How Much Does The Subconscious Mind Control?
How much does the subconscious mind control?
Can the subconscious mind do anything?
What are its limits?
These are all good questions, and in this article we will uncover the truth behind the subconscious mind’s domain.
Subconscious vs Conscious Thoughts
There have been many estimates regarding the number of thoughts the average person has in a day.
A recent 2020 study found that the average person has around 6000 thoughts per day.
The number was discovered after doing various brain imaging scans on 184 participants.
How many of these thoughts were conscious?
How many times throughout the day do you wilfully conjure a thought?
If you are like most people, most of your thoughts do not arise from conscious effort but from suggestibility.
You see a stimulus, let’s say a picture of an old woman, and your subconscious automatically creates an association with something else you experienced.
Perhaps the picture of the old woman reminds you of your grandma from your dad’s side.
This is the game being played for at least 99% of the thoughts we experience.
Occasionally, we need to make a conscious decision.
Your spouse asks you,
“What’s for dinner?”
And you must use your conscious mind to entertain the different options before deciding.
Information Processing: how much does the subconscious mind control?
Timothy Wilson (Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia) estimates that the brain receives 11 million bits of sensory information per second. But we can process only 40 bits per second. Temporary memory can hold only 4 bits of information per second (learn more about this from Tim’s book).
This means the conscious mind is unable to compute most of the data we perceive. What is in control of the other 11 million bits? The adaptive unconscious or subconscious mind has got the wheel.
You know this intuitively.
Whenever you learn something new such as driving a manual car, you consciously pay attention to all the variables.
You can’t focus on all of them simultaneously and must switch your focus between the variables (e.g., hand break, clutch, paddle, gears and steering wheel).
The whole thing is confusing and disjointed until your subconscious mind takes over some of the processing.
After driving for a few minutes, you no longer consciously focus on the steering wheel.
After an hour, you get a handle on the clutch. A couple more hours and you are starting to remember the placement of each gear without looking.
It takes some time for the subconscious mind to manage all the actions but do the activity long enough and it will become automated.
After a few weeks of driving manual, you will be able to have long conversations with your driving instructor whilst the subconscious mind does most of the work.
It’s a remarkable phenomenon many of us take for granted.
This process happens for all the habits we acquire in life. It’s not limited to just driving manual cars.
Anything that requires information processing will quickly be delegated to the subconscious mind.
Habits: how much does the subconscious mind control?
Dr. Bruce Lipton, American Biologist and New Thought leader, believes that the subconscious mind is behind 95% of our programming.
So, then I say how will I know what the programs are? You don’t need to go to a psychiatrist to figure it out. The reason why it’s simple, is that 95 percent of your life comes from the subconscious program. So, by definition your life is a printout of your subconscious programs.”
A program is simply a way of operating in any given circumstance.
When we get caught in the rain, most of us feel uncomfortable and run for cover. When we take a shower, we tend to stand still and enjoy the water running down our bodies.
The situations are almost identical, but we have developed different programs for them. You will notice kids typically have no issue playing in the rain while adults run in fear.
In time, kids will acquire new programming from their parents to keep away from the rain.
“Get out of the rain, you will catch a cold and get sick!”
We all have thousands of these programs – some obvious, others hidden in the shadows.
Each program guides our behaviours, helping form habits which in turn create the trajectory of our lives.
Programs are hard to break because the more they have been executed, the deeper the connection becomes in the brain.
The neuroscience adage
“Neurons that fire together, wire together”,
explains how our minds architecture changes based on our thoughts.
The more we execute habit or thought, the easier it is to ingrain that behaviour in our lives.
If you have been smoking for one week, you likely wouldn’t consider yourself a ‘smoker’. It would be relatively easy to quit the habit.
There is a grace period with any habit where you consciously must do the habit – you need to apply willpower.
If you have been smoking for 30 years, you will likely have a difficult road to recovery in front of you.
It will be difficult because your subconscious mind would have reinforced the habit thousands of times making it a formidable foe.
Recovery from addictions is always possible but only with the aid of the subconscious mind.
Typically, people who quit after 30 years do so when faced with an ultimatum.
“You are developing lung cancer and if you don’t quit you will die in the next 5 years.”
When most people hear this from their doctor, their subconscious programming for ‘survival’ overrides the 30 years of smoking.
How much does the subconscious mind control?
Hence why it’s so important to reprogram your subconscious mind for success. Most people don’t realize that their life is being driven by a hidden force.
Most people largely have no control over their destiny.
They are allowing the programming from parents, teachers and society to guide them.
If you want to master your life, it starts with mastering your subconscious mind.
Do this and I promise you will be one step closer to living and dying well.
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