I was very interested in your recent ‘soiled pants’ blog and feel that the following simple explanation might throw some further light on the power of the sub-conscious mind.
When we are in a conscious state we are able e.g. to plan our future, reflect on our past, be creative, imaginative and mindful; “so the question is, when we are in THAT conscious state who’s running the rest of the show?
When learning to drive our consciousness is heightened primarily because there are lots of complementary actions that need to be processed, coupled with a real fear that if things go wrong the consequences could be devastating. Not surprisingly, most learner drivers will initially find the whole process daunting, even terrifying, and that’s hardly surprising when all the information that enables seasoned drivers to seemingly drive on automatic has to be manually inputted into our subconscious for reference. But the good news is that over time, each action will become so ingrained that it can be replicated without thought and of course, the more the process is repeated the easier it will get. And that is exactly what our subconscious does. It stores information and creates behaviour patterns so that we can undertake everyday mundane tasks automatically, without thinking.
But that is only part of what it does, during a trip from A to B, our subconscious is not only processing millions of pieces of data EVERY second through our 5 senses, but controlling our physical, emotional, psychological, analogical state. So whilst we can be e.g. engaged in a conversation with a passenger, thinking about the meeting we are driving to attend, planning our next holiday etc. our subconscious is continuously processing information to ensure that not only are we able to drive without thought but the mechanics that controls our emotional senses and physical actions are continually alert and able to respond to environment changes.
So there you are happily driving along minding your own business, when having slowed down to allow another driver to enter the main carriageway, the driver of the car behind blasts his horn…Now there are a number of reactions that can take place as a result. If your subconscious is programmed to act in a passive manner to such aggressive behaviour, whilst feeling uncomfortable, as your sub-conscious triggers anabolic and psychological changes, placing you in a fight or flee mode, your persona is such that you quickly ignore the horn-blasters and move on. However if you are programmed to react aggressively, then it will be a whole new ball game… before you have time to think, you stop your car, leap out verbally and physically launching yourself into the horn-blower…resulting in a costly court appearance leaving you wondering why the hell these things keep happening. Good question.
It is fair to say that most of us understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour but if our conscious thoughts are not supported by how our subconscious has been programmed (principally before we reach the age of 7) then the subconscious will always prevail, instantly triggering, without thought or consideration, those same inappropriate crazy reactions, time and time again. Why? Because that is exactly what NATURE designed to do…and yes you absolutely right when you say that this is not your fault.
James B (Cambridge University)