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It was a beautiful sight to behold.
Three thick layers of dense, moist chocolate sponge cake. Double whipped, thickened cream oozing out from between the layers and topped with dark, dark icing. My reward for a hard day’s work! The party had been a wonderful success and now that everyone had gone home, I had the opportunity to relax and indulge myself a little; I had earned it.
As I carefully separated a generous spoonful from the slice, my rapture was instantly shattered by my wife’s very loud and accusing question, “What do you think you are doing?”
I turned slowly towards my wife, the guilt already consuming me. I had been on an extremely strict diet since my doctor told me that my weight and sugar levels were ‘concerning’. For 8 weeks I had kept to my diet and I was showing the results of my sacrifice. I had lost 10 kilograms and was feeling more energetic and focussed, so what happened to bring me this moment? I was sabotaging myself and I didn’t realise it.
We all have goals. Some of these goals are conscious and we are very aware of them. However, some goals are unconscious and operate below the level of our awareness, we don’t realise we have them. The problem for us is that the unconscious goals are more important, and our unconscious mind will do whatever it takes to see them achieved.
The power of the unconscious mind is often underrated as it functions below our level of attention and yet it actually has more influence over our thoughts and behaviour than the conscious mind. The problem with this, is that our unconscious mind often operates on our world through outdated, limiting beliefs and perceptual filters. Consequently, we can find ourselves unconsciously sabotaging any conscious goal we may have decided on, as the unconscious mind can set and reach goals independently of the conscious mind.
The Problem - Incongruence
The conscious goals that we create for ourselves are based around the things we desire, our ‘wants’. Unconscious goals, on the other hand, are often based around those things considered to be the imperatives or the ‘must haves”. Given this simple distinction, it is easy to see why the goals of the unconscious mind usually win out over the conscious goals we create, whenever the two are in conflict.
The difficulty in managing this conflict is that, by its very definition, an unconscious goal is one that you consciously do not know about. Our conscious mind denies any unconscious motives that conflict with our conscious motives. This strategy regularly results in the failure of our goals. We trap ourselves by working from a belief that denial of our unconscious goals is important. If we acknowledge these unconscious goals, they will win the battle. This type of thinking could not be further from the truth.
The Solution - Congruence
What then are we to do when our unconscious mind will seek to achieve its goals and our conscious mind is in denial? Fear not, all is not lost; we do not have to live forever as the victim of our unconscious mind!
The first step to regaining control and achieving our conscious goals is to make unconscious goals conscious. We cannot expect to change the things we are not aware of. This basic principle should in fact be the highest priority for anyone considering a career as a life coach or NLP practitioner.
The strategy for making the unconscious goals conscious, is simple, highly effective and will allow us to update those redundant beliefs and filters that we are operating and to achieve congruence between the conscious and unconscious minds.
Now that you have identified your unconscious goal, you have clarity around that which was once hidden to you, take the time now to own it. You should live with it, in your consciousness, fully aware of its existence. Having the unconscious goal identified, means that you can ask the part of you that holds it, to negotiate and agree on a new belief. Determine the positive intention of the previously unconscious goal. What was the benefit being sought? Ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this behaviour or is doing this just an old habit, one that is no longer relevant to my life?” The answer might just surprise you.
Applying this process to my own example I can confirm that I want to eat healthy and lose weight (conscious goal). Instead, I find myself sitting at the table with a large slice of chocolate cake (unintended result). My unconscious goal is to enjoy food by experiencing the pleasure of eating sweet things. Yes, I do want to enjoy food, but chocolate cake is not the best option.
In my case, once I had identified the unconscious goal I was able to negotiate that it was an outdated belief and I was able to use a few powerful NLP techniques to replace it with a belief that was more suitable to the life I knew I now had to live. Reframing, New Behaviour Generator and Belief work, all contributed to a more resourceful, aligned thinking pattern. (All these techniques are covered in the iNLP Center’s NLP Practitioner Certification).
I still desire chocolate cake occasionally but now my unconscious and conscious goals are aligned to work harmoniously to achieve a positive, healthy outcome.
The most important message I can share with you is to always respect your unconscious mind and the goals residing therein. It is more powerful than you know and when you understand that its unwavering motive is to protect you, even when it is working with outdated beliefs, you will begin a new, healthy relationship with it. Becoming aware of your unconscious mind and seeking congruence between your goals is the greatest gift you can give yourself.