Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pay Attention: Your Unconscious May Be Overruling Your Conscious Choices

Pay Attention: Your Unconscious May Be Overruling Your Conscious Choices

Jim Sniechowski, PhD

Removing Personal Holdbacks - Releasing Powerful Leadership

We'd all like to think that we are good at being rational and that we conduct our lives with deliberate awareness. And why wouldn't we? That's what the professional world rewards---conscious, well thought through, efficient, predictable results. If we can't predict we can't control. If we can't control we can't produce. If we can't produce…well then it's over, right?
But I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Trust Your Gut." How rational is that? On what basis does anyone trust the gut? But gut-trusting is as normal a part of everyday business as is any logically calculated response.
Now there's nothing wrong with calculation. And yet we all know of examples, perhaps many of them, when a trusted gut (and when you trusted your gut) led to a result that was far more effective and far more right than an analytical and objective conclusion could have been.
And yet gut-trusting often can't be explained in a step-wise fashion. It's a matter of trust which is in large part a matter of faith. Not religious faith although there are those who ascribe their gut to a higher power. It's confidence in one's intuition, a hunch, a sixth-sense, an internal awareness or vision that feels connected to the right direction without having the data to prove it or sometimes even argue for it. It's felt to be right. And then turns out to be right.
How does this happen?
This is where the unconscious comes into play.
You've probably heard the analogy that the mind is like an iceberg. Only about 10% of the total iceberg can be seen above the waterline. 90% is below and invisible. However it's that 90% that the ocean currents act on generating the visible behavior above the waterline.
The unconscious dimension of the mind is like that 90%, it's not visible and it never sleeps. For example, have you ever struggled with a problem and then came up with a solution but in thinking about how you got there you weren't able to precisely trace back the exact route your thinking took? But you got there, right?
Underneath the waterline moving currents interact with the underlying structures of the iceberg and drive the visible behaviors. Those structures are the actual causes of what becomes obvious above.
Have you ever been puzzled by something you did you had no intention to do? Afterwards you wonder, "Where did that come from?" The answer is, your unconscious. How? Like the iceberg, 90% of your mind is out of sight and always working. History is chuck full of stories of scientific discoveries, works of art, military leaders whose strategies seemed harebrained but won the day, industrial inventions that seemed to pop out of nowhere---all arising from the unconscious.
Guy Claxton, one of my favorite writers, in his book Hare Brain Tortoise Mind makes the distinction between "know-how" and "knowledge." As you continue reading apply this distinction to yourself.
 Know-how is learned by osmosis. We pick it up best by doing, on the job, sort of breathe it in. It's not abstract but very experiential. We become primarily doers and not merely knowers.
 Know-how is not abstract, in other words looking at what needs to be learned from a distance. You have to be "in it," intimate with the process. Feeling it is essential to this learning.
 Unlike say geometry, know-how is not deduced from a set of first principles. It's picked up along the way. It's muscular in that it becomes part of your body so you end up "just being it."
 And rather than learned systematically, in other words from a set of criteria not personal to you, it is learned idiosyncratically, in other words very personal to you in your timing and style.
My wife Judith Sherven, PhD and I recently began to take lessons in ballroom dancing. She is a much better intuitive dancer than I am. She dances from feeling, from doing, from know-how. I, on the other hand, need to learn and rehearse the steps. Once I've got it, that is once I trust I know what I am doing so I don't have to think about it, I am just as fluid and rhythmic as she is and we dance very well together.
In general Judith learns from below the water line upwards and I from above the water line downwards.
What's your learning style?
The unconscious is involved in everyone's day to day decisions. It's a matter of more or less from person to person. I will write more about the subject of the unconscious in future postings, but for now I return to my title question: The power of the unconscious mind, how does it affect your everyday conscious decisions?
I'd really appreciate it if you would respond with a comment and let me know.
Jim Sniechowski, PhD and his wife Judith Sherven, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people's resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabulous. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing. They are always succeeding. The question is, at what?
Edited by: Lawyer Asad

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