The Theory of the Mind: Why Change Is Difficult but Doesn’t Have to Be…
By Brooke Lemke, Hypnotherapist at Genesis Health System
In my last blog, I wrote a brief introduction to myself, hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Today, I’m going to go into greater detail on the theory of the mind which will explain the following:
- Why we have our behaviors
- Why we struggle with the alteration of the behaviors
The Beginning of Your Mind
Imagine your mind when you entered the world. It was a blank slate except for the primitive area of the mind. Here in the primitive area you have your fight/flight mechanisms. Modern day flight is considered repression/depression, and modern day fight is considered anxiety (not necessarily clinical anxiety or depression).
At the beginning of life, from newborn to approximately 8-years-old, you did not possess logic, reasoning, or the inhibitory process; instead, everything you learned was from identifying and associating.
Some of these associations were good (positive) and some were bad (negative). However, all of these associations are “knowns” in the subconscious, and they all form your “life script”. It is this “life script” which motivates you out of your need to survive.
Your associations taught you what to do and what not to do in order to keep you safe. This life script of yours makes up over 90 percent of your mind’s power. The other less than 10 percent of your mind is your conscious: logic, reasoning, decision making and will power. It’s your conscious where desires are found.
In other words, over 90 percent of your mind is motivation and less than 10 percent is desire. Guess which one is going to win the majority of the time? The subconscious. The motivation.
What’s the good news? Your subconscious is doing a phenomenal job of protecting you and keeping you safe! The bad news? Your behaviors might not be what are best for you anymore.
Building New Associations
So, what does all of this mean? Take a moment and reflect on a behavior you would like to change (example: eat more vegetables). Now reflect back on when this behavior first began. Let’s say growing up, you were never exposed to vegetables in your home by your caregivers. As an adult, logically, you know vegetables are healthy for you. They are packed with fiber and antioxidants and other valuable nutrients. You’ve even developed desires to start buying, cooking and eating more of them.
You do great for a few days but then fall off the wagon and go back to eating frozen foods and fast foods. Why? Your subconscious has stronger associations to unhealthy food out of its need to survive. Logically, eating healthy is the way to survive, but your subconscious doesn’t know this. All it knows is that vegetables are an “unknown” and this “unknown” equals “pain” to the subconscious. This “pain” is the wall you keep hitting when trying to change this behavior. The unhealthy food is the “known”, which means “pleasure” to the subconscious.
Important: What is “pleasure” to the subconscious is not necessarily “pleasurable” to the conscious. It’s the same reason people stay in unhealthy relationships despite consciously knowing it isn’t right. Consciously, it is not pleasurable to remain in an unhealthy or even an abusive relationship, but it is pleasure to the subconscious because leaving that unhealthy relationship is unknown and is ultimately pain to the subconscious.
This is where hypnotherapy comes into play. Hypnotherapy is a behavioral therapy that utilizes the hypnotic state in which you’re highly suggestible to allow new associations to be created. Hypnotherapy allows for 100 percent of the mind’s participation without the subconscious feeling threatened.
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