You might be aware of your conscious thoughts throughout the day, but while your subconscious mind is running the show behind the scenes, you can help reprogram thoughts to work for you both while you sleep and while you’re awake.
4 Ways To Reprogram Your Subconscious Thoughts
Stress can take a toll on our mental processes and our ability to think clearly. As a result, productivity at work, our mood, and our behavior can be affected by stressful and negative thoughts. For example, if you feel stressed out, your thoughts are usually racing about what is bothering you, and you may neglect healthy self-care as a result and eat junk food.
Being aware of negative thoughts that are in your conscious mind can help you to control your behavior so that it will not negatively impact your health.
1. Change your reaction or response to stress
When something stressful occurs, like a traffic jam, our reaction to the stressful event is often the cause of the problem. For example, we can say ‘This is going to make me late for work,’ but the traffic jam is still something that is out of our control and all we have done is to feel bad about it by focusing on the negative. Instead, we could say ‘At least I have a little time to myself before work.’
By changing our response we are able to change how ‘the interactive influence of environmental demands and personal characteristics on the initial reaction to stressors and how this reaction affects thoughts, feelings, and action.’ This finding comes from a research study by the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University where self-management training was used as a technique for people in the workplace to manage stress.
2. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP uses the power of the language that we use with ourselves to reprogram subconscious thoughts. For example, if you ask yourself ‘Why do I feel so angry?’ your thoughts are focused on the anger or the negative emotion, rather than what you do want, which is the opposite.
NLP also helps people to set positive goals that are focused on what they do want, not what they don’t want. Other techniques from NLP include imagining someone that is bothering you as a photograph in black and white and picturing the photo moving away from you and appearing smaller. Other NLP techniques include hearing your critical inner voice in a humorous cartoon voice instead. For example, if you tell yourself ‘That was stupid,’ imagine Shaggy from the TV cartoon Scooby Doo saying it next time instead.
NLP may help reduce symptoms of clinical anxiety, depression, phobias, and other troubling psychological problems. A joint Croatian and Austrian study on patients coming to therapy for various psychological problems found that neuro-linguistic programming therapy was able to significantly help reduce clinical symptoms and increase quality of life.
3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Traumatic events can leave people with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Even small traumas like seeing a car accident happen near you, but not being involved in it can affect your mind in negative ways. You may notice more irrational fears than usual, for example, being afraid of driving when you have no reason to be concerned. Depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive behavior, anxiety, and trauma are all psychological problems that can be helped by EMDR. You can find a trained EMDR clinician through this link.
In EMDR therapy, patients watch a screen where lights move around and they track the lights with their eyes while trying to remember the past events that bothered them. The treatment is a way for patients to bring up their negative emotions about the past, while distracting them with something that makes it difficult to focus on the negative thoughts. The combination of these things, trying to remember and trying to pay attention to what is on the screen are hard for the brain to reconcile. What happens is that the negative thoughts lose to the pattern of eye movement.
You can try this therapy at home by looking up links for EMDR on YouTube. This self-therapy to reprogram your subconscious thoughts is not recommended for those who have undergone intense trauma because the memories could be disturbing. Instead, find a therapist who works in EMDR who can teach you how to manage negative memories.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Psychcentral.com says ‘CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.’
To use the technique of CBT to reprogram your subconscious thoughts, first, we have to identify negative thoughts, like ‘I am worthless.’ Second, you question the thought by saying ‘Why would I think that about myself?’ ‘Who told me to think that way?’ Third, we replace the negative pattern of thoughts with positive ones like ‘I am very capable. Everyone makes mistakes, but I have learned from mine and I know that I can do this.’