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Functions of the Mind - The Power of Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapists are good at helping people. Why? because of their understanding of how the human mind works. Although, No thanks to stage hypnosis, the misconception is that we just make people do silly things, take over the mind or open the door to a dark place - which is far from the truth!

Hypno'therapists' have a professional and ethical understanding of the mind - which explains the strict requirement of liability insurance and the existence of professional standards associations. So, I thought it would be good to write about the model of the mind; the functions of its three parts, how the mind works, how the brain works and why you are the way you are - to some extent that is. I will not explain in every little detail of why you are who you are, but in understanding the different roles and functions of the mind can give you some insight into how you work. What you do with that insight is up to you. Remember, I can’t control you!

So, let’s start by detailing the first part of the mind. The part of the 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 our mind. It’s the part of the mind that must give reason for why we do what we do. Our conscious mind also deals with our willpower and temporary memory. Our conscious mind is what we use most of the time. It’s the part of us that decides what we want for dinner or what we should wear to work. The conscious mind is very important because without it we would be useless. No one could make decisions, make judgments or figure things out.

As far as capacity, the conscious mind is quite limited. Research shows that the conscious mind can only hold 7 bits of information at a time. Now you might be saying “that’s not true, I can think of tons of different things.” I don’t mean it in that way, but try to think of 8 different things ALL at the same time. You can’t. It’s impossible, unless you’re an alien, in which case, good for you. What happens is, your conscious mind switches 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).

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? The moment you start giving yourself positive suggestions such as ‘I am a non-smoker’ or ‘I am 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. Again, why? Because to this part of the mind, how can you be a non-smoker when you smoked yesterday? It has to do things logically 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 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. 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 term subconscious has been accepted into the mainstream but in many ways it is still a mystery. The subconscious mind is where our emotions reside and emerge from. This part of our mind does not analyse. It’s similar to a computer and runs on the programs it has learned. These programs are our life experiences, beliefs, ideas, things that have happened to us etc. All of these experiences make us who we are. In essence, they are the programming we have installed in our mind.

Our permanent memory also resides in our subconscious mind. We never truly forget anything but the conscious mind only has limited storage so the databases of our memories are stored within the subconscious part of the mind - as it can never be full! 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). Our subconscious is also the protective part of our mind and does what it can to keep us out of danger.

This is the part of the mind we work with when using hypnosis. This part of the mind as stated above, drives who we are as a person. It’s the database of all our experiences, beliefs and ideas. The critical factor 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 overanalyse information - in other words, when a hypnotherapist gives a suggestion, it goes right into the 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 a while to become a smoker, so the same is to be true to become a non-smoker.

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 given a break. It’s still watching for anything that might violate your moral or ethics but other than that, it’s just relaxing. Since hypnosis allows us to bypass the critical factor of the conscious mind, it’s a powerful tool to affect change by technically adding new programming or deleting old programming that isn’t beneficial.

Now for an example or two... Have you ever zoned out while driving on the motorway and wondered how you got to your location without memory of the entire journey. This was your subconscious protecting you as it kicks in and handles things when your conscious mind is busy thinking of other things. Your subconscious is always on, always watching and seeing things you’re not aware of - 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 travelling, weight of the car, reaction time and etc? Not the things you think everytime you drive, and that’s it, it happens under our nose. It happens under conscious awareness, which is why we call it the ‘sub’conscious.

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 temporarily until the conscious mind is ready again.

It also protects us in another way - which isn’t always the smartest way, but in the eyes of the subconscious 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 subconscious. 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 out because the girl is wondering if he will cheat on her. Eventually (since she doesn’t trust the boyfriend), he ends up cheating and adding 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 is now a woman who 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 started to put on some 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 weighs almost 16 stones. 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? This is known as ‘secondary gain’. So yes overeating may be bad for you but in this case, it serves a purpose in the eyes of her subconscious.

The Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is the part of the mind that regulates all routine and automatic functions within the body. It beats the heart, it heals wounds by activating the healing process, breathing and so on. The functions we never pay attention to and they just seem to run on their own. This part of the mind is the most mysterious 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 breaking it up into three different parts make a lot more sense. In hypnosis we can also access the unconscious to influence the healing mechanisms within the body.

So these are the three different parts of your 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 the 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 with that knowing you can use your mind to make YOU powerful!!


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