In Part 1, we talked about how the conscious mind interacts with the subconscious and we also talked about the difference between happiness and joy. If you haven’t read it, do that thing. Here’s the gist: The subconscious and the conscious communicate together constantly but don’t actually speak the same language. As a result, messages sent to your subconscious sometimes lose important context and get distorted. Then your subconscious applies it and then sends it back up to your conscious mind as “gut feelings” and emotions, all jumbled and applied sometimes unhelpfully to situations that would be better dealt with differently. This effectively, creates a negative feedback loop. Here are four tried and true habits to break free of this loop that work like magic (wink, wink).
Start actively building yourself and others up. Recognize your own accomplishments as well as that of others. Be verbal about it. Tell people what you like about them. Tell yourself what you like about you. Your success doesn’t hinge on someone else’s downfall. Nor is their success a reflection of your perceived failure. These are just perspectives, which are arguably incomplete at best. Even what you honestly meant as constructive criticism, may just be a negative perception in disguise. Always stay alert when someone says, “Wouldn’t it better if you knew?” Would it really? What does better look like to you? What does better feel like? Is the criticism in line with that? Build yourself and others up so that your defenses aren’t weak and a crumbly.
Embedded commands are powerful little ideas that your subconscious internalizes when you speak them aloud, and even sometimes, just when you think them! For example, if you tell me, “Don’t be negative!”, both your subconscious and mine will actually hear “be negative!” because “don’t” is ambiguous to the subconscious language. Instead, you could say, “Be positive!” Replacing negative commands with positive, active ones sends little direct messages to your subconscious that, with repetition, will filter how you interpret experiences in the moment in a much more positive light. This is a tactic common in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) if you’re interested in falling down the rabbit hole of internet searches.
Your dreams are a form of communication between your conscious and your subconscious, relaying important information about themes, people, events… that are impacting your conscious choices, thoughts, and feelings. However, our conscious and unconscious don’t really speak the same language. Because of this barrier, our subconscious relays these messages by way of iconography that it thinks is most easily understood by your conscious. The subconscious uses repeated iconography for certain ideas. Even the most ridiculous dreams can hold clues to what your subconscious thinks you need to tackle consciously. This exercise in dream interpretation can be a useful tool for finding out what’s really driving your experience of life. The more consistent you are about jotting down your dreams, the better you will be at deciphering even the most seemingly redonkulous ones.
If you aren’t used to editing your language on your toes or remembering your dreams, there’s one very simple way to filter out the muck traveling between your conscious and subconscious, and you’ll find that after a few weeks your language and even your dreams, will begin to change on their own.
So here’s the trick (or treat?): Every time you catch yourself having a negative or worrisome thought or emotion, think of at least two positive aspects to whatever is bothering you instead. One to counter the negative thought, and one to set your mind on the right track.
A fantastic way to keep these good thoughts present in the beginning, is to write them down in a little notebook. If you have a negative thought about someone, write down two things you like about them. If you have a negative thought about an experience, write down two things you learned from it that make you a better person. If you have a negative thought about the family taking up the entire aisle in front of you at the grocery store, write down two good things about your own family. Because fuck those assholes. Point is, it doesn’t really matter what you write. As long as it is positive, it’ll do the trick. By the way, this gratitude app makes it stupid easy.
Remember, what we put into our minds reflects what comes out. Eventually, you’ll find that countering negativity becomes habit, and you won’t need to be mindful of the strategies as frequently. Your thoughts will support you, rather than vice versa. And when you get to that point, you’ll know it.