What your mind believes under the surface is controlled by your subconscious mind.
It is a hugely powerful tool when harnessed for self-development. However, when you let your subconscious mind run riot, never questioning what it offers up to you as truth, then you run the risk of falling short of your potential.
Here’s a selection of some of the surprising ways that this little-understood part of your mind can hold you back in life.
1. Subscribing to the idea that life is a destination
Life is a journey, not a destination. When we decide upon markers that constitute success and then set about achieving them with a gritty determination, when we get to the point of success we find that it has not made us feel any better about ourselves.
The feeling of success is fleeting; nothing lasts forever, everything comes and everything goes. The only thing that remains the same is that change is inevitable.
If you are measuring your success by some arbitrary criteria, most likely dictated by others, it won’t satisfy you. Rather, concentrate on the journey, on how it made you feel, what you learned in the process, the connections you made with other people.
If you can look back at what you have done in this way it is clear to see how far you have come in terms of self-development, and that is the ultimate marker of personal success.
2. Planning & worrying your life away
All we have is this moment, the past is gone forever and the future is yet to come. We know this, but often we don’t act as if we do. If you spend a lot of time worrying about what might be, you are wasting the present moment.
George Papadas of Visual Meditation has written that our subconscious is at its most powerful when we are giving our senses a rest. This happens when we are calm and relaxed. You can work with your subconscious mind at times like this to affirm the change you want to see in your life.
It is important to note, however, that the subconscious mind only thinks in the present tense (from To Succeed… Just let Go, Janus Publishing). Therefore, with this in mind begin your affirmations with ‘I am…’ instead of ‘I will’. ‘I am’ is a message the subconscious understands and it can help you to believe and act ‘as if’ in a very powerful way.
3. Reducing yourself to the sum of your actions
The human mind and body is a vastly complex system of processes. To reduce yourself to what you have been or done in the past is hugely underestimating yourself. Our past experiences and memories are stored within our subconscious, ready to be pulled up at a moment’s notice. These thoughts can be good or bad, but at the end of the day, they are only thoughts.
The past is gone and the way in which we recall events can be skewed by how we feel in this moment. If you feel good then you might recall a pleasant memory, but if you happen to feel like a failure, your subconscious mind will supply an abundance of memories which reinforce that feeling. Dwelling on these can really make us believe that we are simply a failure.
Try to remember that the subconscious is a database full of every emotion you have ever felt. It will find the results you are searching for instantly. The decision to treat these memories as fact is in your hands.
We all make mistakes in order to learn and those events that happened in the past were just a step on the road to becoming who you are today. Every situation we face helps sculpt us into who we are, so try to accept those old emotions, and let them be. Then refocus on the now.
4. Comparing your success to others
As mentioned earlier, measuring success in terms of randomly assigned benchmarks does not tend to result in long-lasting satisfaction. Even if you are approaching life as a journey rather than a destination, it is still possible to get caught up in the trap of comparing your success to others.
This very often manifests itself in milestone comparison. As young children, when we learn most of our closely held beliefs, it is instilled in us that success looks like getting married and having a family by a certain age; this is perhaps particularly true for women.
When women reach that age they start to feel pressure, one which very often stems from the societal messages instilled in their subconscious as a child, to comply with this social norm. If for whatever reason, this doesn’t happen for them, they then feel like a failure.
It is possible to retrain the messages held within the subconscious by being aware of the messages we tell ourselves. This can help us to walk our own path, in our own time, without being afraid of being left behind our peers.
5. Accepting beliefs as facts
Our subconscious records all the messages that we send to it via our senses around the clock. It stores everything and when messages are repeated over and over we begin to see them as truth.
The subconscious mind is programmed mainly from a young age and so by the time we reach adulthood, most of our core beliefs are already enshrined within our subconscious. However, just because we have heard a message so many times that our mind is programmed into believing it is a hard fact, doesn’t make it so.
Those beliefs that you inherited from your parents, the ones that you don’t agree with but you somehow ended up believing them anyway, they don’t need to be entrenched anymore. You can reprogram your subconscious mind by feeding it new beliefs in a conscious state.
When we are on auto-pilot, we listen to the ideas and beliefs stored within the subconscious mind, but when we are tuned into what we are thinking about we can send it new messages – ones which are more in keeping with how we see the world.
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