“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Gustav Jung
When was the last time you paid attention to your thoughts? I mean, really noticed your thoughts without judgement? Here’s the thing: most people are oblivious to their thoughts because it is like a crowded freeway in their mind, where drivers are asleep at the wheel. This is what many people experience with their thoughts. The noise is overwhelming, so they ignore their thoughts. However, this is a problem because if we are unaware of our thoughts, how can we trust what we think, let alone trust ourselves to communicate truthfully?
Your conscious thoughts are the artifacts of your unconscious beliefs. Let me explain what I mean. Thoughts are the storehouses of the unconscious mind and they define reality as you believe it to be. However, they are subjective, meaning what you believe about the world differs from others. As the French-born novelist Anaïs Nin said: “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” Meaning your observations are based on your perceptions. You create a mental model of the world through your conditioning and project it outwardly. To use a simple analogy: Your unconscious beliefs can be likened to a musician playing an electric guitar, whereby the amplifier is the projection for the sound. The musician represents our unconscious mind and the amplifier is the conscious mind. It can only project what the guitarist plays, not change the music.
In other words, no matter how hard you try to change your conscious thoughts, it is futile until you reconcile your unconscious beliefs. It is because the unconscious represents your accumulated thoughts, beliefs, and experiences from childhood. It is the storeroom for experienced trauma and the canvas upon which you perceive life. For example, if you had a tough childhood, you may have created a belief that the world is not safe. Moreover, life is unfair, and it is difficult to express oneself because you are never heard. You wouldn’t be wrong in believing this, especially if exposed to trauma as a child. It is often said that even though your wounds are not your fault, your healing is still your responsibility. Therefore, we must rewrite the influence of our upbringing by transforming our beliefs so we don’t carry our trauma into the future.
Change Your Internal Scripts
“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.” — William James
Are you comfortable with this idea that your unconscious mind determines the quality of your life? To create a better future requires transforming unconscious thoughts to be in harmony with the reality you wish to live. This is because many of your thoughts are outside of your awareness and it is difficult to determine the origins of your unconscious beliefs. Typically, you can look at areas of your life not functioning optimally, such as your relationships, finances, career, and health. Where there is a dysfunction in these respective areas, chances are, you are manifesting via your unconscious beliefs. The good news: You can change your internal scripts by making conscious what is unconscious. It requires re-internalizing a new belief and rehearsing it until it becomes your new reality.
To put this another way: to make conscious the unconscious requires being mindful of your outdated scripts (beliefs) and creating new mental associations. For example, I had a stern upbringing from an uncompromising father. Nothing I did was good enough for him; he always found fault with my choices. This resulted in repressed anger and feelings of shame, guilt, and unworthiness into early adulthood. When triggered as an adult, these unconscious wounds took centre stage and played out in my life. It felt normal to react this way because I was unconscious of my reactions. This is the biggest insight I hope you take from this article: When unconscious beliefs are repeated and reinforced, they become an automatic response and feel normal to you.
Don’t Fight With The Ego
“The Ego’s job is to kill everything but itself.” — Byron Katie
To further reinforce this idea: If someone criticizes you, you might think they are being cruel and unfair. After all, they are the source of your pain, you assume. However, if you are in an intimate relationship where the other person mirrors your unconscious beliefs, you will go to war to defend your position. If the relationship breaks down, you might decide to work on untangling your unconscious wounds. In my case, I spent years transforming my unconscious beliefs because I did not want to be dictated by my unconscious beliefs. Nowadays, when I experience anger, criticism, or shame, I am mindful of my reactions. I am no longer entangled in my unconscious reactions. Instead, I allow them to pass through my consciousness without being dictated by them.
I am not trying to remove the unconscious belief because it has a right to exist. Fighting the ego is a sign of resistance, and it will push back because the ego does not want to be suppressed. The aim is to be aware of your beliefs when they emerge without opposing them. It is why I am drawn to the quote by author William Whitecloud who writes in Secrets of Natural Success: Five Steps to Unlocking Your Inner Genius: “The point is, though, that you don’t have to change your beliefs, you only have to change your focus. You only have to change what you put your energy in and therefore give the power to.” As Whitecloud articulates, you don’t need to manipulate your beliefs but redirect where you give your attention. By recognizing your unconscious beliefs, you shine a light on them through an expanded awareness. Through regular practice, your unconscious thoughts will naturally subside because you are no longer resisting them. They are free to come and go without resistance.Considering this, I invite you to undertake an exercise and journal two or three beliefs holding you back in your life. If you’re unsure, consider areas where you’re experiencing problems. If you still find it difficult to identify these areas, ask someone close to you for help. Once you’ve identified two or three beliefs, I encourage you to work through your beliefs using Byron Katie’s powerful self-enquiry program, The Work. It comprises journaling your answers to four questions, to see how those beliefs are negatively influencing your life. Ultimately, we must become attentive to our unconscious beliefs and not be dictated by them. After all, if we are the accumulation of our unconscious beliefs, we have the power to transform them in alignment with our core self.