How Have I Become The Person I Am
April 6, 2020
You buy a computer, and you switch it on. If there is no built-in operating system to make the machine run, it is useless. For all the processing power, memory, and other engineering elements that a computer may have, if there is no operating system, it is not functional.
A new-born baby is a bit like a computer with no operating system. It does not have a conscious mind. Everything it sees, touches, hears, experiences gets downloaded into the fertile baby brain even before consciousness sets. This acquired information becomes the subconscious imprint or the core operating system that stays with the child as it evolves into an adult.
- If the parents are living a balanced, fulfilled life, the baby observes and records the positive tendencies.
- If the parents of the household have some underlying stress or fears, those get transmitted to the baby, child subconsciously.
- If the moral framework in the family and surroundings is robust, the baby will absorb and imbibe this.
The beliefs of the parents or the siblings around scarcity, abundance, health, morality, hard work, competition, relationships, etc. all get recorded in the subconscious DNA of the mind of the baby,
After the initial 7 or 8 years, the child starts learning new stuff through constant habituation. Riding a bicycle, developing best friends, going to school, favorite foods, learning concepts of Maths, English, Science. Slowly beliefs, habits, and memories form through repeated experiences, thoughts, emotions, feelings coming from everyday routines. Once learned, the patterns become embedded into the Subconscious mind. The subconscious spares the burden of relearning the same stuff every day.
Our experiences in our first 7 or 8 years, along with all the unconscious habits, become our Subconscious mind.
Our subconscious mind protects us. It observes both our body awareness and the surroundings, reads the environmental signals, and immediately engages previously learned behaviors, without the involvement or the perception of our conscious mind. It operates on autopilot and instantly, with little or no effort and no sense of any voluntary control.
- When crossing the road, it detects the difference in relative speed between 2 approaching cars and decides on the pace at which to cross the street.
- It can identify anger, sarcasm, love in the tone of words used in a conversation.
- It helps drive a car while speaking to a friend.
- Intuitively does simple mental calculations like 2X2=4.
- Does pattern recognition, reading simple sentences, completing incomplete sentences.
The subconscious mind can perceive the world around us- Recognize objects, orient attention, sense danger. It is also our subconscious mind that makes us emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever we try to do anything new or different from our established default habit or behavior. Emotions of fear, anxiety, and discomfort signal the activation of our subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind, as we grow, becomes the “Master Program” of our life. It controls all our everyday actions, behaviors, habits, responses. If you are finding yourself constantly frustrated, angry, anxious, jealous, they are all rooted in some way to the subconscious wiring that happened in your early childhood or experiences that got internalized through repeated recurrence.
The conscious mind is our awareness of any moment. We are aware of something outside of us, as well as some specific mental functions happening inside us. As the word suggests, we need to pay attention to activate the conscious mind.
- Focus on what the teacher is sharing to gather knowledge.
- Control the desire to talk or say something.
- Behave in a particular manner in a social setting.
- Park your car
- File my tax form
- Prepare a PowerPoint presentation
- Engage in a debate or argument.
The challenge in invoking the conscious mind is that it requires oodles of focus and attention, and if you are distracted, you will not act effectively. Paradoxically, when our conscious mind gets into a thinking mode, consciously or unconsciously, awareness of what is happening around gets impaired, and the subconscious mind takes over. Most of the time, the conscious mind may not even be aware of this hijack by the mental chatter.
The conscious mind is the seat of all our desires, wishes, aspirations. The core function of the conscious mind is to gather knowledge, gain insights, and complete activities that require focus and attention.
We have access to a limited attention or focus span. It is impossible to run our lives in a full conscious mode, all the time. A powerful subconscious mind is a tool that allows us to manage much of our life experience on an autopilot. For everything that is happening around us, we don’t have to be consciously aware. The subconscious is there to handle this automatically, so the conscious mind is not overwhelmed by the vast information processing required to function in our complex reality.
I used to think that the hero of our life was the conscious faculty because it is the faculty that will help me live my best life. I was wrong.
After reading many books on this subject, it is clear to me know that 85%-90% of our life runs on autopilot. We manage to operate consciously only for about 10%-15% of the time. Our subconscious programming has a more significant impact on how we lead our life than whatever we can do consciously.
If my conscious actions align with my subconscious, life moves more effortlessly; else, there is stress.
Imagine that my subconscious build-up has seen a lot of scarcity and unfulfilled desires, as an adult, even if my conscious desire is for abundance, there is a misalignment.
The secret to a good life is in fixing some of the bugs embedded in the subconscious as faulty beliefs and mental models.
Getting to know yourself is about identifying all your limiting beliefs that are not evident to your conscious mind. They come out only when others point them out to you or when you look inward, consciously. The more you shine a spotlight on your subconscious build-up and all the faulty mental models, the more you can recognize how they are sabotaging your personal growth. Your conscious mind desires something, but your actions driven by your subconscious do the opposite.
How do we address this dichotomy between my subconscious and conscious minds ? I’ll discuss this in a follow-up post tomorrow.