What improves our personal health, relationships, happiness, wellbeing, and life in general? Progress made in neuroscience has allowed researchers to ask more complex questions and find more complex answers.
Today as researchers address these fundamental questions, one important one is: What happens in our brain when we shift the focus of our attention?
Certainly, the focus of our thoughts affects the firing and wiring of brain cells--neurons. But it is not thoughts, in and of themselves alone, that fire and wire neurons.
Truly, what makes our thoughts so powerful is that they cause direct changes to our emotional states.
Perception filters--the meanings we attach. Cells within our body respond to our thoughts, specifically interpretive thoughts, i.e. the kind that explain to our subconscious mind how we see the world at a given point in time.
Let's say you encounter a lion… when this happens you automatically go into survival mode… unless you are a lion tamer. In this case, unlike most people, you will have completely different beliefs about how to relate to a lion.
Based on your past experiences and the meanings you attach to the lion, you will be able to interact with the animal without activating your survival mode. Your beliefs will let your body and mind remain calm--in the brain's "learning mode."
Interpretive thoughts are beliefs. These thoughts or beliefs act as perception filters in your subconscious mind. They influence activation of certain processes within you as well as management of all your body's systems. Your perceptions offer all the information your subconscious needs to operate and do the following:
- Guarantee your basic survival.
- Remind you of the emotional drives that connect you in a meaningful way to life.
The "judge" and the "robot" Now, here are two key points. First, your conscious mind is like a judge and your subconscious mind is like a robot. The judge can rule over your subconscious mind... that is as long as you stay aware and mindful.
Your subconscious, a genius at multi-tasking, is designed to process huge amounts of information every second, while your conscious mind processes a much smaller amount at any given time. Therefore unless you know how to stay conscious of your subconscious, whenever you are distracted or overwhelmed, your subconscious will override your conscious mind and run your life.
Jack can stay out of bars as long as he makes a conscious effort to do so. But let him get too tired or angry, he automatically heads for the bar where he feels comfortable and happy.
Second, believe it or not, your subconscious cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not real. So what you believe to be true becomes the truth for you. And you will express it in your body, emotions, mind, and behavior.
Annie is a beautiful girl, but she grew up thinking she was a "plain Jane," She automatically dismisses complements and slouches around feeling ugly and unwanted.
Here's how it works:
- You have an experience.
- You automatically attach meanings--perception filters--to the people, things, or problems related to that experience.
- These filters produce mind images that trigger emotions and physical sensations in your body.
Experience >> Meaning Attached >> Emotion(s)
It's a tidy little package in which what you focus on causes your subconscious mind to bring up meanings that you attach to a person, thing, or problem. These meanings then set off emotions and physical sensations within your body that release hormones into your blood, affecting the chemical firing of neurons in your brain that lead to the same thoughts, emotions, and behavior and reinforce the whole cycle.
It makes sense to stay conscious of your subconscious. Since your brain is always set to either a negative way of perceiving--a negative perception filter--or to a positive way of perceiving, it's a good idea to become conscious of your subconscious. Awareness gives you some choice.
About the Author
Dr. Beth Cujé, therapist and author of the book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be, gives you the chance to explore some of these ideas. Look inside the book at Amazon.com or download its first chapter for FREE. Just click here and get an idea of what the Choice-Cube Method can do for you.