Why habits are so hard to break

Nothing in the known universe retains information like the human subconscious.

by Gwen Farrell — 

Imagine a large crystal bowl filled with Jell-O™. The top 10 percent is orange Jell-O and the remaining 90 percent is strawberry Jell-O. A tasty treat, yes, and a pretty good model for the structure and function of the human mind. The orange layer represents the waking, or conscious mind, the area where cognition — thinking — occurs.

We are enjoying the orange Jell-O when we focus on an idea or an object, do Sudoku, perform brain surgery, write poetry or myriad other activities and functions that require critical thinking and reasoning. The orange Jell-O controls all the voluntary muscles in the body and receives, screens and interprets the masses of data that flood in through the five senses during waking hours. In this case, it is an orange jello data processing center.

While the orange Jell-O is great at processing vast amounts of data as thoughts, its storage capacity is limited. After arising in the conscious mind, thoughts remain only a short time before being processed into the subconscious — you guessed it — the strawberry Jell-O.

The subconscious mind acts like a vast repository of everything we have experienced in this life and, some believe, in other lives. Those little tidbits embedded in the strawberry Jell-O, which look suspiciously like fruit cocktail, are actually memories, habits, fears and beliefs.

Nothing in the known universe retains information like the human subconscious. It accepts input from the conscious mind — during waking and sleeping — then processes and catalogues it, retaining what it deems worthy and venting the leftovers via dreams. And despite the huge mass of data stored in its depths, the subconscious is capable of retrieving the smallest bit at the command of the conscious mind. Who knew that strawberry Jell-O could do so much?

In its job as storehouse, the subconscious mind views information as neither good nor bad but rather as merely known and unknown. The known is readily accepted in the strawberry Jell-O realm. The unknown, not so much. As long as the conscious mind sends data that the subconscious is familiar with, all is well and the whole big dessert (you), goes on its way.

However, should your conscious mind decide that it wants to make a significant change in your behavior, such as giving up cigarettes, losing that extra 15 pounds or overcoming your fear of flying, the subconscious will reject it as unknown and unworthy of integration into your behavior. You will find yourself up against 90 percent of your mind — a formidable barrier that makes most of us give up or try and fail.

The good news is that the subconscious mind can be programmed to accept new data and integrate it into your life. Through certain types of meditation and direct input, your subconscious mind can be convinced to cooperate with your conscious mind to create the change you desire. And then you can enjoy the whole dessert.


Gwen Farrell, CHt is a hypnotherapist in general practice with Southwest HypnoTherapy Group in Phoenix. activateyourmind@aol.com, 602-954-0962 or www.swhtg.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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