BY DR. ATHENA STAIK, PH.D.
March 16, 2023
Ever want to break a habit, and found it seemingly impossible?
Or set a goal for a new behavior, yet didn’t follow through – repeatedly?
Despite good intentions, it seems a part of you resists or opposes your wish to stop an unwanted behavior or to implement a new one.
Whenever what you do is not what you want to do, this often means that the goals of your “conscious” mind and your “subconscious” mind are in a win-lose competition. The conscious mind wants to make a change, and the subconscious mind resists.
Since the conscious and subconscious parts of your mind are designed to work together cooperatively to produce optimal results, this tells you they need you to step up and take the helm as a confident and well equipped captain.
When the two are in conflict, by the way, the subconscious mind most always "wins."
Why? Because the primary directive of your body mind is to ensure your survival. And this takes priority.
It helps to understand that these two parts of your brain perform different tasks.
Your conscious mind is in charge of the part of the brain that helps you think, plan, choose, reflect, dream, execute plans, and so on. In contrast, the subconscious is responsible for running all the systems of your body that you do not have to think about, i.e., cardiovascular, respiratory, autonomic nervous system, and so on.
Notably, the subconscious functions like the operating system on your computer. It has two main directives to ensure you survive and also thrive. This means your subconscious mind is in charge of your emotions, and activating your body's “fight or flight” system whenever it perceives something elevates your stress.
How powerful are the words you think and speak? Like a rudder on ship that change or keep a ship on its course.
Your body mind takes its job seriously and listens in to your self-talk, 24/7. It uses this information in the operation of all systems of your body, in particular, words about how you feel, what you believe about yourself, and life around you. A limiting belief, for example, tends to intensify core fears of rejection or inadequacy, which automatically--more often, unnecessarily--activate your body’s “fight or flee” system.
Since the subconscious mind makes no distinction between a physical and an emotional threat, unless you consciously intervene, it will treat something somebody said that upset you in the same way as if you faced a tiger in the jungle!
This can jam and block your attempts to thoughtfully resolve a situation or make changes. When your survival response is activated, it puts the thinking areas of your brain, the frontal cortex, offline. This means, in key moments, when you most need your capacity for higher thinking and reflection, you have no access. The frontal cortex is not in gear.
You may consciously know there is no threat to your physical survival, however, once your body mind activates your survival system, you are in black and white thinking mode, and the choices are to either fight or run away (from a perceived tiger.)
If it doesn't make sense, remember: Emotions have executive control of behaviors; not logic.
Your mind or mindset shapes your life. It's up to you to learn to self-activate your body's relaxation response, and thus develop the skills necessary to take the reins of your thoughts and emotions, disallowing your subconscious from unnecessarily activating your survival system.
Are you in charge of your emotional health and happiness?