You swipe right on that cutie on Bumble and start talking. They seem clever and kind, you two have a good GIF-to-word ratio going, and before long, you agree to meet.
Things are going great. You’ve got love chemicals surging through your system. They are exactly what you were looking for — so funny and understanding and down-to-earth. It’s exciting. It’s kismet.
Fast-forward a few months: The two of you are having an argument about something that wasn’t all that important in the first place, but you find yourself being disproportionately reactive. You might become overly defensive or you might be lashing out at them, or maybe you retreat and shut down completely.
They seem different. If you are to be completely honest, you are different, too. So… what happened?
In every relationship between two individuals, each person has both their conscious and their subconscious mind entangling with the other. When we enter a new situation such as a budding relationship, our conscious minds are highly engaged. There are cute and witty texts to come up with and long, philosophical conversations to be had. Navigating this new territory, we are fully present in the moment. Where else would we be?
The conscious mind is where all our wishes, goals, and desires are formed. It’s where we daydream and think about the future. We are on our best behavior when operating from the conscious mind, because, well… we’re conscious.
We get to make deliberate decisions about how we act and react, what we say, and what we keep to ourselves. We get to be gracious, respectful, and oh-so-mindful. We get to be the person we said we were in our Bumble profile.
However, the way things are set up, our conscious minds are not meant to be in charge at all times. We simply cannot operate from the conscious realm all day. Instead, only 5% of our behavior is conscious, whereas 95% of our behavior is driven by our subconscious.
After an initial phase of newness, intrigue gives way to habit and the conscious mind becomes less engaged. The subconscious mind takes over, seemingly out to destroy the good thing you had going on.
As we fall back into autopilot mode, our subconscious programming rises to the surface. Unlike our conscious minds’ wishes, aspirations, and desires, our subconscious beliefs are not self-chosen. Instead, they are formed based on the messaging we received and internalized in childhood.
Depending on the role models and experiences we had in those formative years, we created strategies that inform the way we show up in the world to this present day. As children, our needs were straightforward: to be loved, to be safe, to survive. Whichever behavior was the surest to guarantee we’d get our needs met was the one most likely to be implemented over and over. Over time, what gets reinforced gets strengthened.
But here’s the deal: The strategies we developed in childhood to adapt and survive are not necessarily serving us in our adult lives.
In relationships, when we find ourselves easily triggered by objectively minor things, that is a good indication that the habitual — the subconscious — mind has taken over, as it eventually will. With that comes a number of behavioral patterns that we play out over and over as we re-stage and re-orchestrate the dynamics we’ve found ourselves in as children that, to this day, feel the most familiar and, therefore, safe to us. Then, when both partners respond from subconscious programming and old, never realized inner child wounds, it gets increasingly difficult to switch gears and use those perfectly rational, understanding, and conscious minds in conversation.
When deep-seated beliefs such as “I can’t be loved for who I really am” rise to the surface, no conscious reasoning will make a difference. We’re simply not acting from the same place we filled out our dating profile from, but rather reacting from an unhealed wound or traumatic experience stored deep in the subconscious. (Dating profiles filled in by our subconscious would be a bit of a shit show, tbh.) And don’t get me started on the epigenetically inherited transgenerational trauma we haven’t even personally experienced, ones that just may be wreaking havoc in our entire lives via our epigenome. Like, can a mindful single gal catch a break?
What to do? Firstly, begin by noticing the patterning. What type of language are you using when you talk to your friends about your romantic life?
Statements like “I always attract unavailable people” or “It’s always the same; as soon as we get too close, I lose interest” are helpful sign posts on your path towards uncovering your unique programming when it comes to relating.
However, it’s important not to stop there. As a result of the years we’ve spent subconsciously reinforcing these patterns, the neural pathways dictating our autopilot behavior will be strong and almost impossible to override using mere mindfulness and good intentions to “do better.” All intentional behavior stems from the conscious mind and that part of us simply has no access to — or control — over what the subconscious is up to.
Instead, working directly on the subconscious — where these beliefs, wounds, and patterns are stored — to align the programming with what it is that we consciously desire, we are able to create a whole new reality for ourselves and a new narrative for the way we relate to others going forward.
Nadia Gabrielle helps people identify and reprogram their limiting beliefs and unhealed inner child wounds so they can do life, love, and business from a place of ease. You can find her at nadiagabrielle.com or on the ‘gram.