The power of the subconscious
Have you ever thought about your subconscious? Do you know how much importance your subconscious has on your life? Do you know how you can influence your subconscious to support you?
We all live in times of change. By this I don’t just mean technical upheavals such as the infamous digitalisation and industry 4.0. I mean above all the change in values in society and the economy. Many wish for more humanity, more vitality, more participation, more esteem, more joy and lightness and much more. We feel that it is time to give up the energy-consuming competition and bring more cooperation and mutual support into our lives and work.
I have been involved in many change projects and I have been very interested in how change really works. I have read, tried, discussed and reflected on a lot of things. In this process I arrived at the very bottom, at the basis of change – our thoughts, feelings and attitudes as the basis of all our actions. And I have come to know and appreciate the effect of our subconscious. My motto is therefore: Create a mindset that supports you instead of blocks you. A large part of your mindset lies in the subconscious and is therefore not easily accessible to your conscious influence. It is even the case that your unconsciousness blocks you rather than supports you, the more you consciously set goals and create expectations – if these new ways work against your old, unconscious imprints.
With this article I want to shed some light into the darkness, because in my trainings, coachings and conversations I see again and again that most people are not aware of the effect of their subconscious. Because we cannot see the actual cause of the blockade – it is hidden in our subconscious – we believe that external circumstances slow us down and hinder us.
Let us first get into the connections and backgrounds.
How important is our subconscious?
The ratio of our subconscious to our conscious is about 95 to 5 % – some even speak of a less conscious part – 98 to 2 %. However, the absolute number is not important, it is rather a matter of becoming aware that 95 to 98 % of our perception takes place outside our consciousness. Yesterday on German television I watched a programme on the subject of habits, which had once again worked out the meaning of this distribution, which reads: “Our subconscious stores everything we once learned and found to be relevant. It gives us air so that we don’t have to consciously deal with the same routines every day. It provides us with space for the 2 – 5 % share of conscious perception. So that we have enough space to deal with our ideas, plans, concepts, future dreams and needs. Many of these unconscious routines make a lot of sense. These include walking, cycling, driving a car, swimming and much more. This also includes embossing that you have appropriated because you consider it to be sensible – or even indispensable:
- You try hard to deliver a result, a good performance, because you believe that you will gain recognition and be successful in this way.
- You compare yourself with others because you have learned this in school and you believe that such a comparison encourages you to become even better.
- You find structures, roles and authority meaningful, because you can immediately recognise who has the power, who can decide what and in this way you get orientation.
Such imprints and the automatic evaluations and judgements associated with them are also stored in your subconscious mind and have perhaps served you well on your previous path. In recent years, however, you have felt a change. You notice that you become more dissatisfied and simply no longer want to accept certain interrelations.
- We ask ourselves why leadership so often goes hand in hand with professionalism and so little with leadership qualities. We miss support and appreciation for our performance.
- We perceive how hierarchies and a concentration of power at certain points block necessary decisions and changes and feel how paralysing this is.
- We suspect that work should also be fun and make sense to us. Instead of merely fulfilling our duties and earning money.
- We notice in ourselves that our own performance demands sabotage us more than they help us. We seek a way out of this dilemma.
Something really has to change here now. That is already clear to you. I currently see an enormous number of people standing exactly at this point. But where exactly is the most effective lever for change that you can use in a targeted way?
The bypass of the conscious mind
The bypass of the conscious mind is a shortcut that creates space again in our limited consciousness.
Now your subconscious comes into play again. Do you still remember the function that your subconscious fulfills? Your inner programs run unconsciously because they save time and create space in your consciousness. This sentence is particularly important now: Some of these abbreviations, these inner programs, simply no longer make sense if you want to achieve other results and experience other things.
If you want to change basic things in your life, you need to take your time and see what is behind this shortcut. So that you can change it.
You have to be aware of what exactly triggers the start button of your inner program. You have to think about which inner program makes more sense or leads to a better result. You have to change this habit/program and transfer the new program into your daily routine and thus realign your subconscious.
I can’t resist one remark at this point: It’s interesting how many parallels there are between our subconscious and digitisation, don’t you think?
What the abbreviation stands for
How do you get to the bottom of this shortcut that keeps starting and running your old behavior programme? In my work with many people, I have noticed that there is a particularly effective lever here – our feelings. Our feelings are what sets us in motion, they are the trigger of our behavioural programmes. They trigger our emotional reaction. Let me give you an example:
Let’s assume that you are a project manager in a medium-sized company. Your boss commissions you with a new project, which is very important for the company. You already have a busy schedule and enough other things to do. You think secretly: He really has no idea what my everyday life looks like. You think to yourself: How am I supposed to manage that? You might think: It’s always the same song, they come up with something and my team and I have to implement it – without being asked. Maybe you even have completely different ideas on how to solve the problem.
These thoughts are associated with a sense of anger, frustration or helplessness, depending on your temper and personality. We are very often not aware of these feelings, but they always trigger an emotional reaction, i.e. a corresponding action. In this case, it might well be that you start the project against your better judgement. That you lock your resistance inside yourself. Simply because you are so used to it and the feelings associated with it are so unpleasant. Because it would have consequences that you would rather not imagine.
You take the abbreviation. Usually this happens unconsciously, perhaps you even have the feeling to save time.
It’s your choice
You always have a choice, unless you take the shortcut automatically. What could you or the project manager in my example do instead? This is where your awareness comes into play. Because the first step towards a new, more self-confident behaviour is always and without exception your awareness of the otherwise subconscious emotional trigger and the action based on it – i.e. effect.
You can only select a new, more suitable programme for yourself when you no longer take the supposed shortcut. Only then can you find out what you really need and proceed according to the situation and circumstances:
- You could talk to your boss and make him understand that you already see the importance of the project, but don’t have the time. That you’d like to talk to him about a mutually beneficial solution.
- If that doesn’t help, you can in any case think about what you need yourself to be able to do your job well. Then you can demand the necessary support.
- Or you can think about what helps you personally to recharge your own inner battery for the upcoming challenges. So that you don’t get bogged down. You can plan your time for all the things that are important.
In plain language, this means that without the necessary self-confidence about your abbreviations and the associated assumption of responsibility, there is no room for manoeuvre and no self-determination. Then you are damned to always have the same frustrating experiences that come from your automatic emotional reaction.
To all those who now think that you have no influence, I would like to share the following: If you always take the abbreviation, then you confirm the old system with your behavior, you even confirm it. This applies not only to managers, but to all people in companies.
If you become aware of your feelings, thoughts, imprints, emotional reactions and their effects, then you can set something in motion. You are already beginning to change the existing system. Because such a change or better said transformation, as we have it in front of us, is not a big bang that happens once and everything is different. It is not a tablet that we take and tomorrow we will all be on a completely different level of consciousness. This is not a one-time seminar that you attend and from next week everything will be completely different. But you probably know that best yourself.
This transformation is sometimes also a painful process. We do well to align our subconscious and our mindset in such a way that it supports us. This is the only way we can build up inner stability and security, because we become more and more aware of our effectiveness and our creative power.
Our feelings play a very important role because they influence our creativity and our openness for change and trying out new solutions enormously. If you know how to regulate your feelings, then you can make this process much easier. But that would be another new story.
Martina Baehr is a work and organisational psychologist and owner of Project Management plus - with the right mindset for project success. As a project supervisor and mindset coach, she supports her customers in building their inner strength. So that they act from their full strength and bring their projects to success in a relaxed manner. In her German mindset blog she writes about new thinking, emotional intelligence, intuition and value-adding cooperation.
Martina Baehr has worked in various medium-sized companies as a project manager and department head for internal process and systems consulting, and has more than 15 years of experience in managing large reorganisation and IT projects.