Conscious: aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings; aware of what one is doing.
Unconscious : without awareness or cognition; occurring below the level of conscious thought; not consciously planned, realized or done; the unconscious: the part of the mind containing psychic material that is only rarely accessible awareness but has a pronounced effect upon behavior.
When we are living our lives in a state of true awareness wherein we are truly conscious of our actions, we can free ourselves from reactive, self defeating behavior and realize our personal best. Unfortunately, although we may think that we make conscious decisions, in reality our unconscious mind impacts our behavior. Our actions are therefore not truly under our control. We can learn to recognize the unconscious, that part of our mind that has great power over much of our actions without us even being aware of its existence. In doing so, we can diminish its power over us.
As an example, try simply noticing that voice inside your head that gets very chatty whenever you are about to make a decision, especially an important one that could result in change. Is it telling you that you’re nuts to consider what you are thinking of doing? Does it say that you failed once before and will probably do so again? This chatter is easy to recognize because that voice, or chorus of voices, is activated all day long. Just walking into a room of strangers gets it going! They don’t like me, I don’t belong here, ya-da, ya-da. We fail to understand that the voice is out to sabotage us.
The voice is not you. It is a manifestation of your subconscious fears. Just by noticing it you will realize that this inner saboteur is at work. In the act of noticing you begin to empower yourself to make truly conscious decisions that will result in positive and lasting changes in your life.
The voice is the mind chatter that we can recognize. What about all the subconscious stuff that is also at work but much harder to identify? Quite often, we find ourselves quickly reacting to life’s circumstances instead of taking time to stop, listen and think things through. For instance, your friend may ask you if you aren’t feeling well because you don’t look so hot. You might immediately react by snapping back, “What do you mean I don’t look good?” Your feelings got hurt because you are extremely sensitive to any sort of criticism. Those feelings of low self-esteem may stem from a parent who was always extremely critical: the why does not matter. The bottom-line is your friend meant exactly what they said: are you okay? Nothing more. You added the rest. You were unconscious in your reaction. You allowed your past to repeat itself.
When we live on a conscious level, we are as alert to what is happening as a deer in the woods who hears something unknown. We insure that our actions, our decisions, our communications are not influenced by the myriad filters we apply to life. We don’t look through rose colored or black glasses; we choose to look through crystal clear ones that do not distort reality.
We recognize that the voice in our head is inauthentic and we proceed without its input. Thank it for sharing and move on. We start to see that reacting to life to very different from acting from a place of awareness and consciousness. We learn to recognize reality for what it is and not for what we think it should be. We choose to make conscious decisions versus unconscious ones.
Life Coaching has a very strong emphasis on the act of conscious living. We learn how to recognize when we slip into unconsciousness, thereby training ourselves to be more and more conscious of what is really happening. We free ourselves from, doing the same things over and over again. We learn from our heightened sense of awareness. We begin to see things differently, in a much more objective and clear way.
There are myriad ways that one can begin to practice conscious living. First and foremost is to notice your mind chatter. Just notice it. Secondly, to stop reactive behavior, walk away when you sense that you are not in control. Recognize your danger zone. When you feel the rush of emotion starting, step back and count to twenty. Don’t give in to the rush. Cool off. Take a brisk walk. Look into those activities that clear your mind and create calm. Some people meditate, some do yoga or chant. Others find that 18 holes on a golf course is a spiritual experience. Whatever works for you.
Always examine your actions and decisions to ensure that they are made without self-defeating habits. Are you seeing reality as it exists or through some sort of filter? Drop egocentric behavior that clouds the issue and only serves to reinforce bad behavior and poor decision-making. Be like the deer in the woods: alert, focused, present and totally aware.