Imagine for a second that you are chronically late for everything from work to doctor’s appointments to dinner plans with friends. You know this about yourself and you DO honestly try to be more punctual, you set your clocks fast, you lay out your clothes the night before, you find directions so you don’t get lost, you’re doing everything any reasonable person would do in order to ensure you arrive on time. You really don’t like the way it feels when people are waiting for you, but try as you may you just can’t seem to change that behavior. What’s up with that? Or maybe you struggle with your weight. You hit the gym religiously, it seems like you’ve tried every diet under the sun, yet your body never seems to change. You might be tempted to blame your metabolism, after all isn’t that what the ads say? “It’s not you, it’s your metabolism.” Why is it that we can have the best of intentions to change things that are VERY important to us, yet we just can’t seem to follow through?
Well, the good news is, it’s NOT you, not really. It’s the writing on the walls of your subconscious mind. Gary Craig, the inventor of EFT uses this analogy to describe the deeply subconscious beliefs or truths that are ingrained within us. You see, even if you have the best CONSCIOUS intentions, your subconscious mind is actually responsible for much of your behaviour, and if it has reason to, it will trump the desires of the conscious mind over and over again. This is the root of self-sabotage, a.k.a. Akrasia. Approximately ninety percent of the thoughts you think come from the subconscious mind. Think about that for a second. You think a lot of thoughts through the day right? “I wonder what traffic is going to be like, I hope the boss likes my proposal, Should I work out today? What will I have for dinner? Where did I leave those keys? Is my kid being bullied at school?” It’s incessant. Here’s the kicker… those only account for about ten percent of all your thoughts. Staggering isn’t it? Below the surface of your conscious awareness, many, many more thoughts are having their way with you. So, what’s going on in that subconscious mind of yours? Of special importance, what’s going on in there that’s getting in the way of you making positive changes in your life?
Many of our subconscious thoughts have to do with protection and survival. After all, we evolved as a species because we HAD to be concerned about things that could kill us and dominant parts of our brain are still very concerned about that. Our old caveman hind brain doesn’t MEAN to stand in our way, it’s really just trying to keep us safe. The problem is, it doesn’t have the logical, more advanced capabilities of the more developed human mind that it needs to make informed decisions about what is or isn’t safe. As we learn and grow as children the subconscious mind is doing it’s very best to filter and sort incoming information into piles of what is safe and what is not. That can be very helpful in keeping us safe but it also means that the subconscious mind often collects data that is incomplete or misinterpreted. For example, the child that learns that the stove is hot and it can burn her will generalize that all stoves are hot, and therefore, dangerous. In this case it’s a good thing. As we mature and the logical mind comes more into play we understand that not ALL stoves are hot. They are only hot when they are in use. The problem is, our perceptions and beliefs about who we are, what we are worthy of, what we are capable of and much more are often created through the awareness of the young, inexperienced child’s mind as well, and those immature perceptions implanted in the subconscious mind may still be running the show. In fact, this is often the case on emotional subjects, or things pertaining to the idea of self. Subjects like money, body image, self-worth, self-love, confidence in our abilities etc., while they will have our logical adult input, are more often ruled by the subconscious beliefs we created as a child. The idea of safety encompasses a whole lot more than just physical safety; emotional safety is a major driver of the subconscious mind as well. Doing anything that threatens that safety can be so unsettling to the subconscious minds’ perceptions of who and what we are that it just WON’T allow it.
So, how does that relate to our chronic lateness or our inability to lose weight?
Let’s assume that a child has a fairly normal experience of doing things that are less-than-pleasing to their parents. In their normal childhood curiosity, they fill the bathtub with water and throw in anything that looks interesting. Mom finds the mess and her anger, frustration and disappointment are obvious to the child even though they may not understand where Mom’s emotions came from with their undeveloped young mind. The brain is constantly learning and coming to conclusions based on our life experiences and from this experience a truth begins to take hold in the subconscious mind something to the effect of “I am bad”, or “I let people down”. Life goes on and we chalk up a few more experiences that lend credence to the same belief, making it stronger with each subsequent “matching” experience. Those experiences could come from ANYWHERE, but the most common ones are from our parents, our teachers, our siblings, our church, the media, television etc. etc.
It’s important to realize that often those experiences don’t REALLY mean what we’ve determined that they mean at all, it’s just our four year old brain’s interpretation of circumstances and events, drawing it’s own conclusions from the very limited perspective that accompanies youth. It really doesn’t matter what “authority” it came from, as a young child everyone is an authority to us, even our 5 year old playmate that shares something he heard from his big brother would be deemed as truth by the young mind. Children from birth through to the age of seven years old are predominately in an alpha brain wave pattern, a state associated with super-learning and much like deep hypnosis. This, combined with the fact that we have not yet developed mechanisms for critical thinking or empathy leaves us highly impressionable. Everything we hear, see or are otherwise exposed to at this stage of development is, for all intents and purposes, automatically true and automatically means something to or about us as a person. ‘This is the stuff that shapes our subconscious believes about who we are and what we are capable of and it is often carried into adulthood unless we take the time to ask ourselves some deep questions and do some re-programming work. Childhood trauma can be particularly hard to overcome, as anything that causes pain (physical or emotional) firmly links the circumstances surrounding any traumas in the subconscious mind as being potentially dangerous situations. In this case, using techniques such as EFT, PsTec or The Sedona Method will be vital in re-programming those pesky, negative and usually false belief systems.
Fast forward 30 years and you can’t get your butt to work on time. If your early life experiences caused you to come to the conclusion that “I let people down”, or “it’s not safe to succeed”, you will continue to express behaviours that are in line with those subconscious beliefs, you can’t help it, and I know you’ve tried! Same goes for losing weight. If you have a subconscious belief that you’re not good enough, and being at a healthier weight is in conflict with that belief, guess what? It’s not going to happen, at least not permanently.
The great news is that we have tools to change those subconscious beliefs. As powerful as they may be, a belief is just a thought you keep thinking, or a habit of thought. Habits can be changed, but it’s helpful to know what those thoughts are in that case, and with a truly subconscious belief we won’t have any conscious awareness of it. We can work backwards from the problem that we’re having and take guesses as to what might be in our way. For example, you could ask yourself some probing questions like “What is the benefit to me of always being late?” Your first reaction may be indignation, after all, what could you possibly be gaining by being late? But I guarantee your subconscious mind believes it’s better to be late, so ask it why it might feel that way. We can often access subconscious thoughts through our dreams, meditation or simply deep contemplation. The emotional freedom technique is another great tool that we can use to uncover and re-program our deep subconscious beliefs, giving us the power to make the changes that are important to living a happy, fulfilling life.
Subconscious blocks, as we refer to them, are complicated and often multi-faceted. It’s rare to find one block to a life-long problem and have the problem disappear, although that does happen at times. By working with a trained EFT practitioner, you can systematically find and resolve the blocks that are standing in the way of you doing what you know is best for you!
Have you ever uncovered a subconscious belief and seen the resolution of it change your life? Share your experiences in the comments section below.