So, I spend a lot of time reading about how it’s so great that humans have the ability to consciously direct their minds to think what they want to think, and consciously choose to do what they want to do.
That may sound dumb and basic to you, and I thought that way too before I realized that 99.9 percent of the population lives their life in “reactive” mode, essentially letting life and of its events control them.
What a cool super power we have, compared to every other living thing on Earth that simply exists to react to danger, merely to survive and reproduce.
When a parent or a teacher says to a little kid, “you can be whatever you want when you grow up,” they’re one hundred perfect correct, because when it comes straight down to it, the only thing that really limits anybody is their own mindset — not necessarily the outside world and all the things spinning around them.
That’s why we hear all these phenomenally inspiring stories about people who’ve managed to overcome such unbelievable struggle before the achieved huge successes — people who experienced failure after failure and faced obstacle after obstacle for years and years and years — and people who had to work fifty times harder than the average person due to the circumstances they’re faced with (poverty, abuse, discrimination, disease, disability, etc.).
It’s pretty neat to hear about high school dropouts running some of the largest companies in the world, or to watch Paralympic athletes win gold medals and perform way better than any average, abled person.
For the rest of us, who maybe didn’t come from a broken home or didn’t live through a major catastrophe or didn’t really experience any real massive life struggle at all, it kind of makes you wonder…
What do I really have to show for myself?
Why haven’t I been able to achieve all the amazing things I want in my life yet?
It’s not like anything huge has been stopping me!
Maybe you can partly admit to being a bit lazy with choosing to consciously direct your mind so that you’re actively pursuing the things you want to achieve in life.
Story of my life pretty much for 28 years.
I’ve gotten much better at it over this past year, thanks to all the resources I’ve used to help me and the habits I’ve been able to build and maintain, but you know what?
I need to say it…
Sometimes, conscious choice simply isn’t enough to go for that goal, or do that thing, or change your life — even when you already know how bad you want it.
If our entire lives could be driven only by the conscious choices we decide to make to design our lives, there’d be a heck of a lot less messed up people in this world.
For some people, simply making the decision to say, “I’m going to do the thing” and then actually doing it is really all it takes to finally go ahead and start the journey toward the goal, but for others, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
I mean, aside from clinical mental illness and personality disorders, I think it’s pretty obvious that most people simply know that they have certain quirks and traits and thought processes that just kind of make it really hard to do the awesome things they’ve always dreamed of doing — even though they’re well aware that they desperately want to do them.
Why can’t some people just take the leap?
Why do some people struggle so badly to do the things they really want to do?
Have you ever found yourself in that position?
I sure have.
Before you go ahead and Google the nearest therapist in your local area, I think it’s important first to learn a bit more about how your mind really works.
If you’ve ever stopped and looked at your life, only to ask yourself, “why am I so messed up?” then you’re going to want to keep reading — because the answers may lie in your subconscious mind.
First, know this:
Being unable to to take the leap or make the move or create a change in your life doesn’t mean you’re a huge loser who’s destined to never make any real progress.
More likely than anything else, you’re battling your subconscious mind without even knowing it, and you’re being defeated by it.
There are underlying reasons and beliefs buried deep in your mind that are preventing you from doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Imagine your mind is an iceberg.
The part of the iceberg that sits above the surface of the water is your conscious mind — your state of awareness and your ability to control the way you go about your life and choose to experience things.
On the other end, that huge part of the iceberg that sits underwater and remains hidden beneath the surface is your subconscious mind — the “unaware” part of your mind that automatically influences your decisions because of certain beliefs you have about the world around you that are stored there, which you developed early on in life as you grew up and started understanding things from what your parents taught you, what society says is right, how you experienced school and friendships as a kid, and so on.
As soon as you’re born, your subconscious starts taking in messages from how you perceive the world around you and tries to make sense of those messages, storing decided beliefs deep inside that essentially shape you later in life as a person.
That explains why there are so many messed up people in this world.
There are millions of people who had less than satisfying childhoods, many of whom went through traumatic events, and thus grew up to hold certain beliefs that may be considered illogical, ridiculous, or completely wrong.
I’ll share at least one of my own subconscious beliefs as examples to demonstrate just how much they can potentially hinder anyone to make progress in life.
My own example is pretty typical and relatable to anyone, male or female — and it involves an intense belief that I must be thin in order to be considered beautiful, attractive, and worth something.
It’s ridiculous, because I already view other women of all shapes and sizes with different looks and styles as truly beautiful and attractive — I honestly do — but for some reason, for me and myself only — I have to be thin, or else I’m nothing.
What the heck kind of messed up belief is this kind of crap?
I’ll tell you what it is — it’s my subconscious mind bringing up the beliefs that my brain interpreted long ago when it took in messages about how people had the tendency to value their physical appearances.
It stems from all sorts of things I’ve been exposed to and experiences I’ve had when I was younger, from all the times my mom would fat shame herself in front of me and the stern lectures she gave me about weight gain when she noticed me overeating, to all the teen magazines I used to buy with their gorgeously flawless models on every page and boy/girl bands I used to obsess over with their hot bods and sexy dance moves in the late 90s.
To sum it up, I developed strong beliefs that if I was going to be fat or overweight, I was also going to be uncool, undesirable, lazy, unworthy of being looked at, and unsuccessful in life.
The funny thing about your subconscious mind is that it’s not really all that hard to become aware of how some of the beliefs you have really aren’t true at all, but that doesn’t matter — it’s damn hard to change them when they’ve followed you around through life in the back of your mind since as long as you can remember.
As a result, I’ve dieted and over exercised myself to the point of screwing up my hormones and giving myself adrenal fatigue, I let my sense of self worth be tied to my body fat percentage, I whined to ex-boyfriends about it and I endlessly compared myself to other women.
I’ve been able to shift most of my awful beliefs and habits about myself over years of learning from my mistakes and self-therapy through writing and reading, but I know those deeply-rooted beliefs are still kind of there, stashed away in a brainy time capsule somewhere in the back of my mind.
I’m no therapist or psychiatrist or neuro-magician, but I’m sure that in many cases, there’s probably a fine line between what could be considered a false subconscious belief that causes some inconveniences through life and an actual mental disorder that’s more detrimental.
I’m not saying that I had or have a mental disorder, nor am I suggesting that you might have one either — neither one of us would ever know that until being diagnosed by a professional (and I’ve never been diagnosed, actually).
But anyway, I want to lighten the mood in this blog post now that I’ve opened myself up with that very personal story and also mentioned the term “mental disorder” twice already.
It’s not your fault that you get pulled underwater by the subconscious iceberg — but it is your fault if you choose to ignore that it’s happening and decide to just accept things the way they are.
You know the drill — “it is the way it is.”
You say it to yourself when you just don’t want to deal with your own shit, because it’s just always so much easier to talk yourself into believing that’s just the way you are and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Somewhere inside of you though, you have to know it’s simply not true.
There are all sorts of twisted beliefs lying dormant in people’s subconscious minds, manifesting only when triggered and tricking them into believing things that aren’t true so they’re always held back from what they really want to do with their lives.
The first step in taking control of your mind and your life is recognizing that some of those debilitating beliefs you have are actually wrong.
Conscious desire: You really want to travel and see the world.
Subconscious belief: Traveling at your age is selfish and immature.
Result: A boring, adventureless life.
Conscious desire: You’d love nothing more than to find your soulmate.
Subconscious belief: Getting close to people ends in disappointment and heartbreak.
Result: Forever alone.
Conscious desire: You want to switch careers and be a stand-up comedian.
Subconscious belief: A career in the arts would dishonour your family values.
Result: A cozy yet unfulfilling day job.
Your subconscious mind tells you these beliefs are right, but you conscious mind tells you they’re wrong.
So how the heck do you go about fixing it and changing the balance of power?
I’m going to have to get back to you on that, because I’m still trying to figure it out for myself.
I think it has a lot to do with strengthening your conscious mind through lots of mindful practice, maintaining an extremely open-minded view of seeing things as right versus wrong, and overall just taking more risks that expose you to things that scare you.
With enough consistent effort and practice, challenging your beliefs by taking small actions that prove them to be wrong and prove your conscious beliefs to be right will help you break them.
More on this in a future blog post.
For now, pay more attention to those subtle beliefs that pop up in your mind from time time and end up limiting your potential.
Write them down if you have to, and just be aware that they’re there.
Higher awareness of your desire and decision to want to change yourself, in my experience, is truly half the battle.
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- The divided self: Why we care way too much about what other people think - August 14, 2016
- What everyone gets wrong about “being authentic” - July 3, 2016
- 7 eye-opening ways to forget about your goals so you can let happiness flow - June 20, 2016
- Why you won’t do all the things you want to do this summer - June 13, 2016
- 50 everyday things you can give up to make time for more important stuff - April 30, 2016
- How to go from waking up miserable to exhilarated every morning - April 18, 2016
- How to align your mind to get exactly what you want - April 3, 2016
- Why we’re so bad at sticking to good habits (and what to do about it) - March 19, 2016
- 6 useful tips for dealing with an all-around bad day - June 30, 2015