Be sure you’re sending the right message.
Below the surface of our conscious everyday thoughts, lies a field of information stored in our subconscious mind. Unlike the unconscious mind, whose material we’re not aware of, the subconscious mind lives on the fringes of awareness, subtly and subliminally influencing our waking experience.
It’s all there, from the trivial to the sublime. The subconscious mind registers everything, day after day, from large to small, through our senses, our emotion, our understanding, without doing anything particularly creative with that input. It simply says “yes” to it all.
As kids, we have no filters. Whatever we’re exposed to, we take in, and become. That’s how we brilliantly learn language and social rules but also how we take on some ideas and beliefs that may not serve us. What we hear from the significant people in our lives when we’re children lays the foundation of what we tell ourselves and how we feel about ourselves as adults.
One study with 4-year-olds demonstrated that in America, children hear twice as many negative, prohibitive things from adults as they do positive, self-affirming things—every day.
Year after year, these subconscious messages add up to influence core beliefs about what we can and can’t do, what we do and do not deserve, what we can and can’t have. Even our sense of lovability lives in the shadow of our subconscious.
Like a hairy dog walking through a briar patch, our subconscious picks up lots of leaves, twigs, and barbs. By the time we’re adults, we end up needing a good comb-through. (That’s what therapy is.) We people are sensitive that way.
Kids don’t have a patent on passively absorbing the environment. Commercial advertisers know this and take advantage of our subconscious mind’s tendency to take things in and make them our own: with catchy jingles, strong, suggestive imagery, and lots of repetition. Even with adult filters in place, we’re still vulnerable.
The good news is there’s a lot we can do to enhance our subconscious landscape and get our inner lives on a positive track. Consciousness is the cure. As a psychotherapist who’s worked with thousands of people, and who’s worked hard for my own mental health, I say it’s time to drench the subconscious with positive and life-affirming input. One way to clean a dirty bucket is to pour in lots of clean water. As it overflows, the dirt comes out, and then, free from past imprints and filled with the pure water of life itself, we finally get to be naturally optimistic and happy. We deserve it.
Tips for Internal Positivity
Notice negative phrases you hear yourself repeat: “It can’t hap-pen for me.” “I’m too fat.” “I never get it right.” Then write and post the opposite as an affirmation on your mirror, computer, refrigerator or wherever you’ll see it. Surround yourself with good. Remember: repetition creates habit, and habit rebuilds subconscious pathways.
Exercise with Affirmations
The body plays such a large role in what goes into the subconscious. While you’re stretching or peddling, say those things you long to hear: “I’m in love with you!” “You’re a great soul!” (Two of my favorites). Reach your muscles with new information.
Let the child part of your psyche feel. Sometimes that means more than saying positive things. Make a safe space to feel and grieve the hurts. The heart does get over things; it just needs some space to process and let go.
Make Eye Contact
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and to the subconscious. Say good things directly to your friends and family: “I love how you speak your mind!” “You’re awesome!” If you declare it, you wear it. Show up as a positive person and hang out with positive people. Kindness turns even a desert into a ﬁeld of ﬂowers.
Article by Andy Roman MS, RN