We learn things consciously but the conscious mind gets overloaded very easily so it codes information into long term memories, below consciousness, at the unconscious level. So once we have practiced a skill enough times, we no longer need to consciously think about it, it becomes an unconscious process and we do it automatically. We are programming things into the unconscious mind from the day we are born. What’s good, what’s bad - what’s happy, what’s sad - what’s right, what’s wrong - what’s safe, what’s dangerous. Once a skill, a habit, or an idea is programmed into the unconscious mind, it’s locked in, behind, a barrier, the part of your mind, like a traffic controller, that decides what can and can’t go past and when.
The prime directive of the unconscious mind is to protect us and keep us alive. And the way it operates is, like the hard drive of a computer, it accepts what we program into it without analysing it – it just accepts it and because you are surviving, it thinks that it is protecting you and keeps running the same programs. This is not a perfect system.
Sometimes the directives can seemingly work against your conscious desires, like when you experience an anxiety, or phobia. Because once we’ve programmed something into the unconscious mind, it’s almost impossible to change it consciously. So if for example, you have a phobia, you can try to overcome it by telling yourself, “It’s OK, you’re safe,” etc. But if the unconscious mind is running a program that says “terror – phobia” then no matter what you tell yourself consciously, the unconscious mind will have its way. Your heart will pound, your breathing will quicken, you might break out in a sweat. Anything you tell yourself will bounce off that barrier because it is your unconscious mind that is in control.
Now in hypnosis we just go into a state of relaxation and we simplistically relax away that barrier, so we can talk directly to the unconscious mind. Just like putting a new computer program over an old one that is no longer serving its purpose. And once the two parts of the mind are in agreement – for example the conscious mind wants you to be a non-smoker and the unconscious mind wants to be a non-smoker – then the body responds automatically.
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