Wednesday

Subconscious Mind and its Impact on Our Behaviour

I can guarantee all of you would vouch for yourselves: "I have self-control." "I can control my behaviour." Surprisingly enough, our actions are little under our control and there is a driving force behind our every action.

Implausible as this might seem, I believe it is true. When you think before taking an action or deciding on something, you do so using your conscious mind. But life is replete with different actions at every moment and every step. All those actions are not always a result of your conscious decisions, but subconscious mind too plays a major role. The actions controlled by your subconscious mind are beyond your control.

The study of subconscious mind and understanding it can help improve your relations and help you know people better.

Know What Subconscious Mind Is

Let us take a simple example of car driving process. When you first learn driving, you completely focus on your car's gear and clutch. You concentrate deeply on the whole process. You notice every bump, every pothole, and every obstacle. As you become trained, your subconscious mind stores all your actions, and you start driving without making cognisant effort. You begin to avoid obstacles automatically, change gears automatically, while performing other actions at the same time such as listening to music, or talking on phone. Once you become a pro, the whole driving process becomes natural for you and your decisions become automatic.

Here is a little practical experiment to experience actions of the subconscious mind. Put your hand horizontally, with your palm facing upwards in front of you and imagine holding a lemon. Your mouth will water. Your conscious mind is aware that no lemon actually is present and that it is just an imagination. The subconscious mind, however, acts illogically and believes what the conscious mind is thinking. This makes your mouth water.

What Happens Inside Your Subconscious Mind?

Just like driving a car on topsy-turvy roads and evading potholes, you have been constantly driving through your life's journey- a ride that you began as a kid. There were several different potholes and obstacles that came your way, and you crossed all of them, and with vital learning all along.

Depending on whether your actions had negative or positive impact on you, important judgments were made by you on dos and don'ts, i.e. things you should and should not do. You made your own judgements on life's potholes and decided what should be done to avoid obstacles.

You gathered some knowledge and formed a knowledge base. You judged yourself, people around you and distinguished the good from the bad. Based on people's looks, all of you made conclusions. Just because you met some bad person who had grey eyes and a long nose, your kid brain came to a conclusion that all persons with grey eyes and long noses were bad.

If such experiences get repeated, even if by chance, your illogical beliefs obtain the support that you subconsciously look for: "I told you so. Didn't I?", you tell yourself. Your learning and judgment become reinforced. Just like car driving act goes into your subconscious mind by recurrent repetitions, an enormous deal of learning and judgments of your kid brain have gone into your subconscious mind by continual re-enforcements before you could grow up and evaluate them with your mature conscious brain.

Some of the rules you made may be totally illogical, but they are now so firmly placed in your subconscious mind that when you look at a person with the traits you defined in your subconscious mind's rule book, you will automatically respond in a specific way and wouldn't even know that you reacted that way.

Behaviour - Driven by Subconscious Mind

You perform certain tasks out of your conscious mind, but most of the actions are dependent on subconscious mind. They are same as reflex actions in certain ways, but vary in many ways. As far as physical reflex actions are concerned, there are some actions or disturbances in and around you, and before you realize, your body responds to the disturbance. But right after your reflex action, you realize how your body responded. However when the sub conscious mind takes control, usually, your conscious mind is unaware that you have responded to some sub conscious stimuli.

Conscious mind is analytical and logical whereas subconscious mind is said to be irrational. And since your behaviour is mostly governed by subconscious mind, you can envisage the outcome.

Affect of Subconscious Mind on Your Behaviour & Thoughts

There is a list of items in your subconscious mind, which contains the things you are "not ok" with. These items fall under two categories as follows:


  • Things with which you are comfortable and can comfortably say that "It is not ok for me" or "I cannot do this" or "That is not meant for me". You have no pangs of conscience when you say all this about certain not acceptable things.
  • Second category is of the things you find complex and those that hurt you. These include feeling hurt on knowing your short comings, having heartburn thinking about your weaknesses, and feeling ashamed to accept them.

Mostly, this second category is responsible for your abnormal and unnatural behaviour.

These are the items of which you formed some opinions about yourself ("I'm not ok") in your childhood, and then these thoughts got reinforced into your subconscious mind. Also, these could be related to some thwarting experiences when you had to be embarrassed about yourself, thus creating a "Not OK" opinion about yourself.

You would want to forget about these things. Your conscious mind might get rid of them but your subconscious mind always has them stored. Such things form your subconscious pain points.

You go through numerous experiences and incidents in life smoothly, but there are a few incidents which directly touch the pain points in your subconscious and you respond painfully. When you experience these pain points, you are overpowered with strange senses and your response is not under your control. These could be the same sensations and feelings that you initially had when you went through some unpleasant incident as a child, and which you tried to push beneath the carpet all along and made efforts to evict from your mind. In such situations, you become utterly helpless in your actions. You are then absolutely driven and perform uncontrolled actions. Your subconscious mind makes you helpless.

We all have our "pain points". And thus we all have our idiosyncrasies. Whenever pain points are touched, we respond sharply. Since the pain points vary from person to person, different people may respond to the same stimuli in a different manner. Someone may not care a damn about a comment over which the other person feels hurt.

Thus again, this illustrates the driven-ness of your behaviour – you are driven to an action and are totally powerless in these circumstances. You might not like to be under some control, but still you do operate in the way towards which your subconscious mind drives you to.

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