From birth up until about the eighth year of life the subconscious mind takes in all of life’s good and bad experiences without judgment. During this period the conscious mind begins maturing. By the eighth year the conscious mind has become sufficiently mature to control whether the ideas it encounters should be adopted as new learning by the subconscious mind or rejected. Throughout adulthood the conscious mind becomes increasingly critical of, and selective about, the ideas it encounters. Yet there are circumstances in which the conscious mind drops its guard, and ideas slip by and find their way to the subconscious, where they may become imprinted. These imprints can have positive or negative consequences depending upon their nature. Many behaviors that we wish to change through self-hypnosis may have taken hold of us during momentary lapses of conscious guardianship, or formed during early childhood prior to full conscious development. This three-part article explores four ways that the conscious mind loses control of information flow to the subconscious—the first step to imprint formation.
The conscious mind is a slow, serial processor of activity. It works best when considering things one at a time. When faced with multiple tasks it divides its attention, giving brief attention to each thing and then moving on to the next in a round robin or even random fashion. Like a juggler with five balls in the air once a ball is thrown attention turns to the one about to fall to the ground—without really paying attention to the other three already in flight. Scientists have determined that the conscious mind reliably holds five to seven ideas or things at the same time. It is no coincidence that U.S. telephone numbers are seven digits long, excluding area code.
Ideas can slip by conscious control when the conscious mind becomes overloaded with too many things to track. An overloaded mind is stressed but any situation which causes the body to react with physical, mental or emotional adjustment also causes stress. Frustrated, angry, nervous or worried thoughts may also have stressful effects on the body. Attention becomes fully occupied with numerous foreground issues while the background task of guarding the portal to the subconscious becomes neglected, increasing the chance that an idea may slip by.
Here is an example:
A customer service representative is simultaneously managing a phone conversation from an angry customer, locating and updating the customer’s product order file, and mentally formulating a satisfactory response to the customer to resolve the problem. In the middle of all that the boss passes by and launches a negative comment about a touchy subject—chronic lateness of reports. “I haven’t seen your report yet. You are always late getting your work in.” ZING! The remark slips right past the conscious filter and reaches the subconscious.
There is no way of knowing what effect, if any, that comment may have. The subconscious, interpreting everything in a literal way, may take the boss to mean that work should always be delivered late.
Those who master the art of self hypnosis know methods of preventing negative imprints from taking hold in the first place.
Part 2 will discuss the effects of physical and emotional shock on the conscious mind and how that leads to ideas slipping past the conscious into the subconscious.