Have you ever set a goal and wondered why reaching it felt like pulling teeth? Despite how frequently you make strides in the right direction, or attempt to put in place habits that better serve you, does it feel unreasonably difficult to make any notable progress? This could be accredited to the beliefs moving through your subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind is essentially a container for everything that is not actively circulating around your conscious mind. This includes your past experiences, your skills and all of the beliefs that you have formed about the world around you. The activity that goes on in the subconscious mind is not immediately observable, yet this part of the mind is what drives the majority of our behaviors.
We can set goals until we are blue in the face, but if our subconscious minds are not on board, reaching these goals will prove to be an insurmountable task. Trying to meet a goal or make a positive change with a subconscious mind that is not on the same page is like paddling a boat upstream—it requires constant effort on your part and the moment that you stop paddling, the current will pull you right back down to the bottom of the stream.
If we wish to break patterns that are no longer serving us, meet a certain goal, or make a lasting positive change, the most effective thing that we can do is get our subconscious minds working in our favor. We can do this through reprogramming the limiting beliefs that we hold in this part of the mind. Here is a basic framework that you can use to reprogram your subconscious mind.
Get into a hypnotic state
Prior to doing this work, it is essential that you are relaxed enough to get into a hypnotic state. In this state, your conscious mind takes a back seat and you are better able to influence your subconscious mind. Some things you can do to wind down include taking a bath, going for a nature walk, doing a short meditation, practicing breath work or journaling about your day. Once you are ready to begin, either lay down or sit up with your back supported. I find that it helps to elevate my legs with a pillow and cover myself up with a blanket if I’m laying down. Do whatever you need to do to get comfortable and settle in. The more relaxed you are, the more receptive your mind will be to what you are about to do.
Identify the block
First and foremost you will want to identify the block. Sometimes blocks spontaneously present themselves to us in situations that trigger us. Other times blocks are less obvious, because they exist in the areas of our lives that we feel stagnant in. Journaling is a great tool for exploring where your blocks might be.
Ask yourself, what people or situations really get under your skin for no immediately obvious reason? Where in your life do you feel stuck? What are the patterns that you repeatedly find yourself playing out? Either mentally go through these questions, talk about this with a therapist or journal them out. Focus on one block at a time for maximum effectiveness. Once you find a theme, try to pinpoint the belief behind it.
Sit with the feelings that come up around it
Bringing up an emotional block can feel like pouring rubbing alcohol on an open wound. Keep charging through—having uncomfortable feelings arise is often a sign that you are moving in the right direction. When these feelings come up, allow yourself space to sit with them, again taking notice of the belief looming around these feelings.
Float it back to the time of formation
Now is the time to mentally float back to the time that you formed this belief. Close your eyes, feel into the feelings moving through your body and ask yourself, when is the first time that I felt this way? Be patient with yourself, allow this to be an intuitive process and trust whatever comes up.
The overwhelming majority of the beliefs we hold about the world around us and how we fit into it were formed in our developing years, from the ages of 0-7. That being said, during this part, you will likely pull up a memory from these formative years.
When I moved through this exercise to get to the root of my social anxiety, I saw my 4 year old self being rejected by other kids at a birthday party. From this event, I had formed the belief that I was unlovable and simultaneously developed an intense fear around rejection that dictated my life as an adult. I mention this to bring home the point that sizeable obstacles in our adult lives can be rooted in seemingly trivial moments that occurred in the first few years of our lives. Children are impressionable—everything is a contributing factor to how they see themselves and the world around them.
Determine what it is that your inner child is needing
At the core of a limiting belief, is a child that has a need that is not being met—whether it be for something physical like food, or for something emotional such as a caregiver who values their feelings and makes them feel seen. Now that you have a memory to go off of, you can sit with that little version of you and feel into what it was that they were needing. For instance, 4 year old me at that birthday party needed an adult to help her feel safe being herself around other kids.
From here you can imagine adult you going in and meeting the need of this inner child. This can be as simple as offering your inner child a hug and telling them that they are a good kid. For me this meant imagining my adult self serving as a mediator between little me and other kids to make me feel more comfortable interacting with others.
Insert a new belief that better serves you
While you soothe your inner child, allow yourself permission to release the limiting belief that formed around this situation and insert a new belief that better serves you. This new belief can be anything that makes you feel empowered and at peace with what happened. Here I envisioned myself letting go of the belief that I am unlovable and replaced it with the beliefs that I am loved and supported by others and that it is safe to be myself. Say this new belief to yourself repeatedly like a positive affirmation. Eventually, your mind will program this new belief into your subconscious mind so it becomes your default.
As we reprogram our subconscious minds, we change our default patterns and in turn create lives that revolve around our strengths opposed to our limitations. When we get down to the root of why we do what we do, we can make lasting changes and do so in a way that is far less strenuous than trying to change our behaviors alone. Take this work at your own pace, listen to your intuition and most importantly, love yourself along the way.
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Photo: Jr Korpa via Unsplash