So what is the subconscious? At the most basic level, it is the area of the mind that stores all beliefs and memories.
These beliefs are created as a result of experiences we have as well as upbringing, education, friends and family influences, culture and religion.
These beliefs then affect the way we think and the way we behave. For example, if we have been told by a parent whilst growing up that we are useless then it is possible that we will have a core belief that we are not good enough. We may then look for evidence that this is the case. We may tell ourselves that we are useless (thoughts) and then avoid positive situations or damage relationships (behaviour) because of those beliefs.
Confirmation bias means that we filter experiences to confirm these core beliefs so they remain unchanged unless we make an effort to change them – with hypnotherapy or CBT – or ideally a combination of both! This applies whether it is the thoughts that are causing issues (eg anxiety) or the behaviours (eg smoking, over eating, avoiding things because of phobias).
The subconscious also stores habits and learned behaviours. For example, when we are learning to drive we need to do everything very consciously but when we are experienced it becomes a subconscious process, like breathing, walking and talking.
This process can be helpful or it can be unhelpful. It can become an unconscious habit to always be anxious in certain situations, for example, because it has become a learned behaviour and therefore automatic.
Hypnotherapy, and particularly cognitive hypnotherapy, can help in a number of ways. Firstly, being able to address those beliefs and the events that caused them whilst in a relaxed state can make them easier to deal with and can provide closure.
Secondly, addressing the subconscious beliefs and habits whilst in a relaxed state can be easier as the conscious, critical and analytical part of the mind is switched off. This is particularly useful when using a cognitive behavioural approach to hypnotherapy as alternative thoughts can be introduced and will be more acceptable to the subconscious. [Please note: they will have been devised prior to this stage to ensure they are in line with the client’s goals and desired beliefs].
” The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”William James, American Psychologist
There is also more to this with regards to learned behaviour. That is the subject of an upcoming post where I compare clients to dogs …. (and anyone who knows me knows that this certainly is not an insult!!!)