The Subconscious Mind and Why New Year’s Resolutions Rarely Work
If making a New Year’s Resolution really worked, every year you and all your friends would be happier, healthier and in better shape. In reality, most of us always stay about the same.
When we make decisions we make them with the conscious portion of our brain. On a conscious level we fully intend what we decide, but unless the subconscious mind is on board, our resolution can only go as far as our conscious mind can take it. Because our conscious mind is only about 11% of our mind’s power, we are only successful approximately 11% of the time.
The key to making real change lies in the subconscious mind, which represents approximately 88% of the mind’s power. The subconscious mind is like a computer’s operating system, constantly running in the background and impacting all other “programs” installed over it. The subconscious mind stores and remembers everything we have seen, heard, felt or experienced, regardless of whether or not we remember it consciously.
For example, we typically don’t remember too much from our early childhood, but our childhoods influence us significantly.
How Your Past Influences the Present
Here’s how it works. On a conscious level you resolve to lose weight and get in shape. You know that there many health benefits to losing weight and getting in shape and you want to look and feel differently too. You stay on track for about two weeks then you fall off the wagon. What happened? Here’s how the subconscious mind may have derailed you.
Perhaps your parents divorced when you were little and it was extremely stressful for you, even though you don’t really remember too much about it. Because your mother had recently given birth to your baby brother her weight loss coincided with the breakup of the family.
Even though her weight loss wasn’t the cause of the divorce, you subconsciously associated “weight loss” with “losing my family.” As an adult you may not remember much about this time in your life, but subconsciously you believe that your marriage will break up if you lose weight. Therefore, the 88% of your brain that believes this will do everything in its power to prevent you from losing weight.
How to Overcome Subconscious Blocks
Just because a subconscious block exists doesn’t mean you are forever doomed to failure. Subconscious blocks can be removed with a little bit of gentle but persistent effort, like this:
Consciously state your resolution. Can you imagine or visualize yourself achieving this resolution? If not, how far can you get? Note what’s scaring you, no matter how silly it may seem. For example, if you are strapped for money, you may realize that losing weight requires you to buy new clothes. If this expense is not feasible for you at this time, your subconscious mind will make sure that you succeed by failing to drop a single pound.
Explore your personal history and family beliefs. Does your family/culture/religion have a belief that runs counter to the resolution that you are making? In your family are “good mothers” soft and plump? Is love shown through feeding, cooking and eating with each other? If you lose weight, will it change the way you relate to your family? Subconsciously you might not want this to happen.
Is there any secondary gain that you are receiving? What’s the up-side to being heavy or out of shape? Do you enjoy the way people take care of you because of your weight or lack of fitness? If you believe that nobody will come over and help you anymore if you are fit and healthy, your subconscious may block your efforts.
How will achieving your goal impact other important relationships? Is your spouse the jealous sort? Will your job as a taste tester at the candy store be threatened? What other changes will result from you achieving your goal?
Obviously some of my examples are silly, but hopefully they have helped you see just how silly and irrational the subconscious mind can be. Work through these questions in your head or in a journal. Simply identifying and exposing them gives your conscious mind the ability to find solutions. It isn’t going to happen overnight and it does require a lot of honesty but exposing our blocks to the light will always lessens their hold on us.