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What Does It Mean to Act Subconsciously?

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Summary: Are you aware that you’re thinking subconsciously most of the time? Leverage the right techniques to change predominant thought patterns.

Did you know that you use your subconscious mind every day subconsciously?

The potential of your subconsciousness is almost limitless. But to harness its power, you need to understand how it works. 

Here’s a look at how you think, feel and act subconsciously and how different this part of your mind is from your conscious self:

Ready to become more conscious about your subcounsious? Let’s dive in.

Woman in front of neon lights contemplating the power of subconscious

What Is Consciousness?

How best can you answer the question: what is my conscious? Your consciousness is your thinking mind. It’s present moment awareness.

When in a state of being fully conscious, your mind performs four essential functions:

  1. Interprets the five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. For example, you may stop and look when you hear the loud screech of tires on the road.
  2. Compares information about the observed event with any similar incident stored in your memory. Your mind will compare details about the car with previously stored information about moving vehicles.
  3. Analyzes information to take a decision. If the car is headed in your direction, should you step further away from the road?
  4. Makes the decision to continue walking along the same path or move a safe distance away from the car.

What’s the difference between conscience vs. conscious?

Both conscience and conscious are related to the mind, but these two concepts are quite different from each other.

Your conscience is your moral compass. It’s your ability to tell right from wrong. When you feel guilty about something, your conscience is telling you that you did not act in accordance with your internal morals and values.

Your conscious mind, on the other hand, is your present moment awareness. It is more concerned with absorbing information, thinking logically, and referring to the data you’re already aware of.

Here’s an example of the conscience vs conscious dilemma in action:

Say your friend asks you for advice on a moral dilemma. To understand his problem, your conscious mind will need to process what he is telling you.

After you’ve understood the facts, your conscience will weigh the potential options in light of your personal beliefs of what’s right and wrong. If you heed your conscience, you will advise your friend on what you think the right course of action is.

What’s the difference between conscience vs. conscious?

What’s the Difference Between the Conscious and Subconscious Mind?

In the car example above, your conscious mind made a decision after comparing a present moment event with past experiences. But where did the details of these past experiences come from?

Your subconscious mind acts as a repository for all you’ve experienced. The information your conscious mind receives comes from your subconscious mind. It’s your subconscious that will tell you whether there is a danger from the fast-moving car.

Both the conscious and subconscious parts of our mind help us to make decisions. But our subconscious is responsible for far more than we think.

Subconscious Definition and Example

Your subconscious is the part of your awareness that rests just below the level of your conscious mind. The subconsciousness is often best described using the iceberg metaphor. If the conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg, the subconscious is everything below the surface.

Memories in the subconscious data bank can burst into your active, conscious mind. A repressed desire to travel to a new country may lie in your subconscious without your being consciously aware. But sooner or later, that desire will manifest itself.

So, what does the subconscious look like in action? Well, driving your car and simultaneously conversing with co-passengers is one. Typing in your old password on your phone every time you need to open it quickly is another.

Information continuously gets transferred from the conscious to the subconscious. The mind possesses the ability to automatically retrieve experiences, lessons, and memories from the subconscious and bring them to the foreground of our awareness.

Is subconscious the same as unconscious?

The terms subconscious and unconscious are used interchangeably but they are not one and the same.

The subconscious mind is easier to access. It bubbles up organized thoughts from stored thoughts, actions, and behavioral patterns.

The unconscious mind is less accessible. It cannot automatically retrieve memories or patterns the way the subconscious mind can. In the unconscious mind, memories are highly repressed and not readily available.

Subconsciously performed actions are instinctual. They are a response to what we have fed the subconscious mind over years of existence.

In contrast, the unconscious mind isn’t an active storehouse that automates responses. Rather, it is the place that houses suppressed feelings, desires, phobias (hidden or known), and sensory stimuli. These subliminal stimuli occur without your consciousness or awareness.

Even though the unconscious mind is difficult to access, there are psychoanalytic methods you can use to awaken this part of your mind. These methods are often employed as therapy tools and the guidance of a teacher or therapist is recommended.  

Is subconscious the same as unconscious?

Can You Change Your Subconscious Mind?

Subconscious actions can be both friend and foe. Our subconscious is responsible for both additions forming behavior and positive reinforcement behavior.

So, the question is: can you condition your brain to think and act subconsciously in ways that benefit you?

Now, given that your habits are impacted by your subconscious reservoir, is it possible to change deeply ingrained patterns?

Yes. But, there is a catch.

There are several techniques you can use to change subconscious beliefs but be warned. The biggest obstacle in your path will be your subconscious!

How to change subconscious patterns

When you’re stressed, you may binge eat. When you return from home after a long day, you may sit in front of the TV for hours trying to unwind. When you’re alone, you may reach for a drink in an attempt to fend off the boredom.

Don’t get your subconscious wrong — it really does have your best interests at heart. Like a parent or best friend, your subconscious mind will go the extra mile to try and make you feel better. It’s just the execution that doesn’t always work too well.

But rest assured, you can control your subconscious mind. And it often starts with becoming aware of your subconscious patterns.

Every subconsciously performed action is a result of years of conditioning and repetition. And changing those solidified habits can make for one heck of a challenge.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

Your subconsciousness is not rigid or inflexible. Quite the opposite, in fact. By understanding how human behaviors are formed and influenced, you can take proactive steps to modify subconscious patterns and make the seemingly impossible possible!

You can master your subconscious and unconscious mind. As a starting point, a deep understanding of how your subconscious mind operates will help you adopt healthy new thoughts and habits. These new ways of thinking can assist in overcoming addiction, meeting your goals, and designing the life of your dreams.

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Matt Coates

Matt is a copywriter for Mindvalley. As a professional word putterer, he can be found constantly squeezing his creative juices to concoct personal growth narratives to transport people to a place where great potential knows no bounds. He is also on a quest to be seriously funny.
Picture of Matt Coates

Matt Coates

Matt is a copywriter for Mindvalley. As a professional word putterer, he can be found constantly squeezing his creative juices to concoct personal growth narratives to transport people to a place where great potential knows no bounds. He is also on a quest to be seriously funny.

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