“When one realises
one is asleep,
at that moment,
one is already half-awake”
– P.D. Ouspensky
Change is deemed as 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 a 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.
It’s relatively easy to “try” and change. How often have we gone out and bought a 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 you’ve stopped going to the gym, never asked for that pay rise, the “good food” is still stacked at the back of the fridge and has gone off – you haven’t even touched it – and you 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 … 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 bookshelf 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, or for decades and decades, in fact.
The Comfort Zone
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 your unconscious mind; 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 subconscious mind 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,” and “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. It tells 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!”
So, stop trying. Simply do it.