The unconscious mind is very similar to the subconscious mind in that it also deals with memories. But there is a difference between the two.
If you remember the symbol of the triangle I used to describe the levels of the human mind (if not, have a quick read of it now here), then you’ll remember that the unconscious sits a layer deeper in the mind under the subconscious. Although the subconscious and unconscious have direct links to each other and deal with similar things, the unconscious mind is really the cellar, the underground library if you like, of all your memories, habits, and behaviors. It is the storehouse of all your deep seated emotions that have been programmed since birth.
If you want significant change at a core level, then this is the place to work on … but it’s not easy to get to!
Unconscious versus Subconscious – What’s the difference?
There’s been plenty of debate over what is the correct term – subconscious or unconscious.
Unconscious is the term usually preferred by Psychologists and Psychiatrists to refer to the thoughts we have that are “out of reach” of our consciousness. It shouldn’t be confused with the medical term for unconscious, which basically means knocked out or anesthetized, although both definitions do have similar qualities.
In simple terms, the unconscious is the storage place for all our memories that have been repressed or which we don’t wish to recall. A traumatic event in our childhood that has been blocked out is an example, but it doesn’t have to be so serious as this. It could be something very distant like what you had for lunch on your first day of school or what the name was of the childhood friend you played with a couple of times.
It’s a memory that we can’t pull out at our choosing. It’s there, but we can’t remember it no matter how hard we try. Certain psychoanalytical methods can bring back these memories (such as hypnosis) or it can be triggered by a particular event (a scent, a familiar place etc).
The important point to remember here, is that we cannot, by choice, remember anything in our unconscious without some special event or technique. This is the unconscious.
The subconscious, on the other hand, is almost the same, but the major difference is we can choose to remember. The memories are closer to the surface and more easily accessible with a little focus.
For example, if I were to ask you to remember what your phone number is, then you could easily bring that into conscious thought. The interesting thing is that before I asked you to recall it, you had no conscious thought of it at all. It was stored in your subconscious available for ready recall when needed, a bit like RAM in a computer because it’s something that you require quite regularly to remember.
If, however, it wasn’t important to you to recall your phone number that often then it may be stored a bit deeper, and as a result when you’re asked for your phone number on the spot you might struggle to remember it.
The Role of the Unconscious
In many respects the unconscious deals with all the same tasks as the subconscious – memory, habits, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. The difference between the two minds, however, is that the unconscious is the source of all these programs that your subconscious uses
It is the place where all your memories and experiences since birth have been stored. Its from these memories that your beliefs, habits, and behaviors are formed and reinforced over time.
How to Change Your Life
If you want to affect change in your life at a core level then you will have to work on your programs that are held in the unconscious mind. There are specialized ways to make that happen, and if you’ve read the entire series of these articles then you’ll know that the place to start doing that is in the conscious mind.
By continuously being in charge of your own thoughts through directing your focus and using visualization, you can influence what programs the subconscious mind constantly runs. Do this often enough (and with enough emotional energy) then it will start to reprogram your unconscious internal representation and belief system.
And when that happens you’ll experience change on a very deep level!
It’s very much a top down approach. After all, it’s how your habits, behaviors and beliefs were created in the first place. Give it a try and see how you go and remember … enjoy the journey!