Picture this: It’s January 1st, you’re sitting on your meditation pillow in lotus pose (or, you know, half lotus), oracle card deck spread out before you, a couple of crystals thrown in for good measure, and, most importantly, your brand new Moleskine ready to collect your goals and intentions for the year ahead.

Because, just in case the universe didn’t get the memo, this year is going to be your year.

This robe-clad sheet-masked version of you, fervently journaling away planning out the year ahead, is you in full on conscious mind mode. You’re engaging the part of your brain that is responsible for desires, plans, and willpower. It’s that same part of your brain that acts based on logic and reason. Of course it makes sense to eat in roughly five times a week and not just save on meals but also focus on healthy, nutritious home cooking. It is also much more than reasonable to start budgeting properly, no question about it.

Whatever your desires — the financial abundance, the regular meditation practice, the fulfilling romantic relationship — they are formed in your conscious mind.

But here’s the rub: That same conscious mind that is such a helpful ally in dreaming up your ideal life only governs your behavior a measly 5% of the time. That, as I am sure we will all agree, ain’t a whole lot.

So which part of you is driving your actions the other 95% of the time, while your conscious mind is chilling in the passenger seat?

Meet your subconscious. 

Your subconscious mind comprises the experiences, associations, and observations you were repeatedly exposed to during your early years (roughly until age seven).

During that time, children are in a highly programmable state in which they internalize outside programming — in the form of modeled behavior — at a rapid speed. The behaviors they see role models and caregivers exhibit leave an imprint on the subconscious, leading to one’s own unique blueprint of beliefs and behavioral patterns based on these early childhood experiences. 

Of course parental figures are mostly governed by their own subconscious minds and therefore often act based on the beliefs they internalized when they were children themselves, which is how family patterning gets passed on from one generation to the next. Take a minute to think about it: What patterns keep repeating themselves in your family around big topics like success, wealth, love, worth, and wellbeing? What is your parent’s mindset around money or personal fulfillment? Would you say you are operating from a similar mindset?

While the programming is mostly solidified by age seven, these downloads continue to have a massive impact well into adulthood as we keep playing out what we observed during our early years. Because we spend so much time being driven by our subconscious, we operate from a non-self chosen system of beliefs and programs much more often than we act based on what we consciously decide is correct for us.

If we grew up being told that life is a perpetual struggle, that money is the root of all evil, or that romantic relationships only ever lead to grief and heartbreak, we are likely to carry these impressions with us as we age in the form of programming or subconscious blocks.

Now back to you slurping your Saffron Latte, listening to your chill mornings playlist on Spotify, and finalizing your game plan for 2020. Instead of merely focusing on what you want to create, ask yourself: What beliefs have I picked up around this topic? What do I subconsciously believe is possible for me in this area of my life? What patterns can I make out in my own behavior when it comes to this topic that may give me a broader understanding of the programming I have received?

Based on the sheer difference in bandwidth between the two minds, banking on our conscious mind’s prowess to get us to where we wish to go is not just ineffective, it also keeps us stuck in a loop. We may make some headway, but as soon as we go back into autopilot mode when the subconscious takes over, we will likely find ourselves right back where our programming dictates.

So here’s the good news: Subconscious narratives can be rewritten. Minds can be reprogrammed. (This would literally be the most depressing article ever if they couldn’t, eh?) Programming can be changed even in adulthood. A simple way to go about making big shifts in your romantic, professional, or personal life, is to work on transforming your subconscious blocks so that your beliefs about what is attainable and possible for you will eventually be aligned with what you already know you consciously desire — regardless of what the original beliefs you inherited may have entailed. Because, honestly, struggle bus-ing it is so old paradigm, am I right?

Nadia Gabrielle helps clients overcome their limiting beliefs and perceptions of stress and trauma by circumventing the conscious mind and directly addressing the subconscious where these programs are stored. Nadia speaks seven languages (eight, if you count the sophisticated language of memes) and works digitally with people from around the world. When she’s not with clients, she is most likely baking a decadent cake, reading a murder-y novel, or looking up her various crushes’ astro charts. You can find her at nadiagabrielle.com and at @_nadiagabrielle on the ‘gram. 

In Your Inbox