What is the Unconscious Mind?

We talk a lot about the unconscious mind in hypnotherapy and how important it can be for changing beliefs and behaviours.

It can encourage a lot of change but this can be hard to understand if you’re not aware of how the unconscious mind works.

So, what exactly is the unconscious mind and why does it have the power to do this?

The Conscious Mind

Before we look at how the unconscious mind works, it helps to understand the conscious mind first of all.

The conscious mind refers to the thoughts that we are aware of. This is the part of your mind that makes decisions, weighs things up and makes judgement calls. You may think that this accounts for most of the thoughts and emotions we have but it’s actually the opposite.

There is limited capacity for storing things in the conscious mind and the rest is filtered into the unconscious part. It has to make decisions as to what information stays and what is sent elsewhere and as you’ll see in the next section, this is sometimes deliberate.

The conscious mind is often likened to an iceberg in that the things we are consciously aware of are vastly outnumbered by the things outside of this. If you think of the small part of an iceberg that is visible above the water compared to the much larger mass underneath that isn’t clear to see, this is the situation with the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.

The Unconscious Mind

The emotions thoughts and memories stored in the unconscious mind aren’t known to us unless they’re brought into the conscious mind.

The theory is that this is because they have been automatically repressed and rejected from the conscious mind because of their potential for causing a lot of pain, anxiety and other negative emotions.

These beliefs and fears may not be something we can control or are even aware of but they can have a big effect on our lives. While they remain in the unconscious mind, there isn’t an opportunity to choose how you can respond to them.

Clients come to hypnotherapy sessions wanting to change things about their life, whether this be negative emotions such as anxiety and depression or unhelpful behaviours such as addiction, eating disorders and phobias.

Whatever the issue, it is usually heavily influenced by the unconscious mind and emotions and beliefs that are lurking there, all of which can be accessed through hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy and Accessing the Unconscious Mind

Hypnotherapy can help you to unlock the unconscious mind and bring previously hidden aspects of your mind into the forefront so you have the chance to choose how you react to thoughts, emotions, fears and memories that have been influencing how you behave.

How does it do this? The secret is in the ultra relaxed state that is associated with hypnosis. This bypasses the conscious mind and allows direct contact with the unconscious mind. The conscious mind is still active and alert throughout and is in resting mode.

Once the unconscious mind is accessed, it offers an opportunity to work on the beliefs, attitudes and thoughts that are thrown up through tools like suggestion, visualisation and imagery. Whereas the conscious part of your mind may try to counter these, the unconscious mind is a lot more receptive to them.