About the Mind Tips

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How do negative attitudes get accepted by the subconscious?

The Subconscious

When fixed ideas are accepted by the subconscious, they stay there, unless they are replaced--that is, those tapes need to be written over. When they reside in your subconscious, they influence your attitudes and behavior.

So how do the fixed ideas get into your subconscious in the first place?

Fixed ideas can be accepted at any age, but they are more likely to take root when we are young. Young children lack reasoning power. They don't accept everything they are told, but they are more likely to believe things that damage their self-image than are adults, especially confident adults.

Ideas that come from authority, are repeated, and have an emotional component, are more likely to be accepted. This includes ideas that are only overheard.

Can you see how a child might come to believe he is stupid or clumsy, or that he is incapable of doing something, if he hears it often enough?

You may remember incidents that led you to have feelings of inferiority, or they may be buried in your subconscious. We don't need to bring out these memories and make you relive them with self-hypnosis. This is not psychotherapy. If the memories do come out later, it doesn't matter. They will no longer have power over you.

Don't waste time and energy blaming your parents or your teachers for causing you to have these fixed ideas that have held you back or made you feel inferior. You're in charge now. Self-hypnosis shows you how to use the power of your mind to improve your life.

Does the brain ever change?

Brain Changes

Experts used to think that the brain did not change. We were born with all the brain cells we were going to have, and it was all downhill from there. Recent findings show that isn't all there is to it.

Although the brain is fully formed at birth (except for size,) it can change. The neurons make connections with each other as learning progresses. The number of potential connections is too large to calculate. Albert Einstein left his brain to science, and it was discovered that he had no more brain cells than the average person, but many more neuronal connections.

Recently, scientists have discovered that the brain can actually change dramatically, to the point that some areas taking on functions that are generally not associated with them. This is called neuroplasticity. The brains of Buddhist lamas who had meditated for thousands of hours over their lifetimes showed great activity during meditation.

One Harvard research team concluded, "Behavior will lead to changes in brain circuitry, just as changes in brain circuitry will lead to behavioral modifications." So it appears that our practice of self-hypnosis can alter for the better not only the psychological "mind," but the structure of the physical brain/mind as well.

Other research shows that aerobic exercise improves circulation to the brain, increasing the neural connections. There are even new brain cells formed in the hippocampus, part of the memory apparatus.

The same diet and exercise recommendations that contribute to cardiovascular health keep the brain functioning well. What's good for the heart is good for the head.

What happens when you change old ideas?

Changing Old Tapes

If you can imagine your bad habits and negative feelings as cassette tapes playing in your brain, self-hypnosis is the CD that can record over them, which can make the change permanent. You don't want to just add something new and leave the old stuff there to reappear.

So what you are doing is replacing the old habit or attitude with something new and profound.

This does not mean that you will not remember your old way of thinking. But it will not have power over you any more. We've all changed our beliefs at some time or another when we received new information that changed our way of thinking about an idea. You remember how you used to think about something; you just don't believe it any more.

Profound change is not instantaneous, except in rare instances where it is triggered by an external event. The rule-of-thumb for forming new habits is that it takes 21 days. You will use self-hypnosis to form new habits to take the place of the old ones, just like recording over old tapes.

There are other ways to change fixed ideas, such as through accepting authority or experiencing related shock, either positive or negative, but these are not as controllable as self-hypnosis. "During hypnosis, it is as though the mind temporarily suspends its attempts to authenticate incoming sensory information," according to R. Nash's writings in Scientific American.

Does positive thinking work?

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is certainly better than negative thinking. That is, an optimistic outlook is more likely to pay off for you than a pessimistic one. Henry Ford is supporsed to have said, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."

What is expected tends to be realized. But you can't just force yourself to believe something if there are fixed ideas to the contrary residing in your subconscious.

You have to get past your conscious mind to talk to your subconscious. Hypnosis allows you to do this. Positive thinking, however, may just be your conscious mind talking to your conscious mind. Saying something doesn't make it so. And don't count on some mysterious vibration or current reaching out to take care of it for you.

Once you truly believe that you can, say, make a million dollars (positive thinking version), don't plan on just sitting back and letting it happen while you think about it. You still have to do the work, but now you can move forward without sabotaging your own efforts.

Positive thinking may even reinforce the negative thinking you are trying to get over. Consider the old game where somebody tells you to think of anything but an elephant. Anything at all, they say, just not an elephant. Try it! Of course, you will think of an elephant. If you try to force your positive thoughts, you may end up spending more time thinking about the habit you are trying to break, which makes it more a part of your consciousness, and harder to get rid of.

If positive thinking has worked for you in the past, it will work for you even better when you do it in a state of self-hypnosis.

What is the conscious mind?


The difference between the conscious and unconscious mind is generally clear. You are conscious when you are awake, and unconscious when you are asleep (and during certain medical conditions we will not discuss here). Planning, decision making, working, studying, and other everyday activities are under control of the conscious mind. Those pesky nighttime dreams bubble up from the unconscious.

Although consciousness has been around for all of history, and before, it wasn't really reognized and studied until the end of the 18th century, when it was addressed by philosophers such as John Locke. They were looking at the idea of consciousness of self. Some think that being aware of one's self is what sets humans apart from other animals.

"Unconscious" has other connotations, so we generally use the term "subconscious" for the same concept in hypnosis. Freud's subdivision of mind into ego (mostly conscious), id (unconscious), and superego (some of each), is not useful for our purposes, except to note that the superego functions as conscience or moral judge, and as such is contained in our concept of the subconscious.

Because much of what's in your subconscious helps you to get along in society, the conscious mind defends it. This reveals a problem with positive thinking. It stays in the conscious and doesn't usually get through to the subconscious, where change is made. Getting through to the subconscious is the task of self-hypnosis.

Why is it so hard to change attitudes?

Fixed Ideas

Consider that you have certain fixed ideas about your abilities that reside in your subconscious. These ideas may originally have had survival value, but now they cause you to lose confidence and question your own abilities.

To make things worse, we tend to exaggerate our perceived failings. For instance, let's say you have always had trouble with spelling. (Note that "always" is a loaded word, throwing up a barrier to change.) What do you say about it? "I'm a lousy speller." "I never could spell, even with a dictionary." Or you may even say, "I'm the world's worst speller."

Such remarks, even if you are exaggerating deliberately, do not show an attitude that is conducive to improvement. Here are a few other examples. Can you think of any on your own?

"I keep to myself and avoid social situations, because I'm not smart and no one will be interested in what I have to say."

"Dance? Are you kidding? I have two left feet."

"I wouldn't apply for that promotion. I couldn't learn the new program."

"That aerobics class looks like fun, but I won't join because everyone will laugh at me because I am so fat and clumsy." (By the way, nobody in a beginning aerobics class will laugh at you because they are all worried about themselves.)

Make a list of negative feelings you have about yourself that may keep you from doing things you really want to do. You will probably find that you are really hard on yourself. Would you be as critical of someone else?

How are memories stored in the brain?

Find the Memories

Images and experiences of all kinds are registered by the part of the brain called the hippocampus, then sent to the frontal cortex for processing. The frontal cortex determines whether these images are to be discarded or put into long-term storage in the brain. The few seconds this takes is called short-term memory. You, as an entity with free will, decide if something is important enough to remember, though some experiences are so powerful you really have no choice.

The brain does not, as you may have heard, store the image of every leaf you have ever seen, but it may store the mage of every leaf you notice.

In the 1930s, a surgeon, Wilder Penfield, stimulated an area of a patient's brain during brain surgery, and the patient felt like she was reliving an episode from her childhood, something she probably would not have recalled consciously. This demonstrates that memories are physically stored in the brain.

Some stored memories constitute learning and can be consciously retrieved. Others contribute to attitudes--fixed ideas--that are adopted by the subconscious. It is certain of these attitudes that we seek to change by self-hypnosis. You can't just force yourself to change. Your conscious mind may not even know what these fixed ideas aare, or where they reside.

What are the functions of the mind?

Functions of the Brain and Mind

If you want to delve into the art of self-hypnosis, you probably know, or are intrigued about, the power of the mind. Your mind is wonderful and mysterious. The more you learn to control it, the better you will be able to achieve your goals.

The brain is an organ; the mind is hard to find. The brain is the body's control center. Only a small part of the brain, the cortex, is devoted to thinking, though it has other functions as well. The cortex is the outer layer, and probably most recent from the point of view of evolution.

The brain is busy making your body work right, controlling your heartbeat and respiration, sending and receiving impulses to and from your spinal cord, and many other functions. In the meantime, experiences are processed and stored away as memories. Various kinds of learning take place.

The mind is an abstraction. It does not necessarily reside in the brain. In fact, it is probably throughout the body. But it must have some link to the cortex because it requires consciousness and self-awareness. Neither of these is necessary in the most primitive part of the brain, the brain stem, sometimes called the reptilian or lizard brain, which regulates life functions like heartbeat and respiration.

Strangely, the mind does not distinguish between real and imagined events. Research shows activity in the same parts of the brain when you are imagining doing something as when you are really doing it. This is very important in self-hypnosis.

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