What Is The Conscious And Subconscious Mind?

What is the conscious and subconscious mind? We run our lives with 5% of our conscious mind and 95% by our subconscious mind. Therefore, it is important to understand how these two are functioning and how we can influence the major part of our mind in order to serve us the way we want.  We should understand how it is made up and why it is the major cause of how we experience the world around us.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind can be considered to be everything inside of our awareness while it is consistently observing and categorizing. This is what we experience and focus on in the present moment and what we can talk and think about rationally and objectively.

It can hold only one thought at the time which could have the function of identifying incoming information through our senses, comparing them with our memory stored in our subconscious mind, analyzing any possibilities, and deciding yes or no for that information being relevant or not, or if it is requiring some sort of action or not.

The conscious mind  can be educated relatively easily with the effort of reading, watching videos and other forms of learning but cannot change the subconscious mind easily. Your spiritual entity can be considered to be in your conscious mind.


The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind on the other hand is the habitual mind and is working like a machine or like a computer. All our memories, experiences, beliefs and habits are stored in it, therefore it could be considered as being the subjective part of the mind. However, it is not “spirited”, it is not who you are, you cannot talk to it like to a person because “nobody is inside”. And no matter what your memories are, they are just that: memories. You can recall them and even feel them again but they are not what you are right now.

How it works

In this sense it can be said that the conscious mind commands and the subconscious mind always obeys as an unquestioning servant. Your subconscious mind tries to keep everything consistent with the things you have thought, said and done in the past like an autopilot. This is what defines our comfort zone.

In my old home I had to turn on the light whenever I entered the bathroom because there was no window inside. But sometimes the light was already on and I realized it of course and I knew I won’t need to turn it on. But my hand almost always moved automatically to the switch anyway and I even wondered for a second why I cannot move the switch in the desired direction.

Although this might not be the best example, it illustrates how we act on autopilot. So we are kind of trapped in our, willingly or unwillingly, self-defined comfort zone that is working like a software with certain sub-routines and auto responses. This software works very well for what it was programmed for but anything that is requested which is not written in the code will cause an error message or problem.

Although our conscious mind is in command, the subconscious mind has a substantial influence on how we either consciously or unconsciously decide. Its need for consistency will pull us back whenever we move out of this “consistency field”. So anything that goes beyond or against our habits and beliefs makes us feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and reconsidering. On the other hand, anything that is within this “consistency field” makes us feel good and will send positive emotions.

We are influenced by our subconscious mind

Limited willpower

It is very important to understand that we have limited willpower. You can command your subconscious mind to go for a run or to stop smoking for a while, but eventually you will not run over and over again until you stop doing so. And because this annoys you so much, you probably have to smoke a cigarette to calm you down, because this is what you always do when you are angry or upset and have to calm down. The important thing to know is that we have only a certain amount of will power each day. If that will power is consumed up we fall back to whatever it is you have to overcome by your will.

Your conscious mind simply cannot remain focused on one thing all the time, so eventually it will shift its focus on something else. That is when your subconscious mind takes over and puts you on autopilot running the “OLD HABIT-PROGRAMME”.

Reconsideration leads to procrastination and paralysis through analysis. Finally, due to our limited willpower we decide not to change anything because the subconscious mind is pulling us back over and over again from anything that is new.

But again it is your CHOICE to reprogram the code or not. You are limiting yourself by not unleashing your full potential. The capabilities of the subconscious mind are immense in any way imaginable regarding its processing capabilities, storage capacity, memory and the way it can provide us with answers for complicated problems. But as it is working like a computer its output is as good as the input of the user.

How we can reprogram it

In order to change your habits you need to talk to your subconscious mind in a way it is capable of understanding. Most important is that you have to act and move out of your comfort zone. Only then can you replace old habits by new ones and you will realize that after about 7 weeks you will have implemented that new habit in your routine without any problems. Then it will be actually hard to not do it anymore.

The subconscious mind learns normally in two ways:

  1. The first 7 years of life through hypnosis (children simply “download” everything they experience)
  2. Habituation/repetition (when we get older)

Reprogramming through repetition

If you want your subconscious mind to learn, you have to communicate to it in a language it can understand:

1. Hypnosis (at night or before sleeping)

2. Repetition (change your daily routine, doing things over and over again until your brain is rewired)

3. Autosuggestion (e.g. repetitive incantation: Every day in every way I am getting stronger and stronger)

4. Energy Psychology or Belief Change Modification: this is like installing new software on your subconscious mind (i.e. computer), one way to do so is the emotional freedom technique

Another subtle way to stimulate your brain is using brainwave entrainment which is not necessarily related to the subconscious mind but can help you to rewire your brain.

How does it respond when we ask for a solution?

It responds with hunches, ideas, and maybe even dreams. Whenever you had an idea you may have realized that this idea literally popped up. It is not you consciously deriving that solution. You just mentally described all the parts of the problems in your head and provided this input into your subconscious mind.

Then, after processing time you just got the idea, and then you can start to analyze consciously how the solution looks like and eventually approve it. Often we overthink our first idea and overanalyze it which will make it less effective or even useless. And often we end up thinking that the first idea was actually the best when it is too late, at least this is my experience.

Beware that these solutions that pop up have a limited validity, once you miss that opportunity things might not work out as intended.


We Create The World Around Us

Whatever we think, say, do or create starts with a thought in our mind. This thought is expressed by what we believe is the right answer in this very moment and in this very circumstance. We form this thought based on our past experiences, memories, emotions, and habits.

Any thought, plan, goal or idea held continuously in the conscious mind MUST be brought into our lives, into our experience and into our reality whether positive or negative. Whatever we hold consistently in our mind will eventually rewire the subconscious mind. And the subconscious mind always delivers the solution we ask for. By changing your mind you can get aware of things that have always been there but you never realized them (did you ever notice the cat down the road?).

You are the gardener and the subconscious mind is the fertile soil. You decide if you want to have flowers in your garden or if you accept the weeds because this is what you have always done. Either way the subconscious mind will just deliver.

So there you have it. Please share and comment on what you think.

Did you ever have any solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem that just popped up into your mind?


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photo credit: Kiah AnkoorKeoni Cabral, woodleywonderworks, Celestine Chua

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