First, it is important to understand how your mind works. We have three separate and distinct parts of our mind. These three parts are: the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the unconscious mind, each having different responsibilities with very little communication among each other. Imagining that the parts of our mind are at different levels, first, we have a conscious mind. Our conscious mind is actively working right now. Below our conscious level of awareness, is where we will find our subconscious mind. And going even deeper to find our unconscious mind.
Our unconscious mind is basically responsible for two things. It controls the strength or weakness of our immune system and it controls our automatic body functions. Automatic body functions such as the beating of our heart and the blinking of our eyes. Our unconscious mind is basically unaffected by hypnosis.
Our conscious mind is where we spend most of your time. Basically, it has four responsibilities. First, it analyzes by examining information or an event and then deciding how to solve it. It also makes the thousands of decisions that we face through out a typical day. Decisions that appear to be automatic, but in fact, are not. Examples of such decisions are: "Should I turn the light on? Should I open the door? Should I dry my hands?" These type of decisions may appear to be automatic but really we make a decision as to whether or not we want to do them.
The second part of our conscious mind can actually get us into trouble some times. It is the rational part of our conscious mind. It must give us a reason why we behave in a particular fashion. Understanding that if we don't have a reason for why we behave in a certain way that we become anxious, nervous, frustrated. If this goes on to long it can lead to serious mental illness. Now, just because the rational conscious mind gives us a reason doesn't mean it is an accurate reason. And the biggest problem is that the reason is never original. The following are examples of this problem: a smoker says "I smoke because it helps me to relax. I need a cigarette when I drink coffee," or "I need a cigarette after I eat;" an overweight person says "I eat when I am bored, I eat when I am upset," or "I eat when I am happy." Really, before the smoker developed the habit, he actually heard other people that smoked say, "I smoke because it makes me feel calm and relaxed" etc. And the same with the overweight person, who heard other overweight people claiming "I'm overweight because I eat when I'm nervous" etc.
One of the real reasons people are smokers or overweight is because of a need of security or belonging. Security being a basic need for all human beings. As an example: generally, a smoker starts smoking when he is young and because he wants to belong to another group of friends. If he feels that he doesn't belong to this particular group, his subconscious mind (which must protect him against danger, real or imagined) recognizes the lack of security as a definite danger. In order to feel secure and accepted by the group, he accepts a cigarette, immediately rewarded by feeling accepted with his level of security going up. Having nothing to do with feelings of relaxation.
The next part of our conscious mind is what has been labeled will power. This part of our conscious mind is weak and we are all familiar with it. A person might say, "I am putting down this pack of cigarettes and I am never going to smoke again." We all know how long that lasts! And just as familiar for the person who has tried to diet. Will power weakens and the old habit patterns return again.
The last part of our conscious mind is called working memory or short term memory. It is the memory we need every day, to get through an average day. "How do I get to work? What is my husband or wife's name? What is my phone number?" Etc.
These four responsibilities make up the conscious mind. In summary, the conscious mind is very logical, rational, and analytical; and frequently WRONG.
Now, where the REAL you lives, in the level below the conscious, called the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is extremely powerful, it is the most powerful part of our mind. It can make you into anything that you want to be. Like the old saying, "What you perceive is what you shall be." Whether you think of yourself as rich and famous, poor, thin, overweight, happy or sad, it is the REAL us. To understand the subconscious mind, you need to realize that it is very similar to a computer. A computer, if bought new with no programming will not respond when given a command.
It will only respond to a command once the programming has been put there. Once the programming is there, the computer must operate according to that programming, it has no choice. If you purchase new programming, put it in the computer, and eliminate the old programming; it can no longer operate according to the old programming. It must respond and operate according to the new programming. Well, this is the way our subconscious mind works. It is a computer, functioning with the same type of rules and regulations. Only much more powerful. When we are born, our computers are basically unprogrammed- there is some programming, but not very much. We program our computer each and every day through our life experiences. The primary rule of our computer is this: It MUST make us into the type of person that it perceives us to be based on the programming that has been placed into it. And programming is continually added to it day after day until we die. As an example: if that computer subconscious mind of ours says we are fat, then we are fat! If it says we are thin, a smoker, a success, or a failure then that is what we are. It adds up all the programming and makes a decision about us, about the type of person that we are, and then that is exactly what we are! Never rising above that label until we change the perception of ourselves.
So, thinking along the lines of a computer... our subconscious mind has operational software. The first software being our memory... our long-term, permanent memory which goes as far back as birth or prenatal, depending on your beliefs. The subconscious mind is similar to a video camera. Everything that has ever happened to you, that you have heard, seen, touched, smelled, and tasted is locked permanently into the memory banks of your subconscious mind. We never 'forget' anything. If necessary, in hypnosis we can access that memory bank and appear to travel back in time. For example, in regression hypnosis we can travel back and re-live your first birthday or your birth. Now, this is much more than recall, it actually feels like you are there, it is happening all over again. You can hear very clearly, see what happened, feel, smell, and taste. We never forget anything in the subconscious, only at the conscious level.
The second programming we have in the inner mind, the subconscious mind, is habits. Now, you really only have three kinds of habits. Some are good and some are bad, but most of our habits are utilitarian. We automatically respond in a certain fashion when something else happens. For example, when the telephone rings we don't look at it and wonder what it is and why it is making that sound. We decide to pick it up or not depending on our mood.
Emotion is the next thing in our subconscious mind. Of course, we wouldn't want to be without emotions like love, caring and all the other good emotions. But sometimes our emotions get us into trouble. The conscious mind can not deal with emotions in any way, that is not part of its job. Any time we need emotion our conscious mind parts like the Red Sea and we deal with the particular situation from our irrational, juvenile like, but highly intelligent subconscious mind. And as I said, sometimes it gets us into trouble. Many times we deal with situations with an extreme amount of emotion that really isn't necessary. Then after the situation is over and that analytical conscious mind takes over again, you find yourself thinking or saying, "Why did I say that?" or "Why did I do that?" This has happened to all of us at one point in time.
The next thing in our subconscious mind is our protective mind. This is likely the most important part. It must protect us against danger, real OR imagined. Understanding that something imagined by our subconscious mind is just as real as something truly experienced, it can't tell the difference and it MUST protect us.
The last part of the subconscious mind is a negative part of us. Even though the subconscious is the most powerful part of our mind, it is extremely lazy. It doesn't like to do the work that is required to accept positive suggestions. To give us change in areas where we would like to have change. It likes to keep things the way that they are, it takes too much work to make change in a positive way. Positive suggestions are one of the most difficult things to get into our subconscious minds. On the other hand, negative suggestions go into this inner part of us like a hot knife through butter, because it doesn't take any work to accept a negative suggestion.
As an example: a very heavy person gets out of the shower and looks at herself in the mirror, saying to herself, "I am fat." That idea or thought goes right into her subconscious and her subconscious mind says, "Yes, that matches the programming that I have in here, that matches my perception of you." Therefore, it accepts that suggestion and her perception of being fat becomes even stronger, causing her to get heavier. On the other hand, if she said to herself, "I’m thin," her subconscious would reject the suggestion because it wouldn't match her programming.
It is important to understand if a thought or a concept is allowed to go into the subconscious mind, it must happen. You could revise or eliminate the old programming and the inner, subconscious mind would then have to respond to the new programming. But it is not that easy.
There is one more part of your conscious mind that I failed to mention earlier. It is the critical factor of the conscious mind and it communicates with the subconscious. Its only job is to stop and put on hold any suggestion of positive change that we give ourselves or receive from an outside source. As an example: a man wants to stop smoking. His critical factor communicates with his subconscious, "He wants to stop smoking, can I let this suggestion in?" Now, remember, if this suggestion enters his subconscious mind, it must happen. But his subconscious mind says, "Wait a minute. He's been smoking for twenty years, he needs cigarettes for security." (Or whatever reason he has). "Besides you realize I would have to do years of re-programming and I just don't feel up to it. I don't want to do it, reject the suggestion!" And so the suggestion is rejected and can not go into the subconscious, inner mind. The only other place to take that suggestion is will power in the conscious mind. And we all know how long will power lasts. How many diets have we been on? How many times have we tried to stop smoking?