Breaking the Chains of the Subconscious

It’s been said that human consciousness is like an iceberg, where only 10% is conscious thought and 90% unconscious (or sub-conscious) thought. That’s a helpful analogy when we consider why making life changes can be so hard to do. Our conscious minds may be determined to do something, but our subconscious minds are creatures of habit – many old and ingrained habits that are difficult to break.

The first step to breaking the invisible shackles of the subconscious mind is to bring conscious awareness to them. In my own life, I see this moment as a critical turning point to do just that. For too long I have allowed my inner critic to (consciously and unconsciously) sabotage my attempts to make changes. I’ve always dreamed of making a living out of writing and helping people, but have somehow always managed to put barriers in my way. Not anymore.

Tonight I made a commitment to myself. A commitment to keep my goals and motivations above the line of my conscious thought. A commitment to try and stop talking myself down, comparing myself, worrying what others think, telling myself it’s all just too big to be achievable. A commitment to following through, no matter what it takes.

I had a long bath and thought about what I would like to do more of in order to be closer to who and what I want to be. And instead of the usual suspects a new list came, unbidden (perhaps from my subconscious?):

  • Educate myself in my chosen profession (read about different coaching approaches and styles, commit to continued learning and professional development)
  • Find my Tribe (attend networking events, listen to Podcasts etc.)
  • Document my journey (write more blogs/personal diaries)
  • Read for pleasure (actively search for books I will enjoy, instead of reading any old thing that comes along)
  • Have compassion for myself, trust the process/journey (read more literature in this area)
  • Self-care (more long baths, less screen time, more exercise – especially outdoors, regular massages)
  • Live more mindfully/environmentally

So there I have it. A new list of Things to Live By. A list that sits so perfectly with my values that it must have come from my subconscious. I know the path to change is never easy, but for the first time in a long time I feel confident that I am taking big strides in the right direction.

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To write or not to write (not really a question)

Day twelve of NaNoWriMo and I’m proud to announce I’m three hundred and fifty five whole words ahead of schedule, having managed a short but intense stint of writing over the past hour and a half. It’s funny how sometimes the words flow like honey and other times they stick like mud. I can’t say I’m doing the best job of sticking to the story skeleton, or that in recent chapters I haven’t strayed somewhat off the writing piste where my chapter plan is concerned, but right now none of that matters – because right now those glorious words are tumbling out one after the other, like parachutists leaping from an aeroplane.

In recent days my inner critic’s been leaping around in my mind like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, brandishing its creativity-severing axe and wailing like a banshee. At times it’s been so hard to drown it out that I’ve been tempted to succumb, not just to this writing challenge but to the challenge of writing altogether. I’ve compared myself to others – the kiss of death for any aspiring author – and concluded my writing doesn’t make the grade. I’ve even questioned just how much I want to be a writer – if it’s worth the sacrifices and the pain I know I need to endure to get to where I want to be.

But then I’ve realised (as I always do) that it doesn’t matter if I’m not as good a writer as other people. It doesn’t really even matter if I ‘make it’ as a writer or not. What matters is that writing is a part of who I am – it’s what makes me tick. And until my dying day I will keep doing it – whether there’s gold at the end of the rainbow or not.

Letting go of perfect

Striving to be a perfectionist has its benefits – never submitting a piece of sub-standard work, half-heartedly cleaning the flat or choosing a duff holiday or friend’s birthday present, for example – but it can also wear you down. When you fail to live up to your own exacting standards – as you inevitably will – your inner critic comes charging into the forefront of your consciousness like an army major and starts reprimanding you for all the things you’ve done wrong. And when that voice is constantly pointing out your areas of weakness it can become both depressing and a self-fulfilling cycle.

The truth of the matter is (newsflash!) there is no such thing as perfect. Even the most diligent of cleaners or copywriters will miss a speck of dirt or an erroneous apostrophe every now and then. Does that make them bad at what they do? Far from it – it just makes them human. We weren’t made to be perfect beings – God (if you believe in Him) made us in his image, granted, but Adam and Eve saw to it that we would always be a bunch of hopeless sinners. Instead of aiming for perfect maybe we should really aim at being the best that we can be. Not that we should drop our standards – far from it, it’s important to set our goals high, it’s just that when we don’t always achieve the top grade in life we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for managing a perfectly respectable B.

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