One thing most people don’t know about Hypnotists is that we are considered experts on how the human mind works and operates. People tend to think we just make people do funny things on stage, which is so far from the truth. When it comes to understanding the subconscious hypnotists tend to have a vast understanding of this subject. One of the reasons is because the subconscious is where we do our work. So I thought it would be a good idea to write an article that details the different roles and functions of the 3 different parts of our mind.
One of the reasons we are so good at helping people is due to our understanding of the human mind. Now, please understand that we as Hypnotists are experts in the mind, not the brain. The brain would be the domain of licensed professionals to a degree. I know some of you are confused because you thought the mind and the brain we’re the same thing. Well to make understanding this concept easier I would like you to think of the brain as the physical organ that exist within our skulls. So if the brain is the physical organ within our skulls than what is the mind?
The mind doesn’t actually exist in the physical sense. For instance, if I we’re to cut open your brain you would never find the three different parts of the mind. The three parts of the mind are terms used to describe the different roles and functions of the brain. The way our brain works and processes information on a level we are not aware of. For instance, have you ever thought how your eyes blink or how your heart just continues to beat without you thinking of it? These would be functions underneath your current awareness. Have you ever noticed how you can hear your own thoughts, yet they are inside your mind? Have you ever wondered why you respond or act to something the way you do? If so, these are the reasons that many, many years ago lots of really smart people decided we needed a way to define these different roles and functions of the brain. Thus we have the mind and the three different parts that make it up.
Now some people believe that these three parts of the mind really exist, but we just haven’t found them yet. I don’t know about them being actually physical parts of our brains, but I do believe that the roles and functions are a real thing and that we need a way to describe them and define them. They serve as road map to why we are the way we are and how our mind processes new ideas and beliefs and how it produces things such as habits and behaviors. As I mentioned before we as Hypnotist work with the Subconscious part of our minds. A part I will detail below in just a second. To understand how your subconscious works it serves to have an understanding of the other two parts. Now, in some circles people believe we only have two parts, which would be the subconscious and the unconscious. In other circles some people don’t believe any of this stuff. I’m not here to tell you what to believe in. We all have free will, but most professional circles believe in the concept of the subconscious and etc.
It’s funny because the mental health professionals mainly used these terms for many years, but within the last 30 or 40 years the term subconscious has been accepted into the mainstream. Everything from music, movies, books, textbooks, colleges, schools and etc acknowledge the subconscious. So in a way due to this concept becoming a part of normal life we have made it a ‘real’ thing. Yet, I guess we have to ask ourselves a question. Even with all the knowledge and technology we process we still don’t truly understand the amazing thing between our ears known as the brain. In many ways, it’s still a mystery. So it’s my hope that this article will help you to understand how your mind works, how your brain works and why you are the way you are. I’m not going to explain every little detail of why you are whom you are, but by understanding the different roles and functions of the mind/brain whatever you want to call it. It can do nothing more than give you insight to a degree. What you do with that insight is up to you. Remember, as a hypnotist I can’t control anyone.
So, let start by detailing the first part of our mind. The part of your mind that you are using to read what I am writing. The part of you that actually keeps you from becoming the person you can become.
The conscious mind
The conscious mind is the logical, analytical part of our minds. It’s the part of the mind that must give you a reason for why you do what you do. Your conscious mind also deals with your willpower and temporary memory. Your conscious mind is what you use most of the time. Well, as far as having an actual knowledge of using it. It’s the part of you that decides what you want for dinner or what you should wear to work. The conscious mind is very important to us because without it we would be useless. No one could make decisions; make judgments or figuring things out. An example would be for you to place your hands on the keyboard, NOW!!!
If you did as I asked you would have put your hands on the keyboard. This is your conscious mind at work. Another example would be to think of which ice cream you like best and why. Currently you are using the conscious part of your mind to analyze which ice cream you like and the reasons why. Now as far as capacity the conscious mind is quite limited. Many researches and smart guys believe the conscious mind can only hold 7 bits of information at a time. Now you are saying that’s not true I can think of tons of different things. I didn’t say you couldn’t think of different things, but try to think of 8 different things ALL at the same time. You can’t, it’s impossible unless you’re an alien and if you are, good for you.
What happens is your conscious mind can switch from one thought to another within a split second. Always pulling the information you need from another part of the mind, which we will be covering next. See, the reason this part of the mind holds us back is because it has to give a reason for everything we do. Everything has to make sense to this part of the mind. For instance, have you ever tried to quit smoking before or lose a little weight? Well the moment you start giving yourself positive suggestions such as I’m a non-smoker or I’m losing weight everyday this part of the mind kicks in and rejects it. Why? Because it looks for past experiences and beliefs that match with your new suggestions and if it can’t find any it rejects them. Why? Because to this part of the mind how can you ‘be’ a non-smoker when you smoked yesterday? It has to do things logical and have a reason for everything.
So since this suggestion is rejected. Your chances of becoming a non-smoker have gone down big time. Now, once in a while some suggestions will slip through the natural defense of the conscious mind, which we will call the critical factor. The critical factor is basically the guard at the gate. It is the part of the conscious mind that determines if the new suggestions match current beliefs. If they don’t the gate stays close and nothing gets in. This is why hypnosis is so powerful because hypnosis allows us to bypass this part of the mind and get direct access to the part of the mind we want to work with.
The subconscious mind
The subconscious mind is where your emotions reside and emerge from. This part of your mind does not analyze, it’s similar to a computer and runs off of the programs it has learned. These programs are your life experiences, beliefs, ideas, things that have happened to you and etc. All of these experiences make you who you are. In essence, they are the programming you have installed in your mind. Your permanent memory also resides in your subconscious mind.
We never truly forget anything, but the conscious mind only has limited storage so the databases of our memories are stored within this part of the mind as it can never be full. As anything those these memories are subject to how we viewed the event at the time the memory was created. Remember that our beliefs, ideas, opinions and views define the way we experience events. Your subconscious is also the protective part of your mind and does what it can to keep you out of danger.
This is the part of the mind we work with using hypnosis. This part of the mind as stated above is whom you are. It’s the database of all your experiences, beliefs and ideas. The critical factor, which was mentioned above, is the guard, which protects this part of the mind. Another way to look at this would be that the critical factor is the piece that connects the subconscious with the conscious mind. The reason hypnosis works so well with this part of the mind is because it doesn’t analyze information. It just accepts things as they come. So in other words when you or a hypnotist give a suggestion it goes right into your database of experiences and becomes a part of you. Now, depending on how long a belief has been a part of you it may take compounding of the suggestion over time to take effect. Think about it now, it took you awhile to become a smoker, so the same is to be true to become a nonsmoker.
To this part of the mind, if a suggestion gets through it’s treated as real. Now, the critical factor hasn’t been destroyed it has just been giving a bride or in other words told to take a break for a few. It’s still watching for anything that might violate your moral or ethics, but other than that its just relaxing and enjoying a mini vacation. Since hypnosis allows us to bypass the critical factor of the conscious mind its a powerful tool to affect change by technically adding new programming or deleting old programming that isn’t benefiting you at this point in time.
Now for an example or two. Have you ever zoned out while driving on the highway and wondered how you go to your location without any memory of driving. This was your sub conscious protecting you as it kicks in and handles things when your conscious mind is too busy. Your sub conscious is always on, always watching and it sees thing you don’t. Ever knew to hit the breaks just in time before hitting a car? Ever wonder how you know exactly when to press the breaks and what’s the right amount of pressure to apply? Ever wonder how you are able to calculate the time needed to stop and taking into consideration the speed you are traveling, weight of the car, reaction time and etc? I bet you never though of any of this and that’s the purpose. It happens under our noise. It happens under conscious awareness, which is why we call it the subconscious.
To be honest with you no one knows exactly how this process works, but it does. When it gets backed up or confused the subconscious kicks in temporary until the conscious mind is ready again. It also protects us in another way, which isn’t always the smartest thing, but in the eyes of the S.C. this method works fine. See, many people think smoking is a bad thing, but what if I told you that your smoking is actually serving some type of positive purpose in the eyes of the sub conscious. It is actually providing you with something that the subconscious perceives as positive.
Let me give you an example. A girl goes to high school and starts to date. She thinks everything is great with her first boyfriend, but later she learns he cheated on her. The next boyfriend doesn’t work because the girl is wondering if he will cheat on her. Eventually, since she doesn’t trust the boyfriend he ends up cheating which only adds fuel to the fire. This creates a pattern or habit in her mind that guys will cheat on her and hurt her. Now we jump ahead about 13 years and this girl who is now a woman has always been done wrong by guys. They have either cheated on her or hurt her in some way. Now, she was always a skinny girl, but within the last few years she has began to put on a little weight. As months go by she gains more and more weight. She doesn’t really notice as it’s happening slowly over time. It keeps building up until one day she weights almost 300 pounds. She now sees herself as ugly and decides to stay at home more instead of meeting new people. So what happened here?
Due to her being hurt over and over again while growing up. The subconscious decided to protect her in the best way it can. It figured if she gained tons of weight no man would want her. So if no man wanted her, than how could she get HURT? So yes overeating may be bad for you, but it serves some type of positive purpose in the eyes of your subconscious.
The unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is the part of the mind that controls your body functions, such as breathing, immunity, heartbeat and so on. The functions we never pay attention too and just seem to run on their own. This part of the mind is the most mysterious to us, as we know very little about it. The reason is because it does everything below our awareness. Have you ever wondered how you knew how to cry as a baby? Many professionals believe all the basic functions and instincts we have come from this part of the mind. Lots of people like to call the subconscious the unconscious mind, but I have found breaking up into three different parts make a lot more sense.
So these are the three different parts of our mind each with their own roles and functions. When combined they make up who you are and they are the reason you are who you are. If anything this article should show you how complex our brain/mind is and that fact that we have barely touched the surface. We are amazing beings and while knowing the different roles of the mind won’t give you power. It will give you an understanding of how you work and that knowledge is priceless in my opinion.
Joshua Houghton is a 26 year old Consulting Hypnotist with the National Guild of Hypnotists and The International Hypnosis Association.
When Joshua is helping people using Hypnosis he is hard at work educating the public about Hypnosis through his very popular Hypnosis Blog which features articles from some of the biggest names in Hypnosis.