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Three ingredients to effective change: awareness, acceptance, and action

Structure of Your Mind

To put it simply, the mind is divided into two parts, the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious mind contains the thoughts you are aware of, and the unconscious mind contains those you are not aware of. Right now your conscious mind is focused on the words on this page. But your unconscious mind is busy, too, taking the shapes of the letters that you see and translating them into what they mean. You programmed your unconscious mind to do this during the process of learning to read. As you can see, the unconscious mind is a great convenience. Without it, you would have to consciously think about the definition of thousands of words all the time. But your unconscious mind makes it possible to just think about the definition.

The unconscious mind is divided into two parts. One part is, in fact, accessible. The accessible part of your unconscious mind contains the definitions of words that are not on this page and much more. Additionally, the accessible part of your unconscious mind contains some thoughts that you unintentionally repress because of denial, arrogance, or unresolved past trauma. We are not picking on you here. All of us repress information in our unconscious mind. Everyone has experienced “ah-ha” moments, where the unconscious cause of some past event becomes suddenly crystal clear. “Ah-ha,” you say, “Now I understand why that happened. Our fear of being upset by its insane contents may be why the temporarily inaccessible portion remains so. Increased awareness is quite likely to put you in touch with more parts of yourself. Some of these parts will be previously unnoticed resources and qualities that you are delighted to have. Others you may not like very much. Awareness eliminates denial.

Awareness

It is virtually impossible to change what you don’t know about. For example, at the outset of consultations with us, many clients are unaware that their fear of earning an income greater than that of their parents limited their moneymaking activities. Their pattern of income and net worth ostensibly looked like a roller coaster. There are usually valid reasons for each descent. These valid reasons block awareness of the underlying fear of exceeding their parents’ income. It does not take a great deal of awareness to see how your financial life is affected by your thinking. The decisions you have made and those you haven’t, along with your attitudes, persistence, consistency, and emotions about money, all originate in your mind. Just as you can find your way around the darkest room with just one candle, a bit of willingness to give up denial serves to open a path for you to recognize the unconscious psychological dynamics that act to limit your success.

I (PL) asked him about the promotional activities in his business. From his response, it was quite evident that, although he was doing some things very well, he was compulsively avoiding use of the telephone. I suggested that he was suffering from phone phobia and offered to aid him in changing this. He responded with a lengthy, well-reasoned denial about the phone phobia, including his assertion that the phone was not important, that he would be disturbing people, that there are better ways to contact people, how he sometimes intended to make calls but then got too busy to do so, and concluding with his hope that his business would turn around soon. I asked him to consider the possibility that he had created well-reasoned denial to avoid the uncomfortable awareness of his phone phobia

Acceptance

Acceptance of anything doesn’t mean you like it, it doesn’t mean you would consciously choose it, it doesn’t mean you would order it in a restaurant. It just means it is OK. The alternative to acceptance is condemning it and then trying to change it from that position of condemnation. The primary disadvantage of such condemnation is that your mind’s desire to be right creates situations to justify your condemnation. Additionally, such condemnation wastes energy.

Summary

Disapproval and desire for revenge are perhaps the two most important psychological factors that stand in the way of acceptance. If you did something your parents didn’t like, they disapproved. Expressing this disapproval became a convenient way for them to motivate you not to do it anymore. Some people fear that if they accept themselves and stop disapproving of themselves, they will have no motivation whatsoever. Motivation comes naturally from a person’s values. Everyone is naturally motivated to express those values, whether the values are consciously chosen or unconsciously adopted due to past conditioning. Do not worry that you will have no motivation if you accept yourself.

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