Subconscious vs Unconscious Mind: Whats The Difference?

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality. – Earl Nightingale

It is thought that 95% of our brain is used for non-conscious activity.

A great deal of the non-conscious brain operations are related to the subconscious, and unconscious minds.

It’s easy to get confused between the two, however there are some clear differences, which we are going to explain in this article.

What is the Subconscious Mind?

The subconscious mind is much like an autopilot. Its the part of your brain that directs your body how to drive your car to work each day, without you even thinking about it.

The subconscious primarily gets trained by repetition, and once it has learned a pattern it can then begin to take over from the conscious mind.

If you have seen a teenager try to drive a car for the first time, this is a great example of someone not using their subconscious.

Once they have been trained how to drive, and practiced it time and time again, the subconscious takes over.

They no longer need to think about when to press on the gas pedal, or how to use the brakes.

What is the Unconscious Mind?

The unconscious mind is the part of our mind that we are unaware of.

Think of an unconscious person, they are completely out of it. The same goes for the unconscious mind, consciousness has no direct control over unconsciousness.

One example is dreaming, this is thought to be a process of the unconscious mind.

You might wonder what about lucid dreaming then, and it is a good question to ask. Lucid dreaming is sometimes described as the channel between the conscious and unconscious mind.

Some people have a bad experience in childhood which is suppressed from their conscious mind, yet the unconscious knows about it and it may materialize as fear.

Fear of water can be an example of the unconscious mind manifesting, in those that may have had a traumatic water related accident, at a young age.

The Iceberg Metaphor

Freud described the relationship of the conscious to the unconscious mind as similar to an iceberg.

It makes us wonder how much more we as humans would be capable of, if we set about harnessing a greater percentage of the potential power of the unconscious mind.

How to Exercise the Subconscious and Unconscious Mind

It’s pretty hard to do much to improve the unconscious mind as due to its primal origins, and the lack of what science knows about it.

From what we know today it is largely out of our control, however some believe that meditation, lucid dreaming and hypnosis are gateways to the unconscious.

Lucid Dreaming, Meditation and Hypnosis

If you think something is lurking deep inside your own unconscious that you would like to investigate you can try these avenues.

Lucid dreaming: World Of Lucid Dreaming

Hypnosis: Mike Mandell Hypnosis (this site also has a really informative podcast if you like listening as well as reading)

Meditation – introducing the practice of daily meditation to your life can help you become much more in tune with the hidden parts of your mind.

We use and recommend the headspace app. Its great and you can start for free if you are interested in a foray into meditation.

It is much more straightforward to control and program the subconscious mind and this is a big part of most personal development and self help techniques.

It is believed by many that the subconscious mind is extremely involved in directing, or misdirecting, your entire life.

If you are focused on negative thoughts and expect things to go wrong all the time, your subconscious will follow along and ensure that these materialize in your life.

On the other hand if you are more positively minded your subconscious will guide you along a path much more likely to be full of happiness and content.

How Does Your Unconscious Mind rule Your Behavior

We mentioned earlier – the fear of water example – how our early experiences are etched into the unconscious and define how we act and react to different situations.

Subliminal advertising is a way that advertisers figured out which attempts to program the unconscious, with a predefined program to follow.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of subliminal advertising but fortunately it is now illegal in most countries.

Who Am I Then?

With three different operating systems battling it out inside our brains the question then becomes which part are we thinking with?

When we talk to ourselves inside our head, is that subconscious, conscious or unconscious chatter?

Well the experts tell us that the chatter in our minds is a mixture of conscious and subconscious thoughts.

It is the subconscious that pops a reminder into your brain, to put the rubbish out on Friday morning, it is your conscious mind that makes the decision to ask the kids to do it for you.

So next time you make a decision, try to figure out which part of your consciousness it began at and what it was influenced by.

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