Did you know that there is a part of your brain which records everything you see and hear? Have you ever noticed that your subconscious can make you physically sick, do things on autopilot, and create dreams whose metaphors could change your life if you were able to interpret them correctly?
Here are fifteen amazing facts about the subconscious mind to make you realize its power, and understand how it works and how you can make it work for you. Without further ado, let’s begin.
1. The subconscious can’t distinguish between reality and imagination
Ever watched a scary scene, then had a hard time falling asleep because you were totally terrified? Logically, that makes no sense: your rational mind knows that a movie isn’t real and can’t harm you in any way, so it shouldn’t affect your emotions in any way.
However, while your conscious mind is indeed able to distinguish between reality and imagination, your subconscious isn’t. Your subconscious mind cannot filter what it sees, hears, or perceives, and cannot determine whether it’s real or fake. Which is one of the main reasons you should avoid negativity at all costs.
2. The subconscious doesn’t understand negation
Similarly, the subconscious mind doesn’t understand words like can’t or don’t, or even words like unhappy or unintelligent. You can think of it as a computer whose programming language allows you to add and create things, but doesn’t allow you to delete things. You could also imagine that the subconscious mind works a bit like an equation where you can’t subtract.
This is actually pretty important because once you know this, you’ll avoid using words or phrases that your mind couldn’t understand or, worse, interpret the wrong way. For example, you should avoid repeating to yourself that you want to be free from, or never experience something again because subconsciously you’ll actually attract that thing; similarly, you want to focus on all the things you do want but forget about those things you don’t want.
3. The subconscious mind is influenced by repetition
We’ve seen how your unconscious can’t really distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake, and how that could be a potential danger to your mental health. However, if you repeatedly expose your subconscious to bad stuff, that’s especially dangerous as repetition influences your mind even more intensely.
The good news is that you can use this principle to condition your subconscious in a good way. For example, if you have the discipline to read or write down your goals every day, eventually your brain will assume what you read is the truth and will help you work toward those goals. If you meditate and visualize a state of happiness every day, your brain will assume you’re naturally a happy person, regardless of what’s going on in your life.
4. Faces we see in dreams actually come from real life
Because your subconscious mind records and remembers everything (more on this in a minute), it is able to use all the information it has stored to create images in your dreams. Interestingly enough, this applies to the people and entities you see in dreams, too.
If it sounds strange, next time you wake up, focus on what you’ve just dreamt, and try to remember who you saw or interacted with in your dream, even if it seems like some kind of unknown entity. Chances are you’ll actually be able to recognize their face — perhaps it was an old friend, a character from a movie you saw ten years ago, or even a past version of yourself.
5. The subconscious mind likes symbols
To convey complex ideas, we can use symbolism in literature, videos, and art in general. But did you know that your subconscious mind uses symbolism as well, and is also exceptionally creative in doing so? The more you learn about the unconscious, the more it looks like it uses its own mysterious language; a language made of symbols that can be both personal (your own) and universal.
This becomes quite obvious in dream interpretation: in dreams, most things you see, including the tiny details, actually symbolize something else. For example, if you dream about your favorite animal, that animal could represent you; if you dream about walking in a garden and you notice that the flowers form a specific pattern, that could represent the environment where you last saw that exact pattern.
We should also be aware that the subconscious mind tends to like and remember certain symbols, images, or shapes — usually, those who trigger intense emotions, both positive and negative — and that those images can be used to grab our attention. So next time you watch an ad or see a logo, don’t be surprised if you see symbols that remind you of smiley faces, spiders, or anything sexual.
6. The subconscious mind can cause physical symptoms or sickness
We all know how mental health issues such as stress and anxiety can affect the body and make us more prone to illnesses (for instance, prolonged periods of stress can cause high levels of cortisol, thus making the immune system weaker), but our mind-body connection can be a lot more complex than that.
The truth is that our subconscious mind can give us hints through physical symptoms, and if we’re able to interpret these symptoms correctly, we can identify what we should and shouldn’t do in our life. For example, stomach pains or headaches may be a sign that we’ve just interacted with an energy vampire, and that we need to cut them off; a tense jaw could indicate suppressed anger; feelings of derealization could mean that you overthink, and so on.
7. All your decisions have already been made
Whether we realize it or not, the vast majority of our decisions happen subconsciously: we think it’s our rational mind making a certain decision, while in reality it’s a complex set of factors such as our personality type, our emotions, the culture we grew up in, our beliefs and views, and our overall identity (who we think we are).
Our conscious mind isn’t necessarily aware of all these things, yet they are the reason we choose the clothes we wear, the people we spend our time with, our career path, and basically everything and anything else. Now, does this mean free will doesn’t exist, and that all our decisions are already set no matter what we do? Definitely not. But we should be aware that most choices we make in life, we actually make with our subconscious mind.
8. The subconscious mind likes silence
Have you ever noticed that some of your greatest and most creative ideas came when you were in a fully relaxed state — for example, right before falling asleep, when it was dark and quiet? When we are in a relaxed state, our brainwaves literally change, and our unconscious becomes more active.
To harness the potential of your subconscious mind, then, you want to experience moments of silence and idleness, in which you don’t work on anything in particular and your mind isn’t bombarded with distractions. By doing so you may feel lazy or unproductive, but you’re actually giving your mind a chance to use some of its mysterious powers.
9. The subconscious mind records everything
When your rational mind forgets something such as a name, a face, or a number, you may think that information is no longer stored in your brain and is forever lost. However, chances are that your subconscious mind still has access to that information and would be able to recall it at will.
As anticipated earlier, this can happen when you’re dreaming: your subconscious mind can use some of the data it has stored as a symbol or metaphor, to represent something else, even if your conscious mind forgot about that particular information years ago. Apparently, this is also possible with hypnosis (the therapist can induce a dream-like state so the patient can remember things they thought had forgotten and which may help them heal from phobias or anxiety).
10. Almost all dreams are manifestations of desires
This concept was first introduced by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, which is still one of the best books on the subject, and definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about how dreams work. In short, Freud proposed that all dreams are expressions of wishes and desires, some of which can only be expressed through symbols as they involve sexuality or violence and would therefore get “censored” by the super-ego.
Not only that: Freud argued that our nightmares — dreams in which we experience intense anxiety, or any other negative emotions or feelings — are also expressions of desires. This, again, has to do with the meaning of the dream, and what they represent to us. So for example, if you dream about being late to work, that would still be the manifestation of a wish regardless of how that makes you feel.
The Interpretation of Dreams was published over a hundred years ago, and since then some of Freud’s theories, including this one, have been criticized. However, we can still say that the vast majority of what we dream does represent a desire, even if unconscious or repressed, and the examples mentioned in the book (Freud writes about the actual dreams of his patients as well as his interpretation and explanation) definitely make sense.
11. Your subconscious makes you do things on autopilot
Have you ever noticed that most of the things you do, you do on autopilot? Some would say this is as much as 99 percent of what we do, from the second we wake up until the moment we close our eyes and prepare to fall asleep.
Depending on how you view it, it could sound completely normal or a bit scary. But it is undoubtedly very efficient: imagine having to consciously think about everything we do on a daily basis, including walking or eating our meals — that would literally drive us crazy. Instead, we do these things on autopilot thanks to our subconscious mind.
12. The subconscious mind is probably more powerful than we think
Through studies, scientists and psychologists have officially proven that our subconscious mind has an incredible memory, and can do some pretty amazing things such as healing our body or making it sick depending on what it believes (for instance, in the placebo effect).
However, some of its powers are still very mysterious and cannot be explained scientifically. Think of intuition, gut feelings, premonition, telepathy, or precognitive dreams. Some say the subconscious can remember our past lives, or even receive messages from God or the universe. You may not believe some of these theories, but regardless, the subconscious mind is probably more powerful than you think.
13. Your subconscious mind can make you lazy
I think this is one of the funniest facts, and I’m pretty sure you have already experienced it. The subconscious mind can be quite lazy, and can change your physical state when it believes a task is boring or unexciting.
Let’s say you have to study for a couple hours, and as you open the book or turn on your laptop, you start yawning. Or, let’s say there’s an important meeting on Friday, and on Thursday night you start to feel sick, even though you’re not ill, and decide to stay at home the following day.
These could be coincidences, but when it happens more than once, or with absolutely perfect timing, it’s definitely your subconscious mind being lazy (or trying to protect your mental health and make you avoid unnecessary stress, in which case you should be grateful for it).
14. You can become better at something just by thinking about it
A few decades ago, sports psychologist Judd Biasiotto conducted a study to find out whether the power of visualization actually improves performance. In the study, undergraduate basketball students were split into three groups. The first group was told to do nothing; the second group was told to practice free throws every day for an hour; the third group was told to simply visualize themselves making free throws.
Surprisingly, after one month both the second and the third group improved their scores, with very similar results (24 percent and 23 percent). This means, then, that we can indeed become better at something by using the power of visualization and letting our subconscious mind do most of the work. Pretty incredible.
15. The subconscious mind has no days off
The last fact about the subconscious mind is that it’s a bit of a workaholic: it works 24/7, with no holidays or days off. When we fall asleep, or when we are in a relaxed state, our conscious mind can finally take a break, but the subconscious will still make plans for the future, reflect on what we’ve done so far, remind us of what needs to be done, and so on.
This is why it’s crucial that you become clear about your priorities and dreams in life: once you give your subconscious mind instructions, it will work 24/7 in order to achieve your goal (whether you realize it or not, and whether it takes it a day or ten years). If you are clear about what you want, your subconscious mind will be your best ally.
What amazes you the most about the subconscious mind? Let me know by leaving a comment! 👇