It was Freud who first popularized the idea that we have an “unconscious mind,” and it is this idea that is at the heart of his method, psychoanalysis. Today, this idea has been accepted by many forms of psychology and is the basis of both NLP and hypnosis.
According to this line of thinking, we have two minds: One is our conscious, rational awareness. The other refers to everything out of our awareness and all that which is conscious.
The conscious mind is the logical and rational. It analyzes and interprets what is going on around us. Conscious thinking is intellectual.
The unconscious mind is thought of as the storehouse of our memories. It holds all the things we have learned and stores our conceptions, beliefs, decisions and all kinds of other information.
In reality, we do not have two minds. The terms “conscious mind” and “unconscious mind” are figures of speech, and useful ways of referring to different types of thinking and different states of consciousness.
Milton Erickson, who is known as the world’s greatest hypnotherapist said that a therapist’s patients will be patients because they are out of touch with their unconscious mind. I never gave this much thought, until I began to see evidence of it everyday while working with clients.
While guiding clients into various states of relaxation, or trance, they would have insights and realizations, discover solutions they weren’t seeing before, and express feeling greater peace and wholeness inside for weeks and months to come.
Was I missing something, I wondered?
Indeed I was. I too had dismissed the idea that there is something deeper within each of us, a deeper intelligence we can tap into to solve problems, come up with solutions, heal and transform.
Most of us try to do everything with our conscious mind. We use our limited awareness and rational thinking to change and solve problems. But the conscious aspect of our experience is the smallest portion. That deeper intelligence holds all your memories, is the seat of creativity and inspiration, and contains a resourcefulness the conscious part of us simply does not have.
As I explored the idea of an unconscious mind, I noticed that each time I was working with a client who had a problem, they talked about getting rid of the problem or emotion or pushing it away. They talked of fighting and battling with thoughts and emotions that were coming from a deeper level. Were they at war with themselves?
Since they were sitting there in front of me for my help, it was safe to assume that what they had already done to resolve the problem was not working. I suggested we try another angle. When I explored with them that they had an unconscious mind, a deeper intelligence, it seemed like a revelation. It seemed to many that it was common sense, but they had forgotten it.
I explained that the conscious mind is like the captain of a ship, whereas the unconscious mind is like the crew. If the captain is trying to steer the ship, sweep the deck and busy cooking down below, what will the crew do? Without the direction of the captain, they will start to do their own thing. If they are ignored and mistreated, they will mutiny.
As the captain, I explain, you need to take back control of the ship. It is your job to give clear orders to the crew. and first you’ll have to win back their trust. When they are back on board with you and you give them clear directions, the ship can get to its destination.
We would then do work to enter into trance and connect with this deeper intelligence. Both in the session and after, they would tell me of feeling stronger, more balanced, more peaceful. I even had clients who would open there eyes at the end of the session and say, “All the answers are inside.” I liked that.
So why does our culture not teach us that there is something more to us than our intellect? Why do we not learn to tap into this deeper intelligence to solve problems and access resources?
More importantly: What would happen if we did?
I leave you with one question: Are you conscious of your unconscious?