I was shocked when I realized how easy it is to get more of what we want in life if we'd just better understand how to harness the power of the mind. And yet, I am disappointed that more people aren’t talking about how the unconscious mind can make or break progress, because it's really in charge. I love the analogy used by the Buddhists which, I think, best describes the division of duties between the conscious and unconscious mind. They liken the conscious mind to the rider and the unconscious mind to the elephant. Go ahead - put them together in your mind and ask yourself, who’s really in charge?

Today, ancient wisdom meets science and confirms what we already know to be true. The conscious mind is estimated to carry less than ten percent of our operating capacity. Some scientists actually say that percentage could be as low as two percent. Of course, we all understand the rider is responsible for our thinking capacity, but this aspect of our operating model is also where we dream about what’s possible, establish goals, and measure progress. So, when the rider establishes a goal to travel through the jungle it will be, of course, the elephant who determines how or if the journey happens at all. Just the magnitude of this alone makes me wonder why more people aren’t more curious about how the unconscious mind operates.

It is important to understand the unconscious mind and the elephant are similar, in that, they both have dominating forces that are significantly more powerful than their physical size. Just for starters, the unconscious mind has the ability to run and preserve all the complex systems of the body. This means we don’t have to consciously think about things like operating the heart, hydrating eyes, growing hair, or ensuring a new layer of stomach lining gets replaced every few days. Can I get a hallelujah for this alone?!

Also, they say an elephant never forgets and the unconscious mind is no different. We have a lifetime of experiences and memories which are collected, categorized, date stamped, and archived for easy retrieval by the unconscious mind. This massive database of information is based on the past, but determines what we see and experience, and how we navigate the future.

In other words, our unconscious mind is like an elephant who assumes it already knows the terrain and the most expeditious route through the jungle. As you can imagine, looking through the lens of the past can create misperceptions, miscalculations and missed opportunities. So, in the absence of examining what resides in the unconscious mind, it’s easy to find ourselves traveling through the same jungle and around the same palm tree repeatedly...because that’s what elephants do.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Crampton Davis has been coaching and guiding individuals to success for more than twenty-five years. Today she focuses on helping people to identify and remove the limiting beliefs that stand in the way of greater happiness and success.

Susan is a graduate of Evergreen State University, a master-level NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioner, a registered hypnotherapist, and a practitioner of Belief Reconditioning Therapy™, which is a client-centered therapy that involves several healing modalities. Prior to starting Awakening Works, Susan held senior leadership roles at some of the best companies, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Getty Images, Staples, Amazon, and W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.