What is subconscious programming, and what power does it have on our lives? This is self-mastery 101. You simply need to master this to experience fulfillment.
Think of you and your life as a block of marble ready to be sculpted as you please. If you have yet to take responsibility for your subconscious, you likely sculpt this marble with all the grace of a deranged drunk.
Your beautiful, untouched block has degenerated into an eyesore. It’s time to take control of this powerful animal such that we sculpt with the majesty of Da Vinci, using our creative powers to forge a beautiful statue. We do this by understanding the subconscious mind and getting it on our side.
But before we look at subconscious artistry, let’s cover what the subconscious mind is.
Why Is Subconscious Programming Important?
Let’s get sober about why the subconscious mind is so infuential and vital.
The Human lives you; You Don’t Live It
As you read this sentence, you are at the helm of the most complex biological phenomenon yet discovered, as though you were in a 20D first-person shooter.
But most of our actions are not conscious and willful: they’re part of automatic subconscious programming. This is positive, because we couldn’t possibly do everything deliberately. We’d become overwhelmed, and fast.
The downside is that functions we’d do well to oversee and optimise have gone unconscious, especially if they’re detrimental to our wellbeing. This cornucopia of automatic subconscious programming turns us into uncreative robots who have forgotten the magic of being human.
Our Shadow Haunts Us
Repressed drives and desires appear in our behaviour constantly, but we don’t realise it. Rewriting our subconscious programming helps clean up that material. And dragging that material up for analysis is a key practice for becoming a wholler, more integrated human being.
The Subconscious Mind Is Impersonal
To reiterate, the subconscious mind is impersonal. It doesn’t sort through the inputs it receives, tossing out the harmful and absorbing the fruitful. No – it soaks up everything, including your own thoughts, and then begins to act on all its content, changing your behaviour.
That’s right, you’re already moulding your subconscious mind. You don’t have to do anything special to influence it – you’ve been successfully tinkering with it for decades! The issue is you’ve likely been doing this in zombie mode, and that needs to change.
It Creates As Deftly As It Destroys
Gail Marra puts this beautifully. She says the subconscious can both create and destroy! Whether it wreaks havoc or forges beauty depends on the material it receives. Real self-transformation occurs when we permanently alter our functioning. If we write new, higher-level mental schemes, over time we can experience remarkable transformation. By re-writing our subconscious content over time, we forge a new self and write a new story.
You Are Not You
On the level of identity, we are not who we think we are. First, our conscious experience of self is an operating system, a control panel in this 20D video game. Most of us are lost in the control panel.
Second, many of our automatic processes – down to the kernel of our identity as a human – have slipped into the unconscious. As we grow from babies to adults, these complex first-person programmes become habituated.
It’s a good thing that they do, but it means we live in a daze, mesmerised by our conscious experience, which in some sense is a fiction built upon layers and layers of unconscious material.
Subconscious Programming: The Missile
The type of goals and destinies we programme into the subconscious are critical. We correctly harness its capabilities by choosing a goal, no matter how apparently realistic or attainable it may seem, burning it into our minds, and then disengaging, allowing these wondrous subconscious mechanisms to take the lead.
This doesn’t need to be a materialistic goal. It can simply be the type of person we want to be, ways we desire to improve and grow, behaviours we wish to eliminate, and so on. Anything goes, as long as it’s related to that beautiful statue we wish to sculpt.
Once programmed, the subconscious doesn’t detach from us and float off into the wilderness like an abandoned space probe, aloof from our earthly actions. Hill reiterates the point that while the goal-seeking mechanism of the subconscious works in the background, it also sends up messages to our conscious mind in the form of plans, ideas and insights related to our goal.
That’s why we don’t have to worry about the how-to as we crystallise our initial target. The clarity of our goal stirs that “wellspring of creativity” within us – as Bob Dylan put it. The problem-solving process is spontaneous and involuntary, and the conscious mind’s role is to create the target and hold it in the form of visions and images. Without a target, the missile remains in purgatory and buzzes numbly in random directions, driven only by vague, half-hearted desires.
Strange and imponderable is the power of the human mind. We do not understand the method by which it uses every circumstance, every individual, every physical thing within its reach, as a means of transmuting desire into its physical counterpart.Napoleon Hill
To further fuel the mystery of the subconscious, Napoleon Hill claimed that it’s the intermediary between humans and the infinite intelligence governing the entire universe. Just ponder that for a moment.
Powerful Exercises For Subconscious Programming
By now, you see that when it comes to your life, you’re in charge of carving a fresh block of marble. Your tools are your mental habits and beliefs. Use them skillfully, and you craft a beautiful sculpture; use them wildly, and you ruin the marble, perhaps beyond redemption.
You’ve been unknowingly doing subconscious programming since day one. So have those around you and your surround. Your current self is the sum total of all your actions, behaviour and mental activity you’ve experienced across your lifetime. So you’re going to do subconscious programming it no matter what – now is when you take charge and do it with purpose and intent.
So the question is: Who do you want to be? What do you want to sculpt? You have the power to decide your future self and start perfecting your mind and actions to begin the forging process.
And what are the concrete daily habits we can establish to get that goal-seeking mechanism on our side? Let’s start with the most fundamental of the lot.
Napoleon Hill’s Six-step Process
Be aware that if you are a poor sculpter, you’re likely using your mental tools to run these steps already, with things you don’t desire as your objective. It’s time to turn that around.
Here’s Hill’s six-step process:
1) Define the goal: Hill’s book covers financial success, meaning his goals are always money related, but this process works for any goal. What do you want? Who do you want to be? Get clear about this.
2) Decide steps for making it happen: don’t be wishy-washy here. What’s required for the achievement of this goal? Define the how-to, but don’t worry about the how-to. Trust in the goal-seeking mechanism.
3) Date: set a date for achieving your goal. This isn’t an exact science, but remember this: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
4) Definite plan: create a plan for what you’ll do to achieve the goal, including the steps you identified earlier.
5) Clear, concise statement: write a short paragraph detailing the goal, the date you’ll achieve it by, and your plan for reaching it.
6) Read statement aloud twice per day for 60 days. This is the trickiest part. It’s deceptive – you think it’s easy to recite a short paragraph once per day for 60 days, but after a few days the difficulty of it will dawn on you. Here’s the key to being successful with this habit: identify the date 60 days from now and mark it on your calendar. Then create a tally next to your statement until you reach 60 days in a row.
And if you want to be ultra-sure of achieving your goal, do it for 90 days.
Edison… placed his stamp of approval on [the six steps] as being… necessary for the achievement of any definite goal.Napoleon Hill
This six-step process is decpetive. It seems too easy, too good to be true. And for the first week or two, you won’t see any results. After a few weeks, though, you’ll notice a shift. The goal is now seared into your mind, and it’ll seem obvious that it’s what you need to pursue. The steps towards it will come to life, and you’ll find yourself implementing them. Your fears and doubts will be soothed, and your identity will slowly change, merging with the goal itself.
Create Clear Targets
Have you wandered through life with vague visions and half-baked desires, leading to half-hearted action and mediocre results?
We’ve all had periods like that. But now you know that this is because you’ve lacked clarity over your desires. It’s because your goals haven’t been clear and compelling and you haven’t been persistent in your pursuit of them.
To truly harness the power of your subconscious mind, you need a clear and concrete vision. Not 10 blurry, pretend desires, but one vision, one ideal outcome that inspires you.
Programme your mind with a crystal-clear end target and you’ll naturally move towards it throughout the day. Make sure this is measurable. Instead of saying: “I want a better relationship”, “I want to improve my French”, “I want to meditate more”, go for “I want to go on one date night per month, have 50% less arguments per week and do an activity together once per week.” Go for “I want to be able to read my favourite book in French”, “I want to meditate for 45 minutes every morning.”
Visualise The Goal
It’s also crucial to have compelling mental images associated with our goals. Sometimes these come to us spontaneously, other times we have to manufacture them. In any case, they’re powerful. They show us what the vision will look like in reality, inspire us, and help us overcome the how-to problem. Maxwell Maltz says it’s the imagination that sets our creative goal-seeking mechanism into action.
A simple exercise is to sit for five minutes, say your goal aloud, and allow images associated with that goal to come to your mind. Then elaborate on those, picturing related scenes and visions in your mind. Make sure these images are emotionally compelling. This is a vital part of subconscious programming, as we’ll soon see.
Repeat Over And Over Again
What separates a toddler’s inability to walk and an adult’s two-legged fluency, aside from biological factors, is practice and repetition. The adult can walk with their eyes closed (literally), while maintaining a conversation, and while mentally reciting all the events of the day. Through repetition, it has become automatic and reflexive.
The same principle applies to subconscious programming. It’s trained like a dog, through brute repetition. And once it’s trained, it starts acting out the orders given to it.
That’s why you need to do affirmations and visualisations for at least 60 days, every day. And if you do 90 days in a row, you can expect a re-wiring of your identity to take place. You simply won’t be the same person as you were.
Use The Language Of The Subconscious
The subconscious has its own language. By using its language, we activate it. If we don’t, it’ll lie inactive, asleep. Gil Mayer says in her article on the subconscious that we need to accompany thoughts and desires with strong emotions. Feel it! If it doesn’t inspire and stir you, it isn’t a compelling vision, and you shouldn’t pursue it.
Affirmations work best in the present tense. That way, you convince the mind of a present reality, not a vague future goal that may or may not come to fruition. You leave no wiggle room.
The language of the subconscious is built on emotions, images, compelling goals and ideas. And as Gail Marra points out, it takes everything literally. Be careful what you say to it! As Hill points out, we “possess the key which unlocks the door to the subconscious mind.” You have to control the door, such that “no undesirable thought may influence your subconscious mind.”
Closely linked to emotion is the desire to achieve the goal or create the future reality we envision. If it’s a goal we truly desire, it’ll automatically inspire and stir us, meaning we’re more likely to programme our mind to achieve it and carry out the necessary work.
If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it.Napoleon Hill
I’ve been using this technique for some time, but I had never given it a name. Thanks Gil Mayer! Countering is when we immediately respond to any negative thoughts that come into our mind with its exact opposite. For example, you have the thought: “I have no money” with “I’m a millionaire”. You can counter “I can’t do this” with “I’m a master at this.” That way, you control the door, as Hill dictates.
Team Up With A Friend
A favourite trick of mine, closely related to the countering technique, is to use a friend! Ask them to monitor your words and tell you when you’re speaking negatively or from a place of scarcity. If it’s mutual, even better. Remember, your subconscious mind records everything, fruitful or fateful, and your speech is no different. Friends often see things we can’t, and we can use this to our advantage.
My partner and I have been practising this for several years, and it’s been one of the keys to me transforming my scarcity-based subconscious programming into abundance-based programming. When one of us speaks from fear, negativity and scarcity, we gently point it out to them, encouraging trust and an empowering attitude.
Resources for Subconscious Programming
The Great Updraft: Mind Health – The Scarcity And Abundance Mindsets
The Great Updraft: Master Your Mind YouTube Series
Article: Understanding The Subconscious by Karen Mcky
Napoleon Hill – Think And Grow Rich
Maxwell Maltz – Psychocybernetics
Article: The Difference Between Your Conscious and Subconscious Mind by Marisa Peer
Article: Subconscious Mind – How to Unlock and Use Its Power by Valentin Mayer
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