The Jesuit saying, “Give me the child for the first seven years and I will show you the man,” points to an important truth. Our young minds are programmed within this time. Behavioural patterns are set which will govern how we run our lives. These early habits — good or bad — are ingrained, usually for life, reinforced by a series of repetitions as we age.
But it is not our conscious mind that is programmed, according to the renowned developmental biologist, author and speaker Dr Bruce Lipton, but our subconscious mind. For it is this often misunderstood part of our brain that absorbs the programming and ultimately controls our thinking and how we act in a variety of situations. Science now suggests that 95 percent of our behaviour is shaped by our subconscious and only 5 percent by our conscious mind.
Dr Lipton explains the programming by saying it is important to understand that the conscious and subconscious mind learn in completely different ways. The conscious mind is creative and able to absorb information quickly and readily. However, the latter absorbs habits that are ingrained into our behavioural patterns.
The Subconscious Mind
The subconscious mind can be described as a machine, he says, faithfully recording data and beliefs for replay.
For example, the conscious mind may learn the text and understand the reasoning behind self-help books or through watching videos and attending workshops. However, this is not the way the subconscious (habitual) mind works, says Dr Lipton. Without addressing how this works, the person’s habits are unlikely to change.
Behavioural Modification Techniques
This begs the question: Is it possible to change information ingrained through habit that has been programmed into our subconscious? Yes, says Dr Lipton, however, it is important to teach the subconscious in the way in which it learns. He lists three effective ways to change behaviour through the retraining of the subconscious mind.
1. Self Hypnosis / hypnotherapy. Particularly effective as you move from consciousness to sleep, hypnotherapy using earphones with subliminal tapes that can help transmit the “message” straight to the subconscious. This will help bypass the conscious mind.
2. Repetition. Indoctrinating yourself with a new beneficial habit can be learned by repeating the new behaviour over and over. Success can be achieved by using this method which acts as a kind of behavioural “reprogramming”.
3. Energy psychology/belief change modification. This is described by Dr Lipton as a “super learning moment” and is akin to pressing the record button on a tape recorder (the subconscious) to learn the new behaviour. Focusing on the relationship between various elements of the body’s energy system, it encompasses a range of techniques including yoga, acupressure and psychology to help shift the brain’s thought patterns.
Without the use of these behavioural modification techniques, the person will fail to change firmly ingrained behaviour patterns. Putting new information into the conscious mind isn’t enough to change behaviour. This can only be done by using methods used by the subconscious to re-learn old habits.
He adds, it is his view that correcting our own erroneous programming is important for our children (and their children). As he states: “by changing the programming, you change the life”.
About Dr Lipton
Scientist, award-winning author, speaker and renowned behavioural psychologist, Dr Lipton’s work has made him a leader in the field of understanding the role of the subconscious mind in changing behaviour. He has a scientific background as a stem cell biologist, though he has also become a respected leader in fields as wide-ranging as muscular dystrophy, tissue transplantation and how quantum physics relates to the cell’s processing systems.
Want more? You can watch Dr Lipton talk about his research and the impact of body language in his 10–minute Talk. It’s well worth the time.