Your subconscious mind can be a fickle thing. There are layers upon layers of complexes, limiting beliefs, and obstacles that us conscious users aren’t completely aware of, and complications arising from these phenomena can hold us back from getting anywhere we want to go–or being the people we want to be.
It’s precisely because of the subconscious that seemingly obvious things can be so difficult. If I have a complex that deems rich people as evil, then I am putting up a wall between myself and money. If I have a complex that says true love is a lie, I might never have meaningful relationships in my life.
In this spirit, I’ve been experimenting with some proposed ways to understand ourselves better. The following are five techniques that I think stand above the rest:
This one is simple. Put a small piece of paper, and a pencil, inside your pocket as you go throughout your day. Every time you have a positive reaction, write down what triggered it in a “positive reaction” category. Every time you have a negative reaction, do the same but in the “negative reaction” category. After a few days, take a look at the lists, and you will most definitely see some patterns.
For myself, I’ve been doing this for a week. My negative reaction category was filled with things like “grades this semester,” and “doing my TA assignment today.” I noticed that my subconscious viewed these things, which I typically enjoy, as being burdensome because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to do them. Because I now know that, I can start to work to make some changes.
2. “Treasure Hunt”
For this one, sit in a reasonably quiet place, and try to relax your muscles. Then, simply ask your subconscious to give you some of its favorite memories. It sounds wacky, but if you give it some time, you’ll start to relive experiences that you have completely forgotten about. And, again, you’ll start to notice some patterns. What lies beneath can give you clues as to what your subconscious enjoys above all else.
Keeping a journal is great for a multitude of reasons, but choosing to have one for the sake of just communicating with your subconscious can be immensely rewarding.
Instead of the typical “this is what happened today” spiel, focus on how it made you feel, and hold nothing back. Remind yourself that you are the only one who will ever read your journal, and there is no need to try to put on a mask or pretend like something was alright when it wasn’t. If you have angry thoughts, make sure you describe them in full detail.
This requires a full embrace of “who you are” (i.e. what your subconscious thinks). If you can accept your flaws, you have an opportunity to improve upon them.
4. Muscle observation
When you have a strong negative reaction to something, it has been well documented that that feeling has an associated muscle contraction somewhere in your body. For me, I notice my feet start to clench up, and my shoulders begin to tighten.
If you focus on your muscles, and keeping them relaxed, then you can start to understand what is causing them to tighten throughout the day. When you have prolonged muscle tightness, you drain your body of its natural stores of energy, and days can suck the life out of you. Just like the others, understanding this phenomena can get you well on the way to improvement.
Alright. I’m gonna be honest. This is going to sound weird.
You have to treat your subconscious like a child. Imagine that you’re walking around, doing your normal activities, and you have a child hanging out with you that only you can see. Every time something happens, or every couple of minutes, speak to the child and ask him how he’s feeling. Say, “subconscious, how do you feel about that? How are you doing today?” By personifying your inner self, you can start to have real conversations.
Remember not to judge what you perceive. Just try to understand it. You’re not an art critic–you’re just a fan.
How You Can Use This to Improve Right Now
Take Monday through Friday, and practice one of these each day of the week. On the weekends, gather up all of your observations and do some work.
Of course, you could also pick your favorite from this list and start going at it right now. There are so many facets of ourselves that we are kept in the dark of, and that darkness can lead to problems if not treated correctly. However, if you can start to understand what’s holding you back, stressing you out, or in your way, then you have the power to change–and one day, conquer your world.
Go forth, and good luck.