“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.” – Sigmund Freud
Your mind is like an iceberg. What you see on the surface only represents a small part of the whole.
The conscious mind, where your thoughts and choices show up, makes about 5% of your decisions. The real decision-making happens in your subconscious mind, which is responsible for up to 95% of your actions.
In order to change our personality, we must harness our subconscious. When we’re trying to go in one direction but our subconscious wants to go in another, the subconscious usually wins.
Most of our emotional reactions come from our subconscious. It determines our identity – the way we see ourselves. What matters is that we consciously choose our identity instead of letting it be chosen for us by outside influences, like our parents and culture.
Our identity can hold us back or propel us forward in life. By aligning our consciously chosen identity with our subconscious one, we can make exponentially more progress.
“If you don’t change your subconscious, then altering your personality will be difficult. If you change your subconscious, then altering your personality happens automatically.” – Benjamin Hardy
In this article, I share three ways to harness your subconscious in order to change your personality.
1. Rewrite Your Past Stories
“The more intentional you get about your life, the more you become the author of the story. You shape the meaning of your past. You also shape the meaning of current and future experiences in order to have the story you want for your past.” – Benjamin Hardy
Human beings communicate best with stories, and that includes the story of our lives. We tend to think in narratives. One of the best ways of changing your identity is changing your past story. For a detailed step-by-step process, check out Rewriting The Story of Your Life at The Emotion Machine.
Each time you recall a memory, it changes. Your memories are rewritten based on your current emotional state. By taking a look at your past experiences when you’re in a powerful state, you can change their emotional resonance. They will no longer elicit a painful emotional response once ‘defused’ in this way.
Reframing is another powerful technique for changing the way you feel about challenging life events. There are countless ways to look at any event. You can train yourself to look at the ‘bad’ things that happen to you and only see the good that results from them. Eventually, you’ll be able to do this at the moment it’s happening.
Here’s the secret of life. Everything happens for you, not to you. – Byron Katie
When you shift your story, you see new possibilities for yourself. You’re no longer the victim of what happened. Instead, you’re the shaper of the meaning of your own experience. Your past is a meaning, a story, which you reconstruct and design here and now. – Benjamin Hardy
2. Create Your Future Vision
“Your vision needs to be something that is way above your current reality. It needs to inspire and excite you. It needs to give you motivation and hope. It needs to be something that will stretch and change you. It needs to be big enough that when you look back, you’ll be shocked by where and who you currently are.“ – Benjamin Hardy
The next step is to imagine an inspiring future for yourself. By visualizing your future, you set the best possible goals for your life. You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
Holding onto our old identity while taking new actions causes us to subconsciously sabotage ourselves. By writing our future vision, we establish a new identity. In every moment, we are creating our future selves.
“The vision should focus on your one major goal, which if you achieve will make your future self and everything else you want in your life possible.” – Benjamin Hardy
3. Use Forcing Functions
“Forcing functions put you in a situation where the only option is the desired option. You’ve designed the situation to force you in the direction you want…Implementing forcing functions into your life ensures that you’re constantly moving in a desired direction, often against your own resistance.” – Benjamin Hardy
Forcing Functions are one of the most powerful ways of achieving difficult goals. They are self-created situations that force you to perform at your best or experience major consequences.
These are some Forcing Functions:
- Signing up to give a speech you’re not prepared for
- Investing a significant amount of money upfront
- Agreeing to do something you don’t yet know how to do
- Telling friends and family about a goal repeatedly
Facing down new challenges can be incredibly psychologically painful. Forcing Functions leave no option to quit. Using them, you overcome procrastination and make faster progress toward your goal.
I even used a Forcing Function to start this website. For months before it got any traction, I kept telling friends and family about it. Even when I doubted I would ever get it started, I kept telling them. By repeating it consistently, I had no choice but to keep moving forward.
“Forcing functions require the highest level of focus and engagement—the goal is psychological flow and high performance. The situations of your life should be designed and engineered such that you are completely absorbed in what you’re doing. You want to be required to produce your absolute best work, because if you don’t, the consequences will be costly.” – Benjamin Hardy
Using these methods, you can harness your subconscious to work for you instead of against you. Knowing how to guide your subconscious is essential to getting the results you want in life.
- Rewrite Your Past Stories
- Create Your Future Vision
- Use Forcing Functions
If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend reading Personality Isn’t Permanent by Benjamin Hardy. He goes into more detail on each of these methods.
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