The Unconscious Mind

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Artistic picture of a human brain

Right now, you are aware of the words that you are reading … you are conscious of them … you are paying (at least some) attention to them. This is the conscious part of your brain in operation – the bit that is aware of what is going on and makes all the main decisions in your life. It is the part of you mind that chose to read this article in the first place.

We also have a part of the brain that we are not aware of … that part of the brain that just gets on with things. You are probably not aware of the pressure of your back on the back of chair you are sitting on – or, if you are standing, of the pressure of your feet on the floor. That is, you weren’t aware of it until I mentioned it.

The unconscious part of your brain is busily monitoring the pressure of your back on the back of the chair, and – because there is nothing going wrong – it doesn’t bother to alert the conscious part of the brain, so you don’t think about it.

The unconscious part of your brain does so much for you without you thinking about. It just gets on and does it. Many years ago, you learned to walk. Now that you are an expert at walking, you don’t need to think, “now move your left leg … next your right.” You just do it. The unconscious part of your mind handles all the details without making you aware of them.

Now, this is all very well, until we programme some behaviour into the unconscious part of our brain that we don’t actually like. We can accidentally programme our brain into all sorts of unwanted behaviours – like being afraid of spiders, being anxious about social occasions, binge eating, having a craving to smoke, and so on. When the unconscious part of our mind has learned a pattern, it is very difficult to change it. We cannot say to ourselves, “I’m going to stop being anxious now.” And just stop … it doesn’t work like that.

Hypnotherapy is the art of helping someone get into the right state to allow the unconscious part of their brain to be able to sort itself out on its own. The brain needs the space to sort itself out, and when the right ideas are planted there, and they have space to grow, the brain will, over a period of time, heal itself and get rid of those unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

A very important part of hypnotherapy is to reduce the amount of stress you are experiencing. Whenever you are stressed, the unconscious part of your brain is looking out for problems, and so doesn’t have the space to sort itself out – it is too busy getting ready to deal with the problems that may be coming your way.

So one of the things that a good hypnotherapist will do is to lead you into a nice relaxed state, because when your body and mind are both relaxed, you are able to make the changes you need to make.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Tim Maude

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