Ask the expert: What is the subconscious?

Conscious, subconscious, unconscious… have you ever heard these terms being bandied about but not been entirely sure what they mean? If you’re nodding, you’re not alone. Learning more about these parts of ourselves can help us understand our mind better and what influences it.

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To find out what these terms mean and how hypnotherapy interacts with them, we sit down with cognitive hypnotherapist Adrian Jackson.

What is the subconscious?

To start with, can you tell us what the conscious mind is?

The conscious mind is the analytical, logical and rational part of the human brain. It helps us make deliberate decisions, houses our short-term memory and monitors our present environment. It operates with linear logic, making sense of data and facts through reasoning and deduction, allowing us to respond immediately to any given situation. In fact, it’s the part of the brain reading these very words!

We use this logical thinking when engaging in problem-solving tasks such as organising our day or making sense of the world around us.

However, when it is left to run the show it may backfire and begin to overthink and over analyse. This is usually a sign that we are not engaging with our emotions in a healthy way, which paradoxically causes heightened states of anxiety and stress.

Thankfully, we can use the deeper levels of our minds to bring things back into equilibrium.

What is the unconscious and subconscious mind?

The subconscious mind lies below our conscious awareness. Its job is to regulate our emotions and short-term memories.

When doing this successfully, the subconscious mind protects us from danger. It warns us of potential harm by triggering our fight or flight response to help us respond quickly to any perceived threats (usually by running away!).

The unconscious mind, however, is the deepest and least accessible part of our mind. It is the repository of our most primitive instincts and emotional drives.

The unconscious accommodates memories and experiences that have been repressed or forgotten, but which still influence our daily behaviour and emotional states. These may include traumatic experiences, fears, and anxieties – the things we would rather not think about consciously.

Sometimes it is necessary to explore these deeper levels of the mind in order to resolve hidden conflicts that may be preventing us from living how we would like.

How does hypnotherapy impact our unconscious/subconscious?

During hypnotherapy, the therapist guides the client into a trance-like state, which, simply put, is a state of deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility.

In this state, the client is more receptive to suggestions and can access the unconscious or subconscious mind more easily. This can be helpful in identifying and releasing negative emotions and patterns of thinking that may be deeply ingrained and difficult to access through traditional talk therapy.

By accessing and addressing these underlying issues, hypnotherapy can facilitate healing and promote positive change by replacing negative patterns with positive ones.

Overall, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for accessing and impacting the unconscious or subconscious mind, allowing for deeper healing and personal transformation.

What kind of problems/concerns can benefit from working with the unconscious/subconscious?

There really is no limit to the psychological issues that can be addressed by working with the subconscious/unconscious mind. Accessing these parts of ourselves can help reveal underlying psychological factors contributing to these issues or uncover unmet needs that need to be addressed.

Hypnotherapy, in particular, can be used to address a number of issues, including:

  • anxiety and stress
  • depression
  • trauma and PTSD
  • phobias and fears
  • addictions
  • self-esteem

Working through mental blocks or repressed negative emotions can give us clarity on how best to proceed towards healthy change, which will lead to better-coping strategies and beneficial perspectives when faced with life’s inevitable challenges.

When used in collaboration, the conscious, subconscious and unconscious minds can be thought of as an orchestra of psychic and emotional well-being. By resolving inner conflict at all levels we can conduct our lives like a symphony, and learn to live with a more harmonious flow.

This article was originally published in Happiful Magazine (Issue 74 2023). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Hypnotherapy Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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