by Glen Ford
The intent here is to use the video recorder as an analogy to express the workings of subconsciousness. The subconscious mind is the production company for my time upon the stage of life. It is the servomechanism of conduct and behavior in much the same way as the autonomic nervous system regulates bodily functions. The autonomic nervous system takes care of breathing, heart rate, and the like. I do not have to remember to take a breath, contract my heart or tell my pancreas to make some insulin or any other of the myriad of bodily functions. If I did, I would never get anything else done. I would likely mess something up and not live very long. These types of functions are taken care of on automatic pilot. In fact, I have very little self-conscious control of these. Sure I can hold my breath. If I possessed exceptionally strong use of will, I could hold my breath until I passed out. When I did, the autonomic nervous system is there to rescue me from my folly. It is hardwired into the system.
The subconscious is like software for the behavior of my system. It is shaped by nature and nurture. Some of the software is rigidly preprogramed by nature. It is genetic, instinctual. For example, a newborn baby does not need to be taught to suckle. That behavior is already programmed in. Put something against the baby’s lips and the child suckles. This is instinctual. Much of subconscious behavior however is dynamic and malleable. It can be nurtured. It is constantly being cultivated by thoughts and actions. It has been at least since birth. These kinds of behaviors are learned. Here intellect and emotion are the drivers. All through my life the process continues. The program is altered by experiences, thoughts and emotions, (pleasure/pain, risk/reward, love/fear, nurture/neglect).
In my earlier years, I did not have much say in what nurturing I received. Those decisions were made by the adults I encountered, my parents, teachers, etc. There was a transition period though high school and college where my peer groups had sway. These all can still have some effect but I am the adult now! Now my self-conscious awareness allows me to select the curriculum as I proceed if I choose to do so. The subconscious mind is the repository for all experiences and is the servomechanism for much of behavior. It is always running in the background, quietly and proficiently creating for me what I think I want; good, bad or indifferent. What I think about all day long expands in my life.
There is a record button, but for the purpose of this analogy it is stuck in the record mode regardless of any other buttons being pushed. The subconscious is always running in the background. Subconscious records everything, and builds human proclivities from the data input, again good bad or indifferent.
There is a play button, this is the usual mode of operation for most of my daily life. This is the playing out of activities and relationships with family, friends, colleagues and adversaries at home, at work, or out and about in the community. It seems as if it is all brand new, but much of my reactions to situations is scripted in the subconscious by previous experiences and what I have told subconscious in repeatedly in the past.
There is a pause button. A good practice is to pause each morning and occasionally throughout the day. Freeze time for a few moments to reflect on what I am doing and why I am doing it and consider the consequences of the actions I am about to take. What am I telling subconscious? Assess how it is going and make adjustments as needed. This is a very difficult sticking point for me. It is a work in progress.
There is a rewind button. At the end of the day I have the option to rewind and review the events and reactions that transpired. I can ask myself: How did the day go? Was it what I intended when I started out in this morning? If the answer is yes, then okay. If the answer is no, then was it better or worse? I have an opportunity to plan adjustments or corrections going forward. I also have the ability to build on any successes. If I pass this opportunity, it will be business as usual. This is also a struggle for me. Journaling is a help. When I write thoughts down then read them out loud, they sound very different from when they were rattling around in my head. Also, when I record the events of the day for my self-conscious I have tangible metrics to review and identify problems and measure my progress toward solution. This also is a work in progress.
There is a rapid rewind button. I can go back in memory and ask where this behavior came from? What was my reaction at the time? Is it still appropriate? How is that working out for me now? I have chronic behavioral issues that stem from way back. The first step to correction is becoming aware. The memories may not be clear or may be unavailable for the moment to self-conscious recall. The subconscious running in the background remembers all and is well scripted by parents, teachers, our previous experiences. The problem is accessing those memories. This back story is crucial in rewriting the script and improving reactions and outcomes. I cannot do it alone; dialogs are needed with family members, trusted friends or a spiritual mentor. For deep-seated problematic issues, I have had to overcome my fear of stigma in seeking psychological assistance by coming to the realization that the real stigma lies in not have the courage to do so. It has proven very helpful in bringing distant events that have been effecting my behavior into self-conscious awareness. Now I have the opportunity deal with the issues rather than just continuing the reactive behaviors they produce. Awareness is required first. I cannot mitigate let alone fix a problem I do not recognize. It is not possible to be rid of old crap but I can acknowledge it. It can be overwritten after a fashion. Instruction can be given that the problematic old memory is no longer relevant. I want different responses. I desire different outcomes. Then in similar situations more effective behavior can be scripted in.
There is a fast forward button. This is the button that allows me to become proactive, if I use it. This button is for projecting where my actions and behaviors are going to lead. Given the human beings survival drive for pattern recognition, I should be able to make a pretty good estimation of the probability lines. Then I can make adjustments. This skill gets better with practice, if I bother to try. ‘G.O.D.D.’ helps those who help themselves (Goals, Optimism and Daily Doing).
Growth is not easy; change is not always comfortable. I should expect some discomfort. I should expect some pain. Any development requires work. In the physical world, athletics, wrestling, football and at the gym, there is a saying; “No pain, No gain.” My father in law had a plaque on his wall that read; “Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness,” author unknown. If I am not actively pursuing physical activity, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, stagnation and atrophy set in. Neglected long enough more serious consequences will ensue.
These concepts apply just as well to my spiritual endeavors. If I am on the path I will run into some friction, discomfort and pain. I need to remember, there will also be rewards along the way. The rewards will be proportional to the extent I have been willing to do the work. If I seek to avoid friction, discomfort and pain they will be stored up for me and my reward will be their return to me at a later date with interest. On the other hand, if I am willing to work through these things I can reap different rewards for my effort; the satisfaction of participating in the direction of the unfoldment of my future, growth in knowledge, spirit, self-consciousness and physical wellbeing.
There is a stop button. This button is actually for the self-conscious mind. This is not the rest button. This is not the sleep button. Rest and sleep are necessary active processes. This is the disengage button. This is the end of participation button. This is the relinquish any self-conscious influence button, to be assiduously avoided. Buttons will always be pushed; it is a competitive field. If I am not writing the scripts, if I am not pushing my buttons, someone else is there to write them and push at them. Some in cooperation with my well-being like family, friends, mentors or teachers like Rev. Strickler. Others do so with manipulative malice; many politicians and advertisers who have studied behavior become proficient at pushing my buttons to their own benefit, not necessarily mine.
If I am not participating, providing fresh input, future events/episodes of my life will be beyond my influence. Self-conscious awareness is the gatekeeper. Who is the author and who is pushing the buttons? What plays out depends on who I allow to author the scripts that are read into my subconscious. The subconscious production company is only as good as the script it is given. If I as the gatekeeper repeatedly tell subconscious ‘this is too much work, this is too uncomfortable, I want to avoid confrontation,’ subconscious will dutifully manifest that in my life. It does not care. It does what it is told over and over again. Reasoning and thinking are functions of the self-conscious mind. I reap what I sow. So, I need to be mindful of what seeds I am planting. Mindfulness is hitting the pause button from time to time and taking stock. It does not require our constant attention but if we are to have any measure of influence or control of our destiny it must be revisited on a regular basis at frequent intervals.
Reverend Strickler defines intelligence as the ability to do work. This is all hard work. My intelligence is being challenged. I often miss the mark, but I am waking up. I am becoming more aware and can take better aim. In parting I ask you the questions I try to ask myself every day.
Who is writing the script for your life?
Who is pushing your buttons?