What we are not aware has a larger impact on your life than what you may think. Image courtesy of Dreamstime.
The mind can be compared to an iceberg, with the portion that lies visible above the sea being our conscious mind. However, it is the much larger subconscious mind that is responsible for most of our beliefs. The subconscious is part of our mind that we usually are not aware of. The origin of deeply ingrained beliefs, thoughts and emotions are contained within it, and therefore may be influencing us without us knowing it.
That is why efforts to change the way we think just by telling ourselves to think positive may not be effective, because this is like pulling out a weed without pulling out its roots too. In other words, we haven't examined the deeper beliefs behind our thinking. This technique is therefore temporary and superficial.
Some of these beliefs may be unhelpful to us. They may cause us to think we are not worthwhile, not attractive or unintelligent. Of course, many beliefs are positive ones too.
It is the beliefs that must be uprooted to bring about positive changes, because our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are a by-product of these.
This does take time, but there are ways we can pull up these subconscious weeds, and in their place, plant new seeds of beliefs which can then blossom into healthier thoughts and feeling. Because the weed is metaphorically being removed by the roots, this is longer lasting in effecting change.
Techniques to change subconscious negative beliefs are:
1.Firstly, become aware of what your beliefs are.
A clue to this is recognising what your automatic negative thoughts are. Beliefs may be self-evident by becoming aware of self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviours. For example, you may have the belief that you "never finish anything." This may manifest in frequent unfinished projects, for example.
2. Write down your beliefs, both positive and negative. Awareness is a vital component to change.
3. Write down what you would like to believe.
It’s not about writing things which are untrue or unrealistic such as “I believe I am very tall” if you are five feet, and you have stopped growing.
3. The subconscious mind likes repetition or frequent exposure to the new beliefs you’d like to adopt.
Put a list of these on your wall where you can see them daily. Read them aloud or to yourself. Speak with emphasis and feeling.
Another method utilising repetition to imprint these new beliefs into your subconscious is through the use of affirmations. Affirmations involve writing or saying a statement, say ten times daily. Have a break for a week so you don’t tire of the process, and begin again.
The subconscious mind is strongly influenced by images. There are a number of ways to use imagery to change your beliefs. Visualising in your mind’s eye the way you want to be is one method. Or you put pictures on the wall, or make a collage of images that embody the essence of what you’d like your belief system to look like. For example, if you'd like to exercise more, you can put a picture of a fit, healthy (and happy) athlete where you can see it frequently.
5. Write a life script.
Write a story where you refer to yourself in the third person that describes a life reflecting your new beliefs. Write in the past tense. When you write like this, the subconscious is more likely to take what you’ve written as fact, and your old beliefs will dissolve over time to be replaced by desired ones. For example “Mary started exercising, and found this enjoyable. Over time, she found she gradually could exercise for longer periods of time. Eventually, her goal of participating in the 10km fun run eventuated within 18 months.” Read over your life script often. You can do it on computer, and therefore you can change it if you wish.
Changing subconscious beliefs takes time, and won’t happen overnight. Therefore don’t be disheartened if you don’t have a thought overhaul straight away. However, just as a seed takes time to be visible above the earth, so your beliefs will also eventually flower.