“He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.” – Lao Tzu
The Depth of Your Unconscious Mind
Imagine your mind as an iceberg.
The conscious thoughts you have all day, those “I must remember to pay that bill” or “Can I afford that holiday?” or “Does the new accounts manager fancy me?” everyday thoughts, represent the mere tip of the iceberg; your unconscious thoughts, beliefs, values, structures – tens of thousands of them every day – represent everything else that lies just below the water’s surface.
In short, the unconscious mind is not playing fair!
For every conscious thought you have about changing your world, there are literally tens of thousands of hidden thoughts. Those ‘hidden’ thoughts are made up of unconscious beliefs, ideas and concepts, which run silently in the background out of your awareness, some will be undermining and contradicting your conscious thoughts without you even noticing.
Picture a salmon swimming upstream, fighting the current every step or, in this case, every “stroke” – of the way. Although thousands of salmon make the trip back to their breeding grounds every year, only a few actually survive the constant struggle to fight that all-too-powerful current. So, when an idea spawns inside your mind it has to overcome lots of obstacles and is constantly swimming against the known, or the tide of opposing thoughts, inside your mind, hence change seems difficult.
Well, that’s what change is like. When you try to lose weight, go back to school, stop smoking, try for that promotion, ask for that pay rise, join that gym or simply take a different route home from work (just try it some time), your conscious mind is literally swimming upstream against not just thousands, but tens of thousands of unconscious thoughts telling it, warning it, screaming at it to, “Turn around, go back, this is the wrong way, you don’t belong here!”
Why TRUE Change is So Difficult
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” – Woodrow T. Wilson
If you’ll recall from this book’s introduction, your unconscious mind likes things just the way they are. So when it prevents change, it really believes that it’s doing so for your own good.
Consciously you decide that you want to get slim and shed those extra pounds, at the very same time your unconscious is thinking:
“Why do you want to lose weight? You’re perfectly healthy the way you are. After all, your mother was eighty years old and she was fat. Your husband will become jealous if you start to lose weight and that will cause rows, he will be angry and jealous.”
“Why do you want that new job?” it thinks. “Things are going just fine the way they are. At least I know where everything is here. Nobody will like me there. What if I can’t do what they want?”
“Why do you need a new boyfriend?” it thinks. “We’re just fine on our own! The first relationship was very painful so the next one will be worse. He will probably cheat on you anyway! My parents wouldn’t approve.”
Change is a threat to the unconscious mind; not because it doesn’t want what’s best for you, but because it thinks it already knows what’s best for you. That’s because despite its sophistication and abundance of tens of thousands of thoughts per day, the unconscious mind is basically driven by emotions and it’s probably easier to imagine it as an infant or young five -year-old.
That’s about the age that you begin to learn about logic and your emotional mind is encouraged to become a rational one. Then the conscious mind begins its age-old struggle to try to retain some semblance of control over your life and how to live it. You will understand this even more as you venture further through the course.
It’s relatively easy to “try” and change. How often have we gone out and bought the gym membership, splurged on a new suit, to meet with the boss and ask for a pay rise, bought all the healthy food at the supermarket or joined the online dating site looking for love? And we all start with great hopes and even greater expectations.
But fast forward a week or two and chances are we’ve stopped going to the gym, never asked for that pay rise, new job or promotion, the “good food” is still stacked at the back in the fridge, has gone off – we haven’t even touched it – and we never followed through on any of those promising leads from the dating site.
Why? Why is change – true change – so hard? Think about the last workshop, seminar, conference or self-help group you went to. It was all very encouraging, very inspiring; all very simple – and all done with a nice cup of tea.
You paid your money, walked in amongst like-minded people such as yourself, listened to an inspiring speech from someone who’d “made it” and then, walked out with a handful of books, tapes, CDs and DVDs and… then what happened?
What happened is that you barely cracked the self-help workbook, listened to half of the CD and used the DVD case to prop up the bookcase in your bedroom! That’s because the instructor had no chance of breaking through that protective wall that’s been built up by your unconscious mind for years and years; for decades and decades, in fact.
One two-hour conference, one rousing speech, a few minutes of inspirational quotes aren’t going to be able to infiltrate the control held by the Saboteur Within; nope, that’s a job that only YOU can pull off!
The minute you tried to be happier, think more positively, eat more healthily or simply live better – the very moment you tried to change – your Saboteur sensed that change was in the air and started whispering lots of subtle scary thoughts in an effort to keep you ‘safe’ and well within your comfort zone, as far away as possible from the unknown.
Your conscious mind tried; it tried to get you to change. It led you to pay for that seminar, Google the address, drive straight there, even get there early and find the best seat in the house; you did all those things consciously, of your own free will. It helped you sit there and listen and learn and hope and feel and emote and try; and you tried so hard, and the fact that you were ‘trying’ is actually the root of the problem.
Let me explain a little more about the word “try”. It is a direct command to your unconscious mind that what you have set out to achieve is way too difficult/complicated/challenging and you are going to fail. How many times have you used the word ‘try’ when you were already thinking ‘no, it’s not going to happen.’ Have you ever heard yourself saying ‘I’ll try and get that report written this afternoon’, ‘I’ll try and make it to your party’, ‘I’m going to try to go running every day.’
Master Yoda said it best, when young Luke Skywalker was failing to use the force, Yoda said “Do or do not… there is no try”. The minute you tried implementing some of that change, your unconscious began whispering in your ear, telling you the effort wasn’t worth it, that the CD was hooey, that the instructor didn’t know what he was talking about, he made you feel uncomfortable, that you don’t need to change – you just need to keep the status quo.
Your conscious mind was overwhelmed and drowned out, even as it yelled “The status quo isn’t working anymore!”
Is Your Saboteur Within Making You Fall Asleep at the Wheel?
“When one realises
one is asleep,
at that moment
one is already half-awake”
– P. D. Ouspensky
Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel, only to wake up moments before a jarring collision when your tyres bumped against the curb or ran over the cat’s eyes? You have probably experienced the feeling of “falling asleep at the wheel” even when you’re not driving.
In fact, we can fall asleep while standing up in many areas of our lives. It’s easy to sleepwalk through our family life, for instance, settling into a routine of patterns and habits that often make us feel disconnected from our loved ones.
In romantic relationships we can find ourselves just going through the motions, wanting to change or improve things, but, falling asleep again at the wheel and letting the relationship run its course on its own steam – for better or worse.
Recently I started falling asleep at the wheel with one of my businesses. It was running fine, and very profitably, and it seemed like a good time to leave it in the hands of some very qualified people I thought I could trust. Big mistake; almost immediately I started to hear grumblings – from customers, employees, the bank and the like.
That certainly woke me up in a hurry! But what stung even more was not just the money I lost while I was away; but what it would take to wrestle back control of my own business from those I had put in charge, even though it was for a relatively short time.
As you might imagine, at first, I was very upset by the situation I found myself in, but before long I soon began to appreciate the valuable lesson I learned. Yes, it cost me a great deal but getting that “wakeup call” was what it took for me to take a second, even a third, look at the business and put myself back in the driving seat. Suddenly the business was “mine” again, I was no longer a sleepy passenger, instead, very much awake – and in control.
I was puzzled, when a few months later, I began to feel myself starting to doze again, and something definitely didn’t feel right. After much soul searching and reflection, I realized that this particular business no longer felt in line with my true purpose in life. Sure, I could have forced myself to continue down that same road, the money was good but my soul was pulling me in a new direction. So I passed the business on to a guy who had a real passion for it, and that is the point that I really began to concentrate on making sure I was working with purpose. As a result of this new found focus, the seeds of life as a hypnotist, therapist and coach began to germinate for me.
How about you? Are you in control at the moment? Not just of your company, but of your life? Are your relationships all they can be? Is work going as well as it could? Do you feel as good as you could? Examine your answers again after you have gone through the exercises in this course and then see how you feel. There is a powerful force at work, which could be derailing your life, even as you go about it with the best of intentions.
The worst part is; it’s an inside job!
By putting your hands back on the wheel, you might momentarily think that you can “snap out of it” and steer your life in the right direction. But the truth is that all change, behavior and learning happen at a below conscious level, so if you have conflicting views on the next stage in your life, then you can bet your last penny that your plans will be sabotaged.
Questions to Ask to Check if You Are “Off Course”
I promised you an antidote to the Saboteur Within; some action steps you can take to help steer your life back on track, grab the wheel and make sure that this time, this one time, true change can happen – and will last – because you finally know the true source of what tripped you up all those other times: your unconscious mind.
The strongest tool the Saboteur Within uses against you is your ignorance. I don’t mean that you’re stupid; far from it. By ignorance I mean, quite literally, you are – or, at least, were – ignorant of the power that the unconscious mind has over you.
But no more; by reading and engaging with the principles in this course you can learn the power of the Saboteur Within, and fully engage with the powerful resource that lies within you. Beginning to question the influence your unconscious has, then, gradually at first, then step-by-step, question-by-question take back control of your life, creating more empowering beliefs that your unconscious mind can uphold for you.
For the mathematicians amongst us, the 5%/95% rule is another way of looking at life. 5% you are conscious of and 95% goes on around you at a below conscious level.
Let’s take a new relationship for example: You’ve just met and your new partner is everything that you could ever have wished for. That is your 100% initial input.
Over time you can begin to stop noticing the wonderful things that makes your relationship with your partner so special (the 95%) and, instead, focus on the things your partner does that winds you up! (the 5%)
You could transform your relationship right now just by focusing your attention on what is good about your partner and continuing that approach over the next month or so and notice the difference. You get what you focus on.
The first step is to question; question everything! The next time you pull into a fast-food restaurant two days after you start your diet, don’t just order the special and supersize it without thinking.
Instead, ask yourself: “Am I physically hungry?” It could be that you only just ate half a supermarket and you really aren’t hungry. Instead, maybe you’re thirsty and need a glass of water. Or maybe you’re lonely, sad, upset or emotionally empty, so your unconscious is actually trying to satisfy these feelings the only way it knows how: with food, drugs and external stimulants!
If you begin to think about what you truly want and how you can get it, then you engage your unconscious as a trusty servant. If however, you continue to stay in the same loop of feeling unhappy, angry or sad and attempting to make yourself feel better with food, alcohol or prescription drugs then the downward spiral will continue and change will feel even more difficult!
The next time you stand up from your desk and head straight past your manager’s office instead of asking for that big pay rise like you’d planned, ask yourself what blew you off course.
The Outcome Frame
Specifically, here is a train of thought I would encourage you to use: The Outcome Frame.
The Outcome Frame allows you to clearly let your unconscious mind know what you want to achieve, what that will do for you and the resources that you require to accomplish this. Think about this for a moment: let’s say you are meeting up with a friend this weekend and you haven’t set an outcome for the day.
Well, then it’s very probable that they don’t have an outcome either, or that your friend has a set outcome and will have you doing something for them. Sometimes this is fine and dandy but other times your unconscious can access emotions that seem right at the time, for example; you’re being used or your friend doesn’t value you, but that’s your Saboteur aiming to ruin your relationship. That’s why I encourage you to step up and take responsibility for setting a good outcome for yourself. A lot of people either bite the bullet and just put up with their time being used by others, or you can get angry and upset and never see your friend again! Not a very adult approach to life, is it?
OOOOPs! The truth of the matter is you did it to yourself. How? Well, by not setting The Outcome Frame, you set yourself up for disappointment – and that is exactly what you got! An Outcome Frame allows you to tap into the power of your conscious mind to give your day, or meeting, or outing, or lunch or gym session “guardrails” to combat the power of the unconscious mind.
By creating specific goals for yourself – times, dates, durations, weights, schedules, etc. – you are consciously driving and in control of your life but if you find yourself consistently sabotaging your set goals, then you have unconscious goals that are in conflict and they will beat you, every time. By using the exercises in this book you will be able to uncover your unconscious goals and get fully aligned with your life purpose.
I can’t begin to tell you, when I have my business consultant’s hat on, how many people in companies fail to set an outcome frame for their meetings. They come together, talk for the sake of talking, and there’s no true outcome, so nothing gets decided upon. What happens at that point is that people get frustrated, which then spirals on to the next meeting and around the roundabout we go. In fact, some companies have been doing this for years – and many still do!
Avoid going around your own personal “roundabout” by setting an outcome frame for your daily schedule. If your daily schedule still seems to become undone, even though it has been written out on tablets of stone, then my friend the Saboteur is within your organisation, so give me a call and let’s see what can be done. The basic rule of thumb is:
“If you’ve used measurements, systems and procedures to fix the problem and it’s still a problem, then it’s emotional. Someone within your organisation is benefiting by it failing.”
Please read “The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli, it’s a short story but very aptly and concisely looks at; the truth and its considerations, referencing politics and ethics. The former I confess to know little about, the latter I aim to live by.
Failure: There is No Such Thing as Failure Only Feedback
So take the feedback from what you have been – and are doing – and do something different!
Nobody ever became a beached whale overnight!
What’s more common is to wake up one morning, glance at the mirror – often in shock! – and ask ourselves:
- “Where did these extra 30 pounds come from?”
- “Why am I still in this dead end job?”
- “Why am I still in this crummy flat?!?!”
- “Why am I still smoking all these years later?”
- “Why am I still living alone, all these years later?!?”