The Subconscious Mind and Resistance

The Subconscious Mind and Resistance

BY Dr. Athena Staik

March 16, 2023

Have you ever wanted to break a habit, and found it seemingly impossible? 

Ever hoped to start a new healthy behavior, yet didn’t follow through – repeatedly? If so, you know the stuck feeling.

Despite good intentions, if seems a part of you, in certain areas of your life, 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, most likely you’re experiencing incongruence between the goals of your “conscious” and “subconscious” mind. How can your mind have opposing goals? Simply put, parts of your brain perform different jobs.

Think of your mind as having two main parts, the conscious and the subconscious. Your conscious mind is the part that helps you plan, choose, reflect, dream, execute plans, and so on. In contrast, your subconscious mind is in charge of your emotions, directives to ensure you survive and thrive, and running all systems of your body that you don't have to think about.

This means, on the one hand, the subconscious controls the activation of the body's “fight or flight” system whenever you say things to yourself that elevate your anxiety. It is also in charge of your higher instincts to love, meaningfully connect, self-actualize in life, making meaningfully contributions.

When the conscious and subconscious parts of your mind work together cooperatively, your brain works optimally, as it is designed to do. In cases where the two are in conflict, however, the subconscious mind most always has its way. Why? Because its primary directive is to ensure your survival. (After all, to survive is a prerequisite to thrive, right?)

Since the subconscious, on its own, makes no distinction between a physical and an emotional threat, it reacts to your not feeling valued by something someone said in the same way as it would facing a tiger in the jungle.

But, you may say, you “know” deep down this is not a threat to your survival! Though true, logic does not shape your behaviors when your survival system gets triggered.

The subconscious functions like the operating system on your computer. It depends on getting commands from you to operate. If one of your beliefs is limiting, this can automatically, and yes unnecessarily, activate your body’s “fight or flee” response.

When your survival response is activated, it high-jacks your thinking brain. Regardless that you consciously know there is no threat to your physical survival,  your entire mind and body are prepared to fight or run away from a tiger in the jungle.
It may not make sense to your conscious mind, however, emotions shape behaviors, not logic. That’s right. Emotions inform your choices and fire neural patterns that determine whether you take action or what action to take.

This is why or the learned ability to master your inner world of thoughts and emotions, to put on a mindset of success, is essential to your personal happiness and your relationships.