If you’ve ever said you’re of two minds about something, you were right. The mind that had that idea was your self-conscious mind, the seat of cognitive thinking, personal identity, and free will. It is the part of the mind that proclaims wants, desires, and intentions, and consequently the part that makes God laugh. The joke is that that part of the mind imagines who we think we are, but it controls only 5 percent or less of our lives.
The data reveals what those of us who tried positive thinking but got negative results sadly came to realize that our lives are not controlled by our conscious wishes or intentions. If you disbelieve, do the math. Our subconscious is running the show 95 percent of the time. Therefore our fate is actually under the control of recorded programs, or habits that have been derived from instincts and the perceptions acquired in our life experiences.
The most powerful and influential programs in the subconscious mind are the ones that were recorded first. During the extremely important formative period between gestation and six years of age, our fundamental life-shaping programs were acquired by observing and listening to our primary teachers—our parents, siblings, and local community. Unfortunately, as psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors are keenly aware, much of what we learned was based on misperceptions that are now expressed as limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs.
Most parents don’t realize their words and actions are continuously recorded by their child’s subconscious mind, which compiles a literal imprint of early life experiences. When a young child is frequently scolded as being bad, the child does not comprehend the nuance that this is a temporary condition associated with a recent deed. Instead, their young mind registers this declaration as a permanent condition that defines who they are. The same is true with transmitted beliefs, spoken or unspoken, that a child is undeserving, not good enough or smart enough, or that they are sickly or weak.
These unwitting parental pronouncements directly download into the child’s subconscious. Because the role of the mind is to create coherence between its programs and real life, the brain unconsciously generates appropriate (or inappropriate) behavioral responses that assure the truth of its programmed perceptions. Once acquired, subconscious programs automatically manifest their perceptions as false realities that shape an individual’s life.
Let’s apply this to an unfortunate real-life experience. Imagine you are a five-year-old child throwing a tantrum in the mall because you want a certain toy. To silence your outburst in a public place, your father—upset himself—blurts out something his parents said to him when he threw a tantrum: “You don’t deserve it!” Fast-forward 20 or 30 years, and now you are an adult on the threshold of a new job that will offer fantastic financial reward. You’ve been entertaining wonderful thoughts about your future prospects. Then all of a sudden, glitches and setbacks arise. The road to wealth that once seemed clear now seems blocked. You know you have the ability to succeed, but all of a sudden things go wrong, your new behavior becomes erratic and unprofessional—and your prospective employer notices as well.
“What’s happening?” you ask. The problem is that your subconscious mind’s programs are conflicting with your conscious mind’s desire. While your self-conscious mind is positive and hopeful about the opportunities, the recorded message from your dad, “You don’t deserve it!” is subversively programming your subconscious mind’s behavior. As with the hypnotized individual trying to lift a glass of water that weighs a misperceived one thousand pounds, your subconscious mind is dutifully engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors to assure your reality matches your program—and chances are you don’t even know this is happening.
Why? Because the automated programs are running the show while your conscious mind is preoccupied with other thoughts, such as how you are going to spend the extra salary. Consequently, when the self-conscious mind is engaged, it usually does not observe the automatic behaviors being generated by the subconscious mind. And because subconscious programs encompass 95 percent of what we do, most of our own behavior is invisible to us!
The database of perceptions and beliefs programmed in our minds is a primary factor in shaping our lives. The good news is that we actually wield power over the contents of that database. Becoming conscious of our subconscious beliefs and programming is the gateway to spontaneous evolution.
Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.