road for minutes at a time and you forget that you are driving.
How do you stay on the road? Your subconscious takes over and keeps you doing what you have done so many times before. It makes your driving automatic to free your conscious mind to focus on other things.
And that’s it in a nutshell: The subconscious takes over whatever you do out of habit—whatever you repeatedly prefer, whatever repeated pattern you create—and makes it automatic.
So you don’t have to think consciously.
The same is true with learning how to type. Most typing teachers will tell you that there is a 20-words-per-minute limit to conscious typing. There is a barrier that you cannot consciously pass.
When you learn how to type, you have to learn to let go, allow it to become habitual (subconscious). Then you can reach 50, 60, 100 words per minute.
Piano players and other musicians know the same thing. At first, you have to practice, practice, practice. At a certain point, proficiency and speed pick up as you allow the activity to become more automatic, more a part of your subconscious.
You don’t think; you just play.
In life, we lean toward things we like and away from things we dislike. The subconscious begins to co-opt and make automatic our repeated likes and dislikes.
Our cultivated preferences become habitual. They become a part of us, and we soon believe that these preferences are instinctual, determined, and automatic, rather than learned.
So here’s the kicker—just like patterns, habits, and preferences:
What you repeatedly believe to be true
also gets stored,
whether it’s true or not.
Your subconscious is not interested in what is really true, only in what you repeatedly believe to be true.
Anything you strongly believe to be true gets stored as the “Truth,” as “Reality.” And it becomes part of your makeup, your personality, as integrated into you as your driving, your typing, and your preferences.
This storage includes both the “Truth” about “Reality” out there and your picture of yourself in here.
What do you imagine about yourself?
Is everything you imagine about yourself true?
Do you focus on the rocks in the path of your life, on what limits you?
On what actually might not be true about you?
Or, like when riding a bicycle, do you focus on the way around the rocks?
Remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? There may have been a pothole in the road or a rock. Let’s say it was a rock.
Obviously, you did not want to hit the rock. You wanted to go around it.
But because you were young, you focused on the rock so much that, well, what happened?
You hit the rock. Because that was what you focused on.
What you now know is that to miss the rock you have to focus on going around the rock.
You focus on where you want to go,
not on what you want to avoid.
You always go where your attention goes.
You know this when you drive on a freeway and think about changing lanes. What happens? You start drifting into the lane you are thinking about.
You don’t get what you want in life. You get what you picture. And what you picture is related to your imagination.
And we’re not talking just about what you imagine. What do others imagine about you? (Your parents, friends, teachers, everyone else.)
Is what they imagine about you true?
And how often do you imagine what others imagine about you? Do you really know?
Do you think it might be time to get some of these rocks out of your head?
What you repeatedly imagine to be true about yourself gets stored as your Self-Image (your Self-Imagination).
And you are not the only one crafting it.
You hold pictures of how the world is supposed to be.
You hold pictures of how you are supposed to be.
You recall pictures from the past.
You perceive filtered pictures of the present.
You imagine pictures of the future.
To your subconscious, all pictures are Here.
In the Present.Published in