A large part of what I do as a coach is to listen very closely to the language and words people use when they speak. The importance of this is that our words are an outward illustration of our inner thoughts, dialogues and images we carry in our unconscious, that in turn shape our feelings, attitudes and behaviour. I believe that there is a constant reciprocal relationship that flows between our conscious and unconscious minds - we consciously think a thought that forms our speech and corresponding mental picture, that picture is sent to the unconscious, is stored there and becomes the template or foundation for future actions, feelings or thoughts.
Awareness of this is critical when trying to initiate some kind of positive change. If we engage in a negative view of ourselves or our life situations, it creates a negative picture in our minds - almost like an internal movie screen that is playing over and over again in our conscious and unconscious. The problem is that on some level, we start buying in to these pictures and forming our actions and responses in alignment with what we are seeing. For example, let's say that a person is looking for a new job, but is internalizing negative messages about the likelihood of finding that job. The conscious thought might be something like " I am not going to find a new job - it is too hard right now in this market." Once this thought is formed and/or stated, a mental picture enters the unconscious, becoming the image the person carries around that then influences their beliefs, attitudes and actions. So following the same job search example, when thinking of writing cover letters or sending out applications, this picture is still there unconsciously, and starts to affect the energy and motivation the person exerts to the extent that it might even dissuade them from writing that letter or application that day e.g. " If I am not going to find a job, why should I bother trying?", and there begins the downward spiral.
So ok, I am not saying that if you just "think positively" everything will work out and it is the magic solution to your problems and challenges, but I am saying that by making an effort to form our thoughts and speech more constructively we send a message to the unconscious mechanisms that drive our thoughts and behaviours that then support and align with a positive outcome.
Now, you might be feeling skeptical about the degree to which we can control our unconscious minds and so I want to share a story from my own life that may help illustrate this as, at least, a possibility. My 6 year old son, has a very active dream life, but has unfortunately been plagued by nightmares almost every night for the past few years. A couple of months ago, he was crying before bed, telling me that he was afraid to go to sleep, because he knew that he would have a bad dream. I told him that I had a very special trick he could try that would help and that by using this trick, he could control whether or not he had a bad dream. The trick went like this: I asked him to think of a picture or image of something that was not scary and that made him very happy (he picked a rainbow - so cute) and right before bed, to imagine that this happy picture was floating right above his head. When he could see or feel it there, I asked him then to imagine that the top of his head gently opened up and that the happy picture came down and filled up his mind and that by doing this, there was no longer any more room for bad or scary dreams. He took this very seriously, and said he would have to go into the bathroom and look in the mirror so he could watch himself bring the image down into his head - I said "OK, if that works for you, why not". We had success right from the very first night, bringing us to the present where every night, as part of his bedtime routine, he goes and does what he calls his "Rainbow Thinking" in the bathroom. I am not allowed to watch this ritual, however, from what I hear from outside the door, it's possible that there might be some kind of a dance move involved too - whatever helps I suppose. I am happy to report that there has not been a bad dream in over two months, except for the one night when he said he forgot to do his routine.
The point of this story is that I believe by consciously implanting a more happy thought in his mind, and believing that it would work, my son was able to change the focus and direction his unconscious mind was habitually prone to resulting in a positive outcome for him and a feeling of greater control and resourcefulness - if a six year old can do it then I think we can too with a little conscious effort and willingness to suspend disbelief.
I invite you to start listening to yourself for the words you use and the thoughts you think - what messages are you sending to your own unconscious and how are these messages manifesting in your outward life? If the answer isn't a good one, start training your two minds to think better thoughts that support where you want to be - you never know, a rainbow might appear in your unconscious when you least expect it.
Tara Enns (ACC) is a professional life coach and a credentialed member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), who owns and operates Solution Pathways, her private coaching and personal development practice. As a coach, Tara is passionate about connecting people with their inner brilliance...