What I’m about to outline here is not a full explanation of the subconscious but simply one aspect of it that it is helpful to understand in relation to being able to self-improve effectively.


Our subconscious mind is a collection of conclusions reached by our conscious mind through its thought processes and experiences and effectively acts as our autopilot when the conscious mind is preoccupied with other things. The conscious and the subconscious work together for us to learn: the conscious mind discovers and the subconscious remembers. For example, if we place our hand on an object and it turns out to be very hot, the conscious will acknowledge that the pain is coming from the object and then the ‘that object can be hot’ stored conclusion would go into our subconscious meaning we would automatically approach the object with more caution in the future.


Trouble can emerge if we carry conclusions in our subconscious that hinder our personal enjoyment and progression in life. Distressing experiences can give us a disproportionately negative view towards things- like how traumatic car accidents can lead to a fear of travelling by car and similarly bad relationships can make people stop looking for love. Also as we meander through life we can simply make incorrect conclusions based on a wide variety of factors such as flawed logic, misleading evidence, unjustified associations and bias.


All self-help is essentially about discovering unhelpful conclusions held in our subconscious and trying to replace them with positive ones.


Unfortunately it can be very difficulty when trying adopt a new belief or attitude – largely for two reasons:


Firstly the sub-conscious mind isn’t always receptive to taking in new ideas.


In an intense emotional state (positive or negative) the subconscious mind is very receptive and will take on messages (hence why car crashes can give people a fear of driving), but in everyday life it can be a bit of a lottery as to whether your going to take something on board. Think back to when you were at school- did you not find that some exam answers you could always remember whereas others always seemed to elude you?


‘A limerick is a 5 lined poem- the 1st line rhymes with the 2nd line, then the 3rd line rhymes with the 4th line, and then the 5th line rhymes with the first two lines’


That was one of those things our class was told and it is still embedded in my memory years later despite not being particularly useful or interesting, not least to a 10 year old. It just so happened that at the point when my teacher was talking my subconscious was tuned-in resulting in the information going directly into my memory bank.


To try to get the subconscious to accept new information can be tough- if nothing else one method is just to keep repeating the same information back to yourself and it should sink in eventually. Hypnosis is another way; it works by putting the mind into a state/trance that makes the subconscious receptive to taking in new information. I’d recommend reading into it if you haven’t already- this link as a decent place to start. http://healnowtherapyhypnosis.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/what-is-hypnotherapy.html


The second complication to adopting new attitudes and approaches is that there may be old stored conclusions that contradict your current goal. 


When you have an area that you wish to improve on in your life be it exercise, eating habits, confidence, motivation or whatever and you find that despite how you’ve tried before you just seem to slip back into your old ways, then this usually is a sign that there is an old stored conclusion in your mind blocking your progression. It is important to find out what these old thought(s) are so that you can reopen/reassess the issues in your head. If someone has the opinion ‘I’m ugly’ implanted in their mind then they will have great difficulty in trying to improve their confidence until they address this view.


It is tough work trying to adopt a new approach, the old ways have a habit of creeping back in without you even realising. I’d largely put it down to the chimp brain taking comfort in staying with known rituals and habits rather than branching out because the new is unknown and thus threatening – a unhappy known is at least safe and therefore desirable by chimp brain logic. I’d recommend reading more about the chimp brain it helps me realize when I’m being my own worst enemy- this article might give you some help.  http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/newsbusiness/motley/8433951/investing-badly-blame-your-chimp-brain) Note: the chimp brain is not the same as the subconscious


Often to turn over a new leaf you need to reassess and re-order the prioritise in your subconscious mind. Essentially every creature is pleasure seeking – no one intends to be unhappy its just everyone has different prioritise they attach different amounts of worth to and this is the basis for our decisions making, thus people who make themselves unhappy do so because they have unhelpful prioritise based on incorrect conclusions that result in them making unprofitable decisions. Examples include people who spend most their life working at a job they hate because of the priority placed on making large amounts of money, or someone who avoids socialising because of prioritising evading potentially awkward social situations despite them being lonely.


If you are trying to adopt something new it usually means that something old you were attracted towards doing has to go – you need to consciously make the decision not just to do the new but to let go of the old. For example, a person may well wish to loose weight- and consciously aim to do so, but if loosing weight is not prioritised above ‘enjoying eating’ by the subconscious when push come to shove eating will be the superior.


Also, and this is important- be sure you actually emotionally agree with what you say you want to do – and by emotionally I mean that the new alternative genuinely feels desirable compared to the old ways (that will mean the subconscious is won over), not just something that logically you concede would be better for you. Unless you have a desire that you feel warrants a change where are you going to find the motivation to do it? We aren’t motivated by logic, we are motivated by emotions.


If you logically want to make the positive change but you know that emotionally you don’t feel the desire then first make the effort to convince your subconscious that you want to do it- read around your subject, find its benefits and then explore your desires/what you want from life and analyse what is stopping you changing and see if you can shift your emotional outlook. Only once you have convinced yourself emotionally to change will you realistically be able to do so.


If there’s something to learn from this article it is this: if you want to change yourself you’ve got to know yourself. The conscious mind is logical but the subconscious is not – take the time to try to discover conclusions held in the subconscious that are not in line with what you consciously want and then move to change these views. It can be done- explore, understand, convince, repeat- good luck!