Darleen Barnard is Board Certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer who specializes in weight loss by using the power of the mind.
Reprogram the Subconscious Mind
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to break old habits such as smoking, eating fast food, or not exercising? As much as you want to stop smoking, eat better, or get in shape, your willpower just isn’t enough to make it happen. The American Psychological Association defines willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.”
By definition, willpower isn’t meant to last forever—it is only meant to be temporary! Also, willpower resides in the conscious mind. We are consciously aware of what it is that we want to achieve and we use conscious thought and decision-making to make it happen. But real change happens at the subconscious level, and if we want to make longer-term changes, we need to find a way to reprogram the subconscious mind.
Conscious vs. Subconcious Mind
The subconscious mind is the main driver of our behavior and, therefore, our performance. If you are not getting the results you want, you must learn how to reprogram your subconscious mind for success.
Our mind functions primarily on two levels—the conscious and subconscious level:
- Conscious Mind: Your awareness at the present moment. This includes free will, cognitive intelligence (IQ), and ability to think. This is where reasoning, logic, and willpower take place. This is approximately 12% of our mind.
- Subconscious Mind: Information that is accessible but not something you are currently thinking about. This includes memories, values, beliefs, emotional intelligence (EQ), and spiritual intelligence (SQ). This is where our habits also live and it makes up approximately 88% of our mind.
How to Reprogram the Subconscious Mind
Let’s say we want to lose weight. Our conscious mind has thought about our current weight, analyzed specific information and determined that we need to lose weight. Now remember, our conscious mind only makes up 12% of our mind. Our subconscious mind makes up the other 88%. Unlike our conscious mind, our subconscious mind only likes what is “known” or comfortable (think of your comfort zone) AND it is driven by our beliefs and values.
We have 88% of your mind that wants to maintain your current weight and your current habits (comfort zone) because we have a fundamental belief that we have always been over weight and always will be. This belief is working against the 12% of our mind that wants to lose weight. Not a fair competition! But the good news is that when you change the programming of your subconscious mind, you will have 100% of your mind working to help you achieve your result.
You can use your willpower in your conscious mind to get you started while you are working to reprogram your subconscious mind for the long-term.
So, how do we reprogram the subconscious mind? There are a lot of different methods but one popular method is to create an affirmation that directly addresses the self-limiting belief and use a positive life-experience as an anchor to create a new neural pathway in the brain.
Step 1: Identify the Goal
Identify the goal you want to achieve. In this example, let’s say you want to lose weight.
Step 2: Identify all Self-Limiting Beliefs
Identify all of the self-limiting beliefs in your subconscious mind that you have about losing weight. Identifying self-limiting beliefs is a big step and you may need help with this, such as a life coach or a therapist. These self-limiting beliefs may be difficult to uncover on your own. Whatever those self-limiting beliefs are, spend some time identifying them. This may take days, weeks, months, or longer, but continue digging. This step is really important because we must know what is holding us back.
Step 3: Create a Positive Affirmation
Create a positive affirmation to address that self-limiting belief. Let’s say your self-limiting belief is that you have always been overweight and have failed at losing weight in the past; therefore, you will never be able to lose weight in the future. Create a positive affirmation that directly addresses that self-limiting belief such as, “Every day I am becoming more successful with my weight loss.” Don’t be too specific—just keep it positive and make sure it directly address the self-limiting belief (a feeling of success addresses the negative feeling of failure).
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Also, make sure you use present tense and use words that create positive feelings such as success, fun, enjoyable, confidence, etc. Focus on the process, not the end result.
Step 4: Anchor Affirmation to a Positive Memory
Now that you have your affirmation, identify an event from your past that made you feel on top of the world and made you literally want to jump up and down with happiness—perhaps it was the day you graduated from college or the day you nailed a presentation you were really nervous about or even the day you ran your first race. Whatever that event was, right before you go to sleep every night, re-live that experience. FEEL the excitement and the happiness. Close your eyes and picture that day, let it bring a smile to your face. As you feel your excitement rise, insert your affirmation, “Every day I am becoming more successful with my weight loss.”
By using a positive event from the past as an ANCHOR for your positive affirmation, you are actually creating a new neural pathway in your brain that challenges that self-limiting belief and it directly aligns with the goal you want to achieve.
Rules to Get the Best Results
There are a few rules to get the best results:
Rule 1: Do it right before you go to bed and first thing in the morning.
Your subconscious mind is more open right before you drift off to sleep. That in-between state of waking and sleeping is actually a state of hypnosis. This is the best time to plant seeds in your subconscious mind to begin the reprogramming process! Also, start your day out right with re-committing to your affirmation and remind yourself why you are doing this.
Rule 2: Be consistent.
Do this every night for at least 4 weeks—longer if possible and as long as you need! Just like putting pebbles in a bucket of water, you probably will not notice anything at first, but if you consistently put one pebble in the bucket every single day, 1 month from now you will have a bucket full of pebbles (positive thoughts) and a lot less water (negative thoughts). Trust the process. And who doesn’t want to drift off to sleep every night thinking positive, happy thoughts?
Rule 3: Stay positive.
As soon as those negative thoughts creep in, force those out of your mind immediately and think of your positive event and your positive affirmation.
As you work to address those self-limiting beliefs and replace the negative self-talk with positive self-talk, you will be changing your subconscious programming. As you slowly reprogram the 88% of your mind that has been working against you, your subconscious mind will kick-in when your willpower eventually runs out. Enjoy the journey!
Quick poll on most common challenges:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Darleen Barnard
Darleen Barnard (author) from Henderson, NV on April 09, 2019:
Thanks so much!! The subconscious mind is fascinating and yes! One pebble at a time adds up with consistency!
Saswati from India on April 09, 2019:
great article. Loved the pebble concept
Brad on April 05, 2018:
I do think that communicating with the subconscious can help with your waking hours.
You mentioned doing the affirmations before sleep.
I wondered if your affirmations before sleep can change your dreams.
Dreams don't seem to have a clear connection to what you see in reality.
If your affirmations are accepted in your subconscious would there be some connection to your dreams that night?