The Subconscious: Our Best Friend and Greatest Enemy

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I’m certain that you’re familiar with the ever-present internal monologue and, if you’re not, then that’s a separate discussion entirely and I’d love to hear your secret…

I am a chatter-box both externally and internally. Through my yoga practice, however, I have begun to embrace a quieter state of existence. I find myself wanting to speak less, actually thinking before I speak (how hard is THAT one?!) and even pausing my internal monologue mid-thought. I read an article on MindBodyGreen last week (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4169/5-Warning-Signs-That-You-Should-Stop-Talking.html) that I’ve not since stopped thinking about. It actually had a profound effect on me. I’ve noticed that every time I want to say something but precede the words with slanted darting eyes, and a vast change in body language (surely to be followed by a hushed voice), that I had probably better keep quiet. Not only for the sake of others, but for my own sake. It causes internal stress, both mentally and physically, to try and hurriedly utter a thought that one knows one ought not be uttering. 

Perhaps all of the deep breathing and meditation has really affected my mentality as well because, quite often now, I find myself quieting my mind when harsh thoughts begin to surface. When my internal monologue turns snarky and beings to cruelly berate a perfect stranger for the terse manner in which they treated me, I have found myself stopping that train of thought and derailing it entirely. I feel as though I’ve found the key to unlocking positivity (do not fear, I’ve not turned this piece into a “tooting my own horn” soliloquy), but the key is slippery. It’s hard to hold onto. It’s small and can easily slip through the fingers of a loose grip.

I think that part of this whole “I’ve found the key” feeling comes from the profoundly inspirational message that meditation and mindset need not be devoid of thought entirely. The concept of the “stream of consciousness” resonates with me in that the stream will indeed have thoughts bobbing in it, and it is up to us whether we observe the thoughts as they float by, or reach in and pluck one out. Stillness versus silence. 

When I say our subconscious can be our best friend or our worst enemy, I am referring to “the choice.” The choice is different for each of us in that our subconscious is suited to our own life, experiences and pre-disposition. A universal choice, however, is to opt for positivity over negativity. We will all have our negative moments, this is a truth. Without the negative moments, the positive moments would not be as recognizable, I believe. I simply strive in my own life to fill the overwhelming majority of my thoughts will a positive filter.

By stopping myself from unfairly chiding a perfect stranger, I am making myself all the more able to abstain from chiding my own Self unfairly. Cue the subconscious in the role of “best friend…” Similarly, if I were to not stop that harmful thought pattern, I would be less likely to stop it when it’s directed towards my own behaviors or experiences. The concept of positivity and kindness is truly cyclical. It’s an attitude of change. By calming our mind towards the world, towards others and towards the Self, we are setting off a chain reaction.

Be kind with the subconscious. Would you tell a friend, “Shut up, stop talking, I don’t want to hear that.” Probably not. You’d probably find a more tactful and peaceful way to verbalize such feelings. So let’s give our minds and our internal monologues similar respect. “This is not a positive thought process. It’s unfair. It’s as detrimental to my own energy as it is detrimental to the subject of these thoughts.”

My mom always tells me that continuing to harp on something keeps it alive. If you’re angry at yourself, let it go, rather than continuing to play it over and over in your mind. If someone rubs you the wrong way, try to acknowledge your conscious reaction and urge the subconscious to not keep this experience alive by analyzing, repeating and obsessing over it. It’s the same in verbal conversations. I am guilty of always wanting to retell, re-analyze and relive experience, particularly those of a stressful nature, with the hope that it will “put to rest” the experience. Au contraire!

There is no final lesson to share with you, nor is there a right or wrong way to deal with the fragile feelings of the internal monologue. I simply suggest that we all embrace a respectful, observant approach when it comes to the thoughts that bounce around within our minds all day (and sometimes night) long. We are the captains of our ships, we steer these vessels, and with a thrashing mind comes thrashing waters. We will benefit ourselves, others, and our precious mindset by seeking out stillness, the occasional silence, and unending Self-love.

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