In this week’s spotlight I would like to focus on the idea that our conscious minds have much less control than we think. For over thirty years now I have researched the workings of the mind. Indeed, the reason our patented InnerTalk technology exists is due to an earlier discovery that suggested the non-conscious provided the conscious mind with its alternatives. In other words, some stimuli might come along and how we would react was not a matter of anything more than the alternatives written in the non-conscious. So, for example, if one were to see a stimulus as a threat, they would react not just from fight or flight but from dispositional programming in the subconscious. As such, one person can slow down to let someone in traffic in while another squeezes them out. One person can become angry at a driver’s error, while their neighbor smiles understandingly. And all of this behavior is a program executing itself while the conscious mind explains away, usually via rationalization, why you’re behaving in the way you are.
The conscious mind as a passive conduit
It’s obvious then that the programming in the non-conscious mind should be of the sort we want, for if it is not, then our behavior will continually disappoint our best! This past week a new study coming from San Francisco State University informed us once again of just how true this proposition is. Quoting from the research summary, “Consciousness—the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and action—is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control.” 1
The study, which appeared in the June 22nd issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, describes the action this way: “The interpreter presents the information but is not the one making any arguments or acting upon the knowledge that is shared. Similarly, the information we perceive in our consciousness is not created by conscious processes, nor is it reacted to by conscious processes.” 2
Illuminating the frame
The model of the mind is evolving as technology provides an ever more transparent view of how our brains work. This new model is called the “Passive Frame Theory.” Think about the conscious mind then from this perspective, a frame of film neither created nor illuminated by itself, ready to be viewed upon cue given the proper stimulus, but generated elsewhere in the non-conscious. In other words, the non-conscious has created the film frame, and some stimulus may illuminate that frame, but the conscious mind is but passively observing the frame as itself.
I have emphasized the importance of owning your own controls for more than thirty years now and that is simply not possible until and unless you own your own non-conscious processes. I urge you all today to undertake the greatest challenge of your life—above all else know yourself!
Thanks for the read,
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions
1 Consciousness Has Less Control Than Believed
2 Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory