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The Nature Of The Unconscious Makes Us Do Unexpected Things

By Monika Nygaard, 
The Nanaimo City Star, Nov/98

NLP is about the study of the unconscious mind and how by understanding these unconscious processes, we can change the way we think and act.


Ever wonder why you find yourself doing things you never intended, yet are automatically compelled to do? The answer, quite often, lies within your unconscious mind.

So, what exactly is your unconscious mind? The unconscious mind, according to a study by American psychologist George Miller in 1956, takes in about 25,000 bits of information per second (now scientists have updated this to 4.1 million bits). The conscious mind, on the other hand, takes in only about 7 bits of information per second, plus or minus 2. Your conscious mind is much like a horse that plods along, your unconscious like Star Trek at Warp 9.

Your unconscious runs your body (all the myriad automatic functions), stores all the memories of everything that has happened in your life, and is the domain of your emotions, among other things. This great reservoir that is you, is really your faithful servant, doing the best job it can to keep you alive, functioning, healthy and happy. And yet because of limiting decisions, negative emotions and trying experiences from the past, it acts to protect us and sometimes inadvertently perpetuates syndromes that are limiting to us.

Since it is out of our awareness, we can sometimes become a slave to these unconscious programs. By understanding the nature of the unconscious, we are then able to better reprogram our unconscious thinking and enable more empowering decisions and behaviours.

Wording things in the positive is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself because the unconscious does not hear negatives. If you say, "Don't think of a green giraffe", what do you do? You have to think of one in order to then not. Although subtle, it has a profound effect. If you have a flu and a friend says, "you'll probably have pain in your stomach", your unconscious registers "pain in stomach". If, however, your friend says, "your stomach will probably be uncomfortable", your unconscious registers comfort, although consciously you know it won't be totally comfortable. You are being given more positive internal messages.

Wording things in the positive is one step to making your cup half full rather than half empty - and it is actually more than that - it can help you fill the cup, because you will be thinking about what you want, not what you don't want. Many people go through life avoiding what they don't want. It's like driving a car by looking at the rear view mirror. You aren't really looking at where you are going and quite likely will go randomly in a direction you didn't want.

By focusing on what you want, rather than don't want, you are letting the vast resources of your unconscious mind assist you in attaining your goals.

The study of the unconscious is a vast field and applying its principles can have a profound and transformative effect.


Monika Nygaard is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Time Line Therapy® Master Trainer and Hypnotherapy Trainer. She can be reached at nlp4change@shaw.ca

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