The Difference Between the Nonconscious, Subconscious & Conscious Mind
In this podcast (episode #414) and blog, I talk about the interconnected mind, as well as the divisions of the mind and what each part does.
In learning about how to use our mind to manage our mind, it helps to understand the divisions of the mind and how these relate to the dynamic nature of thoughts. There are basically two ways of managing the mind: reactively, which generally ends up being messy, or proactively, which is how we clean up our mental mess. Developing a lifelong plan that helps us constantly manage thoughts and their impact is part of a proactive and strategic approach. We can even think of this as “preventative” medicine for your brain!
Understanding the divisions of the mind will help us better understand our minds and ourselves, which will equip us to manage what happens to us in the best way possible. When we understand the why, the how becomes so much easier!
The mind is divided into the conscious mind, the nonconscious mind, and the subconscious mind. To understand these 3 parts, think of a tree. The top of the tree is the conscious mind, which is our communication and behavior, or what we say and do. The tree trunk area and the grass are the subconscious mind, which are the prompts from the nonconscious mind that are just on the edge of our conscious awareness. These are those tip-of-the-tongue, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it cues that evoke and trigger that feeling that something needs to be addressed—something is trying to get our attention. The nonconscious mind is the deep spiritual and phenomenally fast quantum world where our truth value, intelligence, wisdom, meaning, and thoughts with their embedded memories are stored in a swirling mass of energy.
These three parts of mind, of which the nonconscious is the biggest, form about 90 to 99 percent of who you are. Your brain and body are about 1 percent of who you are. This is based on my research and theory, The Geodesic Information Processing Theory, a summary of which is in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess.
When you consciously engage the nonconscious mind through deliberate, intentional, strategic, and proactive deep thinking, you draw your thoughts, with their embedded memories, through the subconscious mind and into the conscious mind. When these thoughts arrive in the conscious mind, they’re in a malleable state, which means you can change them and reconceptualize them. You also tune in to the physical warning signals associated with how you feel, such as an increased heartrate, an adrenaline rush, a headache, or a stomachache. Next, you embrace any feelings, such as anxiety or depression, as an emotional warning signal that something is going on in your life. Instead of seeing these as negative, you see them as telling you something: you make them work for you and not against you. You do this in a celebratory way, not because you’re celebrating the painful memories but because now you’re conscious of them, which means you can change them.
I’m sure you have already experienced this many times: you are just about to say or do something but stop yourself for some reason. Maybe you feel it’s the wrong timing, or that the person is already upset and it would only make matters worse. This is mind-management in action, and one of the many ways we can clean up the mental mess.
In order to make changes in our thoughts and subsequent communication, we need to be strategic, proactive, and deliberate about our thinking. We need to make an effort to be aware of what we are thinking about every day. This is self-regulation, which is really hopeful and exciting! We don’t need to be held captive to our thoughts; instead, we can capture our thoughts. Deliberate, intentional, self-regulated thinking is key to good mind-management because it starts the downstream flow into the subconscious and nonconscious mind.
For more on the divisions of the mind, listen to my podcast (episode #414) and check out my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:44 The different parts of the mind
6:45 The power of the nonconscious mind
7:30 How our experiences affect the different parts of the mind
8:25 How the mind impacts the physical brain & body
9:13 The different parts of the mind are like a tree in a forest
10:20 What happens to your mind when you sleep
11:20 The importance of awareness & mind management
14:35 Why we need to learn how to listen to the nonconscious mind
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.