We have a conscious mind which contains the thoughts of which we’re aware.
We have an unconscious mind which contains all thoughts of which we are not consciously aware.
The conscious mind is like the tip of an iceberg — the part we see. The unconscious is the majority of the iceberg — the part we don’t see. And so it is with the mind. Here is how the mind divides up the responsibilities…
The Conscious Mind
- responsible for logical, linear thinking
- has us pay attention to about 7 things at any one time (usually the things with the highest emotional content)
- acts as a gatekeeper, largely keeping out any ideas or suggestions that disagree with existing programming
- emotional and symbolic
- stores our beliefs, morals and habits
- tends to embrace the suggestions and ideas that get through to it
- runs the body, including automatic and semi-automatic processes (like breathing)
Generally, This System Works
In large part, this system works pretty well. When we’re young and our conscious mind is not so protective, we are “programmed” by the older, more experienced people around us. We learn about the world, develop beliefs and habits, a moral structure etc.
As our conscious, logical mind develops, we are less likely to believe anything somebody tells us. We begin to think for ourselves. We become more set in our ways. It can become more difficult to change.
It Can Make Change Difficult
This is not all bad. It helps us to not believe every new piece of information that comes down the pipeline. If you tell a 3 year-old that next Tuesday, all pigs will be able to fly because it’s pig flying day, they’ll probably believe you. Tell that to an adult, they probably won’t.
But what if you’ve been programmed in a way you don’t like? Maybe in your childhood, adults around you had some ways of interacting that you’ve picked up and you don’t like it. Maybe you’ve been programmed to feel fear when speaking in public and it needs to change. Maybe you’ve picked up a bad habit. Maybe there was a significant emotional experience in your life that created beliefs that you recognize are not healthy.
The Gatekeeper Can Stop Change
Well, you’ve got this conscious gatekeeper that may be keeping you from changing existing ideas, beliefs and patterns.
So, what about when people want to change and their existing beliefs and habits make it difficult. That person will resist the very ideas and suggestions that can help them because those ideas and suggestions conflict with their existing programming.
Well, there are still ways to get new programming in! Hypnosis/NLP, constant repetition of an idea, highly emotional situations, authority, altered states of mind…
…And Something Called Hypnotic Language
Hypnosis is a way to get the conscious mind to take a break so we can help a person get new programming directly into their unconscious mind. Hypnotic language (sometimes called conversational hypnosis) is a way to do something similar, conversationally. In other words, you can do much of what you do with hypnosis, in a conversation! If you’re a people-helper — a hypnotherapist, a counselor, a public speaker, a coach, a boss, an employee…
…scratch that. If you’re a person who talks or writes and wants to be able to influence people, hypnotic language is a nice tool to have in your toolbox. When I do sessions, as soon as I know what the client wants, I start using all of the tools at my disposal to help them get it. That includes helping them deconstruct belief systems that are getting in their way. Here are a couple of examples…
- A woman who wants to have a lasting, fulfilling relationship, but believes all men are evil.
- A smoker who thinks stopping smoking is impossible.
- A nail-biter who wants to stop but has unconsciously connected biting her nails with a feeling of comfort.
These are examples of folks that could use some new unconscious programming. Yet, because of the way the mind works, they will likely ‘resist’ any effort to change those patterns. Any effort they can detect consciously, that is. That’s where conversational hypnosis can help.