Understanding the Unconscious Mind

Explore some of the unconscious mind’s fascinating characteristics and discover how using hypnotherapy we can help by understanding the unconscious mind.

What is the Unconscious Mind?

Understanding the unconscious mind 1When talking about the conscious and unconscious minds we often use the iceberg analogy. The tip above the water surface is your conscious mind. The current consensus is that our conscious mind probably accounts for 5 to 10% of our mind’s capacity.

Our unconscious mind, sometimes called the subconscious, is the rest of the iceberg. The part beneath the waterline. It is everything we are not actively aware of in that moment. Unlike our conscious minds it has a vast capacity. Holding our memories, experience, and knowledge in a huge treasure chest.

Your unconscious mind is also busy running your body for you whilst you get on with everyday life. Imagine if you had to consciously remember to breathe, for your heart to beat or to decide when to release particular hormones. And if your conscious mind was full of every experience you have every had. You could not function.

Busy 24/7 in the background your unconscious mind keeps your show on the road. It also acts as the database or archive of your life. By definition we will probably never understand the unconscious mind in its entirety. But what we do know and discover enables us to find ways to work with it in hypnotherapy.

Characteristics of the Unconscious Mind

This is a huge and fascinating topic. Here we are looking at some of the key characteristics in understanding the unconscious mind. Those that are particularly relevant to how we can help people with hypnotherapy.

  • Understanding the unconscious mind 2Its capacity is vast, far outstripping that of our conscious minds. Even if you have a good head for information our conscious minds can reach a place of overload.
  • Timeframes are different in the unconscious mind. Past, present and future can all be experienced as real and in the Now.
  • Imagined experiences can feel as powerful as real ones. If you remember your dreams, created by your unconscious mind, you have first hand knowledge of how real they can feel. Whether they are quite ordinary in content or so fantastically strange that your conscious mind would discount them, they feel real. Your body may even have responses to it as if it was real as you wake with your heart pounding in a nervous sweat from a nightmare.
  • The language of the unconscious mind is not as informational and word based as your conscious mind. Feelings, stories, imagery, and metaphors are powerful.
  • It is fluid, intuitive and creative.
  • The unconscious mind is able to hold multiple possibilities and pieces of information simultaneously.
  • It can be the powerhouse behind staying stuck or creating change.

Using Hypnotherapy to Access the Unconscious Mind

Hypnotherapy offers us a way to quieten the conscious mind’s chatter. We become more able to access our unconscious mind. Shifting our attention to our inner world. It feels like day dreaming. The role of the hypnotherapist is to guide the process to support you in making the connections you need to.

Our brainwave patterns change during hypnotherapy. There can be many physiological benefits from the deeper sense of calm it can bring. We may also experience a reduction in pain levels, better memory recall and being more able to cope with stress. We are more open to suggestion in this state and can use the process to update and renew.

 Using Hypnotherapy to Work with the Unconscious Mind

Understanding the unconscious mind allows us to use approaches that work more effectively.

The Unconscious Mind’s Timeframes

For example, we can use the unconscious mind’s more fluid timeframes to work with old experiences. Particularly those that may have been difficult or left us with an unhelpful framework. We can visit the younger self and give them the gift of hindsight ahead of time. Knowing perhaps that the way a person treated us was not our fault, but their struggle in dealing with a situation. Or that we would survive and live to have all sorts of wonderful experiences. To see beyond and past a challenging time.

Understanding the unconscious mind 4We can also visit our future and create a framework for positive experiences and reactions we would like to have. We know that focusing on things and bringing in all of our senses makes them more real in our minds. We create neural pathways and associations for a positive outcome. If this sounds odd to you, just think how many people are brilliant at doing this in reverse. Creating a disaster scenario in their minds and experiencing the anxiety as if something awful was actual happening in the here and now.

You can use this capacity for mental time travel to feel happy and confident or anxious and afraid. Hypnotherapy gives you a positive framework to run the version you would like to happen! If this intrigues you, you can read more about Hypnotherapy and NLP Timeline Techniques.

The Language of the Unconscious Mind

Part of understanding the unconscious mind is to realise that it speaks a different language to our conscious mind. Just consciously commanding ourselves to only eat one biscuit from a new packet does not always work. The words might vanish as fast as the biscuits!

If you want to bring in the big guns of your unconscious mind, you need to speak its language. One way is to create powerful images and stories around the benefits of being able to choose to have one biscuit. Feeling healthy, a size that you like to be, and doing the things you want to do. Focusing on and reinforcing what you do want, and in the longer run rather than that fleeting moment of temptation. You can find out more about this by listening to my Help Breaking Habits Interview on BBC Radio Sussex.

The Unconscious Mind – A Reservoir of Resources

Pioneer and eminent hypnotherapist Milton Erikson understood the positive potential of connecting with our unconscious. And the value of the hypnotherapist tailoring the approach to meet the needs and situation of the patient. From working with difficult issues to increasing our capacity for focus or creativity, hypnotherapy offers us ways of connecting with this reservoir. Giving us all more opportunities and flexibility to update old patterns, resolve issues and move forwards.

Understanding the Unconscious Mind and Why it is Good to Update!

Understanding the unconscious mind 5Your unconscious mind’s aim is to keep you safe and well. Its programmes created by your early life. It functions day and night running on all the data stored over our lifetime. This overall operating manual evolves and from deep within we are primed to run according to these unconscious patterns.

These patterns of thinking and behaving are played out in our everyday lives. Some of these patterns will be helpful and some won’t. In hypnotherapy, we are exploring and updating these patterns where it would be helpful. Working with them at the unconscious level and bringing more into the conscious realm. This can give us more choice about how we feel, think and behave. Updating our operating manuals and moving forwards in our lives.

I hope you have found this post Understanding the Unconscious Mind to be of interest. My practice clinics are in West and East Sussex. Where appropriate, I also work via Skype. If you are curious about how Hypnotherapy or NLP might be able to help you please do contact me.