Liminal Thinking: The Key to Unlocking Your Unconscious Mind
The Mind is the Answer
Unconscious: un·con·scious | /ənˈkänSHəs/ noun.
The part of the mind that a person is not aware of but that is a powerful force in controlling behavior.
Conscious: con·scious | /ˈkänSHəs/ adjective.
Aware of something (such as a fact or feeling), knowing that something exists or is happening.
Definitions sourced from Merriam-Webster.
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Conscious or Unconscious Thought?
Your unconscious mind is responsible for your desires. We don’t think about the distinction between our conscious and unconscious thoughts, but that distinction is vital to realizing why we continue to do things we vowed to stop. Studies confirm we have two separate thinking systems—the conscious and unconscious.
The give-and-take between unconscious choices and our rational, conscious goals helps explain why we continue to do things we no longer desire to do.
We are familiar with the conscious (or explicit) mind. Conscious learning is the aware, intellectual grasp of specific knowledge or procedures, which you can memorize and articulate. When we want to change something, we usually start with a conscious decision. There are things we do that are no longer a fully conscious choice in our lives.
When you make a conscious decision to quit smoking, drink less, or adopt a new diet, it’s almost impossible to adhere to that decision, because your larger, more powerful unconscious mind missed the memo.
Unconscious learning happens automatically and unintentionally through experiences, observations, conditioning, and practice. We’re conditioned to believe we enjoy drinking or we need a cigarette. We think it enhances our social life or relieves stress. We believe these things below our conscious awareness. This is why, even after we consciously acknowledge it’s no longer something we want to do, we retain the desire.
The insanity can stop. The key to unlocking the unconscious mind and regaining control of your actions is Liminal Thinking.
Liminal Thinking 101
It’s impossible to notice, experience, or observe everything, so we unconsciously put our experiences and observations through a lens of relevance that is shaped by our needs. From these relevant experiences and observations, we make assumptions, and from those assumptions, we draw conclusions.
Our conclusions form our beliefs. Once we’ve established why you believe what you believe, I will reveal another perspective, one that may be closer to reality. Then, we will submerge beneath the surface of your conscious and deconstruct your beliefs.
Liminal Thinking means deconstructing our current, illogical beliefs and forming new ones based on facts. We’ve led ourselves to believe many things about our vices. We enjoy them, they relax us, etc. In order to unlock the unconscious mind, we need to change those beliefs and embrace new ones.
We’ll use Liminal Thinking to look at a common unwanted habit: drinking. Let’s explore an example of how Liminal Thinking can change your unconscious desire for alcohol. While there are many beliefs that are ingrained in your desire to drink and will need to be overcome, we will deconstruct two.
The Myth of Relaxation
Many believe that alcohol helps us relax. Advertisements show couples sitting on a beach with a drink in hand. “Happy Hour” exists so we can wind down after work. We believe that alcohol can relax us and take away our worries.
What is relaxation? Being completely relaxed means having nothing to worry or annoy you physically or mentally. Can alcohol do this? It doesn’t fix or take away the sources of your annoyances and stressors, it just temporarily dulls them. When the alcohol wears off, the stressors are still there. Even worse, as you continue drinking, you build a tolerance, and your need for it increases as its effect on you decreases. Suddenly, what was supposed to be alleviating your stress is causing it.
Wanting something you shouldn’t have doesn’t relax you; it creates a mental divide inside your mind, which is the very definition of frustration and agitation. It’s the opposite of relaxation.
You achieve relaxation by removing the source of discontent. Alcohol cannot relax you. Alcohol will help numb pain. It actually slows down your brain function—you literally think more slowly. If you drink enough, it will render you unconscious. You don’t feel much when you’re unconscious, but it’s also not very relaxing.
A 2012 study shows that alcohol makes you less capable of dealing with stress and anxiety. Researchers gave mice doses of alcohol for a month, then ran tests to compare the mice that had been drinking with normal mice. The mice were put in stressful situations to measure their reactions. Alcohol rewired the mice’s brains to make them unable to deal with anxiety and stress. Many find this shocking, but if you drink regularly, you probably already know this is true.
Avoiding Temptation and Eliminating Stress
Now you know alcohol does nothing to alleviate stress. You’ve reshaped that belief in your mind and can restructure it to realize that relaxation can be found by talking your stressors out, finding time to take care of yourself, and asking for help. Stress relief isn’t in a bottle; it comes from eliminating the source of stress.
Another reason people often continue drinking is socialization, but you didn’t always need alcohol to hang out with friends. Your experiences over time have led you to believe that a social life involves drinking. Be honest and consider how many people spend time together without alcohol.
Have you ever been the designated driver? Just met a friend for coffee or tea? Take a hard look, and you’ll see that your beliefs might be excuses. To overcome those beliefs, seek out new ways to socialize that are better suited to the “New You” that you’re working on. Meet friends for lunch rather than dinner. Find a workout buddy and spend time exercising instead of drinking. Your brain needs to get the message that socialization is about people, not alcohol — with Liminal Thinking you can train it to do that.
David Gray says, “construction of belief is not something we do consciously, it’s something we do unconsciously.”
To change our unconscious beliefs, we need to bring unconscious experiences, observations, assumptions, and conclusions into conscious thought. This allows your unconscious to change. Expose your beliefs, assumptions, and conclusions and introduce methodical, factual, and rational arguments for you to question and evaluate. Form a new unconscious and reprogram your mind with beliefs based in facts rather than emotions.
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