Beware, it's your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind makes every decision in your life. This is appropriate and automatic ninety-nine percent of the time for walking, talking, and driving your car, but beware of the other one percent. All behavioral decisions like healthy eating, social interaction, and continuing bad habits are made in your subconscious mind.
What is your subconscious mind? It includes the thoughts and feelings below the level of awareness and is nearly unlimited in size.
In the clock-face study, people were asked to raise their hand randomly while looking at a clock. The researchers knew when they were going to raise their hand 300 milliseconds before the person knew. In the portrait study, people were asked to push a button in their right hand if a portrait of a person had a friendly expression and the left hand button if the portrait appeared sinister. The researchers knew several seconds before the person knew which button was going to be pushed. What’s going on? The subconscious mind makes the decision and sends the message to the conscious mind. We assume that we decide to do something, but these studies show the subconscious mind makes all decisions.
The implications may seem minor at first, but they can be life-changing. We need to align our conscious decisions with our subconscious decisions for greater success. This is accomplished by learning how to communicate with the subconscious. This is a primitive crocodile brain that responds to conditioning; emotions; images, sounds, smells, taste and touch; and subconscious reflex triggers.
Your subconscious mind sabotages your thinking. You tell yourself no dessert at today’s luncheon meeting. But, you say yes to the dessert menu and have a sugary dessert all the while saying to yourself you’re not having any. Worse yet, you’re angry with yourself causing dangerous levels of stress toxins. Your subconscious mind made this decision as it has been doing since childhood through conditioning. Instead, use this to your advantage through positive reinforcement. Eat a bowl of plain organic oatmeal. This is a different taste than you’re used to, and it’s like eating paste. However, not in your subconscious brain, here the feeling of hunger has been satisfied which sends a surge of dopamine to the nucleus accumbens pleasure center giving the brain a positive feeling, which in turn sends a pleasant feedback loop to the subcortical striatum part of the brain. Try the oatmeal again, and add blueberries, your subconscious will register this as another pleasant experience. Repeat this several times, and you will develop a craving for this healthy food with the extra benefit of the anti-inflammatory effects of the blueberries.
Sales and persuasion techniques have been based on subconscious decision making for thousands of years. Sell to the subconscious through emotions, images, sounds, and touch. The puppy dog close: send the puppy home for the night with no obligation. Yet, the dark side of the subconscious explains why brainwashing through negative conditioning is so effective. Associate a person or a group of people with negative images over and over through television and the web, soon people will automatically view that person or group as evil. How do you know when your opinion is based on conditioning or your own thinking? For example, if you have an opinion that vaccines cause autism, this is a conditioned response. This opinion is based on a single fraudulent report in a 1998 prestigious medical journal that was quickly “retracted” after investigation showed the author admitted falsifying the data. Vaccines do not cause autism. If your opinion is based on one person’s opinion or a single superficial statement, it’s likely a conditioned response. Do primary source research, and your decision will be your own.
Unconscious mind reflexes are the same as physical reflexes such as tapping the knee tendon. Learn what they are and use them in a positive way. Smile, your subconscious makes you feel better. Stand straight with open arms for strength, and slouch with folded arms for weakness. Head up is strong, head down is weak. Give a gift for increased sales. Give an after dinner mint for increased tips. This is the reciprocity reflex. Your sub-conscious mind has been conditioned to reciprocate. Scarcity of an item is similar, you will buy something if there are only three remaining because your subconscious fears loss. Consider physical activity at work as exercise and gain the benefit. Single-word reflexes are from mirror neurons. You smile and the person smiles back. The other person has a frown, you frown back along with the feeling of anger. Use “because” for a request will result in more yes responses. Rolling your eyes during a discussion causes the anger reflex by activating the amygdala anger center. Make a small request, return later and someone is more likely to accept a large request because the subconscious prefers consistency, or the opposite, make a huge request and immediately offer a small request.
Call to action. Learn the functional principles of the subconscious mind to know when it’s used against you, and learn to align your conscious thinking with your subconscious for a sustainable less stressful and more successful life.
Gary R. Epler, M.D. in Boston